No human or animal seeks to feel pain but feeling pain is necessary. Pain is a signal from our body that lets our brain know that there is something wrong. Pain helped us, and continues to help us, survive.
But what about chickens? Do chickens feel pain? This article looks into it
Do chickens feel pain?
Birds, just like any other animal, have a brain and a central nervous system. The pain receptors of a chicken are not all that different from the pain receptors that are in other animals.
These pain receptors are what allow chickens to feel pain.
If your chicken is in pain you may not realize it because chickens have evolved to not show signs of pain or sickness.
If a chicken were to show that it was in pain, or that it had a sickness, then it would become a target to predators who are looking for something easy to hunt. This is why birds in pain try to mask the signs of being in pain.
Do chickens feel pain when slaughtered?
Chickens are electronically stunned before being slaughtered, this is said to keep them from feeling pain when being slaughtered.
Unfortunately, it is said that the electrical settings of the stunning machines may not always be adequate and don’t always meet the standards of humane stunning, so, there is a chance that chickens feel pain as they are slaughtered.
When chickens are caught by a predator the bird’s body releases a rush of adrenaline into the bird’s body, this puts the bird in shock and keeps it from feeling pain as the bird is eaten.
This adrenaline eventually wears off and if the bird is still alive after the adrenaline wears off then it will feel pain, but the bird is usually already eaten by the predator by this time.
The shock that the bird feels when attacked by a predator also helps as it dulls the bird’s awareness and makes the situation less stressful for it.
Do chickens feel pain when laying eggs?
Egg laying is painful to birds but it is only minimally painful not severely painful.
It is said that younger hens, who have just started egg-laying, feel more pain than elder more experienced hens. This is not a scientific fact but chicken raisers and poultry owners seem to agree on this point.
Chickens lay eggs through an opening called the cloaca, this body part has nerves that register pain. If a chicken lays an especially large egg, then the egg-laying process can be quite painful.
You can assume that a bird is in pain if it wheezes, makes distressed squawking noises, makes gasping vocalizations, and bleeds from the vent as it lays.
Do chickens feel other chickens’ pain?
It is said that chickens can feel when other chickens are in pain or are in distress.
Experiments show that when baby chicks are in pain, or show signs of being in distress, their mother hen starts to show signs of distress and empathy as well.
The bird’s heart rate increases and the hen becomes more alert and aware of its surroundings, the hen may also make clucking noises toward its chicks.
This behavior hints that the chickens have a sense of empathy and can “feel their babies’ pain”. This ability to feel empathy is said to make the parent chickens better parents to their young.
Can chickens have pain medicine?
Chickens can have pain medicine but pain medication is not given for just any pain.
The pain of minor surgery or stitches, and the pain of a major injury or surgery, are not the same.
Medications like aspirin, meloxicam (Metacam), Rimadyl (carprofen), lidocaine, benzocaine, local anesthetic, and a variety of natural remedies can be given to chickens.
In conclusion, it is assumed that chickens do feel pain. This is why vets use pain medications on these animals when they perform surgery on them.
The pain that a bird feels when it suffers a mild scratch and the pain that birds feel when they are having major surgery is different, medications are usually given for the latter.
It is said that birds feel pain when they lay eggs as well but older hens are used to it while younger ones aren’t so used to it.
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Electrolytes And Probiotics For Chickens, Traumatized Chicken Behavior, How To Help A Sick Chicken Gain Weight, Lethargic Baby Chick With Closed Eyes, Chicken Having Trouble Walking And Standing