Chickens have taste buds but theirs are not as complex as those found in humans. More so, their taste buds do not function like ours. So, how can they distinguish between bitterness and sweetness? Can the chickens like/hate some food because of their taste?
You’ve probably noted how chickens peck and swallow almost anything they come across. Whether it’s hot chili or spicy human food, chickens will always seem to enjoy what they are eating. This fascinating behavior will make you wonder if chickens have taste buds to know what’s sweet or bitter.
You might be asking yourself numerous questions about chicken taste capabilities. This article will help you get answers to your questions. Worry less and keep scrolling to find out if a chicken can taste or not.
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Do chickens have taste buds?
Chickens also have 240 to 360 taste buds. The major difference is that human taste buds are primarily on the tongue surface, while chickens only have 2% of their taste buds on the tongue.
The palate contains 69% of the taste buds, and the remaining 29% are located at the oral cavity base of the chicken. This positioning means that chickens cannot detect the taste of what they eat using their tongue. By the time they taste the food, they have already swallowed it.
How do Chickens Taste Their Food?
As mentioned earlier, chickens don’t have enough taste buds on the tongue to taste the food before swallowing it. So, how do they taste their food? First, chickens have a strong sense of smell and eyesight which they use to decide what to eat.
Chickens will use their eyesight to select their favorite foods when free-ranging and have various foods presented to them. More so, their sense of smell helps them distinguish between safe food and avoid toxic ones. Therefore, chickens select what to eat or avoid depending on the food’s color, shape, and size.
Does Chickens Taste Buds Influence What They Eat?
Since chickens are omnivores, they can feed on meat, grains, seeds, and leafy vegetables. Because they might not select nutrient-rich food while feeding, providing them with a balanced diet is crucial to ensure they produce and lay eggs.
Chickens have fewer taste buds, but that doesn’t mean they are not selective. You have probably noticed that your chicken gets excited when you throw certain feeds at them and avoid some foods. The behavior clearly shows that their taste buds influence them to like or dislike some food.
Another critical observation is that chicks and some adult chickens display a negative attitude towards foods with a bitter or sour taste. If you feed them with sour feed, you may observe them shaking their heads or wiping their beaks after pecking on the food. This reaction also shows that they have taste buds that influence their food choice.
Lastly, chickens seem to prefer cool water to warm or hot water. More so, if the water becomes dirty, especially from their droppings, they will fail to drink it. This behavior can be attributed to their taste buds and a strong sense of smell.
Can Chickens Taste Flavors?
The most common tastes include sweet, bitter, sour, and salty. However, there is a fifth taste that is not common. It is called umami, which is a savory sensation in foods like cheese and meat. The taste receptors identify the tastes in food on your tongue. More so, taste receptors assist us in distinguishing between safe and toxic food.
Chickens lack the taste receptors to taste capsaicin which gives chilies a hot flavor. More so, chickens are unable to determine the sweetness and taste of food. However, their taste buds can taste salty, bitter, umami, and sour food to a certain extent. Therefore, chickens can sense taste since they can distinguish four of the five tastes.
However, lacking the taste buds for sweetness does not mean that chickens are not sensitive to sweet or bitter food. If the food has high levels of bitterness, like too much hot chili, the chicken may peck the food and then avoid it after the first taste.
What Do Chickens Love Eating?
Even without strong taste receptors, chickens have their likes and preferences for food. Chickens enjoy eating vegetables and fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, broccoli, cucumbers, pumpkin, etc. They also like grains, seeds, and nuts such as oats, sunflower seeds, corn, and wheat.
Besides the feeds mentioned above, chickens love eating insects such as mealworms, mosquitoes, and grasshoppers. You should ensure that you provide foods in the categories we have listed above so that the chickens have a supply of nutrients in their body. Since they don’t primarily rely on their taste buds to select their feeds, you should avoid feeding them with only one type of feed or too many treats as they may grow unhealthy.
For instance, feeding them too much fat may cause fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, and too much food with high protein content can cause them to develop gout or kidney disease.
Why is it Important to Study Chicken Taste?
According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), chicken is the second leading protein product consumed globally. Therefore, to keep up with the high demand for chicken meat and eggs, it is crucial to study their tasting behavior and how it can influence their behavioral feeding pattern.
When farmers understand the science behind the chicken taste receptors, they can adjust how they feed the chicken. The chicken will receive nutritious feeds, grow healthy, and increase productivity by making these positive adjustments.
Scientists can use the results from studying chicken taste buds to research more on chicken embryonic development. Additionally, they can develop medicinal solutions that are conscious of chicken taste behavior to help eliminate chicken diseases.