How good is a chickens' sense of smell?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by swordgeek, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chirping

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    This may be a strange question, but how acute is a chicken's sense of smell?

    My rooster HATES my husband. He'll hear his voice or see him from a distance, and RUN until he gets close enough to attack him. Husband usually boots him, which I don't like one bit. This is the only person Prince does this with. Not other men, just the spouse (though he seems to dislike my husband's brother as well). He's usually very gentle with the rest of us.

    But... whenever I wear anything belonging to the spouse, the rooster gets aggressive with me. I'd forgotten this, because all summer long, I've been cleaning the coop and caring for the birds in flipflops or my sneakers and shorts. A few days ago, it was chilly out, and I made the mistake of putting on my husband's sneakers, and that bird went NUTS on me. He kept attacking the shoes, then flogging me. I couldn't keep him off of me. Even after picking him up and carrying him around, then putting him back down, he still attacked me. I scooped him up and laid him on his back in my arms, then put him down. He jumped me. I tossed him halfway across the coop and locked him out while I worked, but by then I was bleeding from a couple of nasty slashes to the calves.

    After a few hours (and a shower), I went back out there in my flipflops, expecting a showdown. He was sweet as pie.

    I think he smells the man of the house on the shoes (or jacket), and thinks I'm him. Can they really smell that well? Or is my rooster just psychotic?
     
  2. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

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    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think chickens have that well developed sense of smell--they are more sight oriented. In fact, other than vultures, most birds aren't especially good in the smell/taste department. I suspect your rooster is attacking based on color or shape of the footwear.
     
  3. Lollipop

    Lollipop Songster 9 Years

    Of course David could be right, but I`ve always observed what I believed was a great sinse of smell, taste, hearing, and sight. I don`t think there is any scientific proof one way or another. I recollect them having severe reactions to certain shapes, possibly by association. Why not experiment with other articles of his clothing and see if it really is his scent that creates that reaction? Guess you`ll just have to be cautious about what you wear otherwise. I would be curious to read the results......Pop.
     
  4. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chirping

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    Thanks, folks. I ought to mention, Prince is a WCBP, so his vision isn't exactly his strong suit. (In fact, I'm considering trimming his head feathers so he can see - he's gorgeous the way he is, but that headgear really does seem to impair his vision and make him more flighty. I just don't know quite HOW to trim them!) I think he has to rely on his other senses to figure out his surroundings. So far, his hearing seems to be sharpest.

    He also hates the red bucket I use when I scoop out the manure every day. He'll jump at/in the bucket, given a chance. If I use a different one, he seems OK with it. I ought to switch. My father had chickens years ago, and insisted that all of his hens hated the big white bucket he used, and would attack it. Nothing else set them off like that. I thought he was nuts - till my roo got so unnerved by my red one.
     

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