How do chickens detect predators?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by deacons, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. deacons

    deacons Songster

    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Very early this morning, before the chickens were let out, my husband saw a fox on the hill behind our house/coop.

    Would the chickens, locked in te coop, have been able to hear or smell the fox? Or do thy only know a predator is around when they can see it?
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  2. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

    May 28, 2013
    My Coop
    I believe they cannot see further than 40ft or so and have no significant sense of smell.
  3. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

    May 28, 2013
    My Coop
    Actually, although I read about chickens seeing well for only about 40 feet, in just the last few days, I can't find the site where I read it.
    I thought it was here on the poultryhub site, but I don't see it there.
    Anyway, here is some specific info on chicken's senses.


    The sense of sight is good with the embryo showing its first reaction to light at about day 17 after the start of incubation. Fowls have little mobility of the eye and while they have approximately 300° of vision, only 26° are binocular. Fowls have excellent sharpness of vision (acuity). They see colour in much the same way as humans and, like humans, are most sensitive to green. However, chickens prefer blue objects with red being the next preferred followed by orange and green. The contrast in colour is very important in attracting chickens e.g. to food and water.
    The threshold of activity (the intensity of activity under normal circumstances) is believed to be higher than for humans and this is used as an aid for flock management by scheduling handling procedures at night whenever possible (when the birds are at rest and least active). The colour of light influences some behaviour and aspects of production efficiency but white light is generally preferred because it requires less power to achieve a given intensity and hence is more cost effective.

    It is believed that fowls have very limited smelling ability because they are not repelled by obnoxious odour.

    The fowl’s ear is well developed but does not include an ear lobe or pinna. It is located behind the eye and a tuft of feathers protects the opening. Calls in the range of 250 to 3000 hertz are used in vocal communication. A large number of calls by chicks and adults have been identified. Chickens are attracted to sounds that have a low frequency, short duration and which are repetitive i.e. the sound of a broody hen clucking to her chickens. A chicken in distress gives a loud, high frequency call.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Detection can be direct where chicken sees, hears or even feels predator. Since of smell I think they have but is not effective for detecting most predators. They can learn to use indirect methods by watching other animals and listening to their calls.
  5. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    Chickens HAVE to see more than 40 feet. Mine watch hawks in the sky thousands of feet up.

    They see me open the back door 300 feet from their barn, and come running (because the human brings treats and food).

    I do not think they smell particularly well though.
  6. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chirping

    Jan 19, 2014
    I think chickens hear very well. I was in the yard today when some huge bird of prey flew into our woods. Every single bird stopped in their tracks and remained motionless - even those in the coop. The bird of prey was very difficult to see and flew in very quickly - the sound of its slowing down and landing is what clued you in to its presence. It was very easy for my husband and I to pick up the hens in the middle of the yard and bring them back to the safe area - Once they were "locked in" they all started sounding off in alert fashion - shortly thereafter, the predator flew away. I'm not sure what it was, but it was a HUGE (seemed eagle size) bird, but it was black.

    As far a chicken vision, it is much better during the day than the night... perhaps not that much different than for me!

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