Do Chickens Have A Sense of Smell?

Scientists have disapproved of claims that chickens cannot smell. However, researchers have discovered that their sensitivity to smell is not as good as those of wild animals that survive by hunting other animals.

Chickens have a sense of smell that is enough for them to smell predators, fear, flavors, and certain types of foods. Additionally, they can smell toxic plants that are dangerous to them. For example, chickens do not poop near their nesting areas while roosting because they do not like how it smells.

It’s not yet clear how good their sense of smell is. This is because researchers do not fully understand all gene functions connected to a chicken’s sense of smell.

Do Chickens Have A Sense of Smell?
Do Chickens Have A Sense of Smell?

However, chickens’ smelling receptors have been estimated to be as good as those in humans. If their pen reeks of ammonia or is stuffy, they may avoid it. Chickens appreciate a fresh, natural smell with good airflow, especially when roosting.

Proof that chickens have a sense of smell

If you want to prove that chickens can smell, they tend to refuse new foods and bedding. A new member introduced to a flock is likely to be attacked because it is a new scent they are unfamiliar with. They cannot recognize a new chicken among them by looking at it. They will detect it through their smelling abilities and may respond aggressively.

Chickens can pick different smells, which explains why they even have their preferred food. However, the full extent of their smelling ability is yet to be concluded. Basically, chickens are like humans. They do not need to smell all that they eat. Their recognition and memory abilities can guide them since it is combined with instincts.

Furthermore, chickens have been proven to use scents concerning their memories and familiarity with an environment or things they like. They tend to find comfort in familiar scents. Scientists have been diving into a field that may prove chickens use their smell for social communication, a key factor in their complex social disorder.

What smells attract chickens?

Chickens will respond to any smell that is familiar to them faster than that which is strange. They do not have a specific smell that attracts them since they are habitual birds. The ability of a smell to attract or repel chickens comes down to their environment. Flocks surrounding influence their character and behavior.

More often, your chickens will like a scent they are already recognized. Therefore, to get your flock to prefer certain scents have them around the subject for a while. At first, they may act indifferent, but the smell will grow on them, and they won’t mind it after knowing it is safe.

This is the same notion used with chicken feed. If your feed supplier changes brand and the major taste is altered, your chicken may act indifferent. They will continue rebelling for a while until the scent becomes familiar.

Therefore, if you want to introduce new feed to your chickens, mix it with old food with a familiar smell to them in equal proportions. Then reduce the old over time until they can take a pure version of the news feed. 

Incorporating the old food gives them the familiarity of scent. More often than not, chickens pick food by familiarity with the smell. They can also recognize what they see daily, and at the sight of anything new, they will activate their smell abilities.

What smell do chickens hate?

Chickens hate the smell of predators, and they can pick danger at the smell of a new animal around them. They also tend to dislike the smell of citrus and will often refuse a slice of orange as well. While they may have a field day with a pear, there are also herbs they aren’t fond of.

However, when it comes to chickens’ preferences and differences, they all have to do with how familiar they are with the scents. Their memories are connected to odors and can naturally identify a common smell around them. So this logic is explained while most chickens dislike citrus fruits, others are pretty fond of citrus treats.

Chickens are also said not to like herbs such as lavender, chives, marigold, catnip, and spearmint. Despite these claims, there are also proven facts about chickens nesting in all these herbs. If your chickens are familiar with these scents, they will have no issues with them.  

To make a chicken-like scent, start familiarizing them with such scents from a young age. However, if you try to keep them off a particular area, you may have to keep mixing and changing herbs. They will eventually get comfortable with the scents.

Can chickens smell fear?

Chickens can smell fear because they have several predators. In a recent study that was aimed at proving their ability to pick fear and danger, predators were introduced near them. They created zones with predator scents. Then the chickens’ reactions were observed as they approached these zones in contrast to those with no odors.

The results are said to be preliminary indications that, indeed, chickens can detect a variety of odor cues. Furthermore, the evidence proved that chickens have a great sense of smell as they can use it to sense fear to detect predator odors.

Chickens can also smell fear in any animal near them. If they notice you are afraid of them, they will try to intimidate you by flogging, attacking, and backing you down.

If you are scared of them, chickens will peck at you or try an attack for their own safety. Roosting chickens develop advanced smelling abilities. This helps them detect and protect their eggs from predators like rats that can eat them.

Do chickens hate their poop smell?

Chickens can stand their droppings depending on the quantity and how strong it smells. This is proven by the fact that chickens have been observed to take a liking to their own poop to the extent of eating it. Although some may say that is not pleasing, the amount taken is what determines if it will harm them or not.

However, chickens can also get sick if they eat enough of their droppings. Their poop contains dangerous bacteria which can make them have diarrhea and lose weight. If the chickens’ feces accumulate in large amounts, they will produce a strong scent that can repel chickens from the coop.

With the same logic, do not let your chickens stay in a filthy shed. They will highly appreciate fresh air and somewhere clean as their habitat. A stinking coop can also affect the rate at which the hens lie because they will be stressed. They may even lay outside their nests because they can not spend time roosting in a stinky area.

Chicken poop contains some undigested nutrients that are good for their immune system. Their droppings can also attract unwanted pests like rats to a coop. However, please do not confuse this with not cleaning the pen or having your chicken live in utter filthy as it may repel them over time.

Can chickens smell food?

Chickens can smell food, so they can survive in the bush or wild. They tend to use their sense of smell in search of food in the fields. These birds will scratch and dig up dirt to find worms and insects. They can only smell what is close to them, just like humans. 

This does not only apply to free-range chickens, as assumed. Backyard chickens also use their sense of smell for food. They will immediately know if you have food. Notice that chickens will instantly become alert whenever you carry their favorite feed as you pass by and even start running towards you.

Chickens are known to immediately recognize familiar scents such as their usual feeds or treats that they often give them. In conclusion, chickens have a great sense of smell that helps them find food and protect themselves from danger or predators. However, rat poison can kill chickens, and they can ingest it because they cannot detect its smell.

Scientific research has proved that chickens have sensory detectors dedicated to understanding and interpreting different scents and odors. A flock that is fed on routine will not spend much time smelling their food. They can recognize you and their eating time as this is part of the chicken’s natural behavior.

As you approach with food in your hands, they will approach because they are used to the routine. However, if you give them something new, like ripe tomatoes, they will rush towards it, especially if they are hungry. Even before they smell it, chickens will get close in order to taste, and they will definitely smell it in the process.