Denigration of smart, sensitive chickens decried
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Denigration of smart, sensitive chickens decried

December 2006

On Oct. 22, a New Haven Register columnist criticized United Poultry Concerns and chickens. UPC’s letter to the editor appeared front & center on the Opinion page with a nice big chicken drawing November 6, 2006:

Regarding the column “Thinking machines, fowl rights” by Abram Katz, the denigration of chickens as inexpressive and unaware is out of touch with both chickens and science.

In 1995, avian researcher Lesley Rogers documented extensive evidence of the “hitherto underestimated chicken brain” in her book “The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken.” Her work led her to write, “I am convinced chickens are not animals that should be kept in mentally and socially deprived conditions. They are as complex as the cats and dogs we share our homes with and should not be looked upon as ‘bird brains.”

Behavioral studies by the Biophysics Group at Silsoe Research Institute in England concur that chickens are intelligent beings who “can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control.” Recent neurophysiological studies show neuron organization in the chicken brain to be highly structured.

As the director of a chicken sanctuary since 1987, I know chickens are smart, sensitive birds. I’ve watched them calculate perfectly a difficult perch landing, and I’ve witnessed a hen successfully plotting her dash across the yard to the chicken house to avoid the attentions of a rooster furtively eyeing her moves. Our yard is filled with the daily social drama of chickens’ lives, vigorously vocal and sometimes quietly expressed.

Karen Davis
Machipongo, Va.

Editor’s note: Karen Davis is president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.  

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