United Poultry Concerns Thinking Like a Chicken
Poultry Sentience and Intelligence
From an Interview with Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor of Poultry Ethology
University of Guelph
Ontario, Canada

Q: Can chickens and turkeys feel pain?

A: Absolutely. It is indisputable that poultry are capable of feeling pain. All poultry species are sentient vertebrates and all the available evidence shows that they have a very similar range of feelings as mammalian species. Poultry can suffer by feeling pain, fear and stress.

Q: Chickens and turkeys are widely regarded to be of inferior intelligence, so-called "dumb animals." Is this an accurate assessment of their intelligence?

A: Not at all. These animals are poorly understood. Turkeys, for example, do not always do what a turkey grower wants them to, and therefore they're classified as dumb animals, whereas in fact turkeys possess marked intelligence. This is revealed by such behavioral indices as their complex social relationships, and their many different methods of communicating with each other, both visual and vocal. Chickens, as well, are far more intelligent than generally regarded, and possess underestimated cognitive complexity.

Q: Do chickens and turkeys possess distinct personalities?

A: Yes. For example, hens of a modern laying-strain are very similar genetically, and lay a similar number of eggs. When one looks at their behavior, however, it is obvious that they do have very distinct personalities.

From The State of Poultry Welfare in Canada, 1996. Researched and written by Animal Action. This 22-page report comprises two segments: An interview with Dr. Ian Duncan, and an appendix of supplementary testimony and data from scientific, industry and government sources. It is available from United Poultry Concerns in hardcopy for $10, payable in U.S. dollars to United Poultry Concerns, PO Box 150, Machipongo, VA 23405. Add $5 (U.S. currency) for overseas shipping.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(Thinking Like a Chicken - Poultry Sentience and Intelligence)

Home | What's New? | News Releases | Action Alerts | PoultryPress | Resources | Merchandise | Links | E-mail