Chickens Prefer Foxes: Scientists Find Poultry Favor Good-Looking People

download-6Just in case your New Year’s resolution has not already put you on the defensive . . .  now we are being judged by the chickens. There is an interesting article in National Geographic with some surprising facts about chickens including that chickens favor good looking people over not good looking people.  While it is unlikely that the the idea of fat-shaming poultry will get vegans to change their dietary preferences, it does raise the rather provocative idea of looks being a bona fide occupational criteria.  Could Perdue join Hooters in looking for good-looking employees?  Ok, probably not.


There are some other surprising facts in the article.

First, hens are “photo-stimulated,” requiring light to produce eggs.

Second, hens do not need roosters to lay eggs. They are only needed for eggs that produce chicks.

Third, and this one is really wild, the color of chicken eggs coincides with the color of the birds’ earlobes. Thus, white earlobed chickens often make white eggshells while red earlobed chicken produce . . . no not red eggs (which would be really cool) . . . brown eggs.

Fourth, chickens can recognize up to 30 other individual chickens.

However the most surprising fact was this: “A 2002 paper found that chickens have the same preference for certain human faces as do humans, ‘keying in on things like symmetry’ in features—one of the subconscious measures of attractiveness.”

Studies showed that chicken responded more to symmetrical faces often associated with better looks.

In other words, chickens really are as shallow as . . .  well . . .  we are.

Worse yet, there is yet another thing that Rob Lowe can do better than I can.

15 thoughts on “Chickens Prefer Foxes: Scientists Find Poultry Favor Good-Looking People”

  1. The research projects must have been eggsacting. Did the chickens sing “In Egg Shell Sis Deo” at Christmas?

    1. Song– The Bird Is The Word

      The bird, bird! Bird is the word.
      Oh, don’t you know…about the bird?
      Everybody says that the bird is the word.

  2. I have always found chickens to be easy to tame. They rapidly associate humans with safety, and will weave around your legs like cats. They are very sociable creatures, and have their particular friends they like to take dirt baths and snuggle with.

    A great many people are surprised that a hen does not need a rooster to lay an egg. However, a woman ovulates monthly regardless of whether a man is around. The same principle applies. If you do not have a rooster, then the eggs are not fertilized. They are just blanks that would rot, so you are not eating baby chickens if you eat eggs. A flock of hens without roosters is rather peaceful. They just make quiet, contented sounds, other than the happy egg song. A single photon of light, it seems, will prompt the rooster that it is time for him, and indeed every other living thing, to get up and on about the day. My handsome rooster Rogue wakes promptly at 4:30. Why did I let my broody hen hatch a clutch of fertilized eggs? Why?

    It is also true that you can tell the color of the egg by the earlobe. The nutrient profile of the egg is not in any way affected by the eggshell. There is no nutritional difference between a brown egg and a white one, although either have gained in preference depending on what’s in vogue.

    Here are some other facts about chickens:

    New chickens have to be around 5 months old to be introduce into the flock, and it must be done in sufficient numbers. A single new pullet introduced will make you thoroughly understand the origin of the term “pecking order”.

    A hen will lay an egg around every 25 hours. As the cycle gets too late in the day, she will skip a day and start again in the morning. She will usually make a very excited announcement when she lays. If you leave the eggs, and the broodiness has not been bread out of your hen, then she will lay an egg a day in her nest until she has a clutch she deems sufficient. This number is different from bird to bird. Hens tend to like to all lays eggs in the same nesting box, regardless of the number of empty ones available. So if you have a flock, a hen may get up in the morning, decide she is broody, and just hop up onto the communal piles of eggs. The eggs will not start to develop until the hen starts to incubate them, and they are protected from going rotten for weeks. Therefore, if a hen lays an egg a day for 10 days, her first egg is 10 days old and her newest egg will have been laid that day. All will start their gestation clock once she warms them, and all can hatch, even the oldest. Once she starts to warm them, she cannot let them cool, or they will die. You cannot start, stop, and then restart incubation. A hen will typically stop laying when she molts, and when there drops below a certain number of hours of daylight in the day. It is not the temperature that stops her, but the light. Some people will extend laying weeks by including a light in the coop on a timer. My hens are pets, so I prefer to give them the winter time off to build up their calcium levels again. Plus, coop fires are often caused by improper lights.

    A hen is a hormonal mother. She has a chemical internal clock which tells her how long to incubate her eggs. The hen is a mother martyr, and will nearly starve herself, going into a broody trance for around 21 days. She will get up briefly once a day to eat and drink. My broody hen is such a martyr that I have to feed her by hand because I was afraid she would die refusing to get up off the nest. She gets too skinny if I don’t hand feed her. The chicks have evolved to go 3 days without eating when they hatch, because they still have a reserve from the yolk. This is because some eggs can take a few extra days to hatch, and if the hen has to get up to feed the hatched chicks, the ones still hatching would die. That is the source of the Bon Ami doesn’t scratch slogan with the chick on it. A hatchling won’t scratch for food for 3 days. The hen will stay in this broody trance for the 21 days, plus she will give it a few extra until everything has hatched. If you try to introduce a chick for her to adopt in less than 21 days, she will peck it as she would a rat threatening her eggs.

    Hatching takes many hours. It is unwise to hurry this along in anything less than an emergency, because the chick’s circulatory system is partially outside its body. The act of pecking the egg stimulates the chick’s system to seal off its umbilical cord, as well as seal and dry out the veins still attached to the egg. If you see an egg has pipped (the chick has pecked through a hole), and try to crack the egg open to help the chick, it will bleed to death. It can take up to 24 hours for a chick to peck through. I had a problem once where my hen decided brooding time was up, and left the nest when there was one last small egg that had only just pipped. Left without heat, it would die. I had to help it, but mainly I kept it warm while it struggled. Hatching is exhausting. I just made sure it had enough of a hole to breathe through (and chirp loudly through), and helped it a bit here and there. My son kept it on his lap on a heating pad, and it fluffed out and bonded with him instantly. It would cheep frantically if he tried to get up and leave it alone on the pad. Luckily, we were able to reunite it with its hen.

    Chickens are most definitely omnivores. If you ever doubt their distant ancestor was a therapod, of which T Rex was a member, then your doubts will be assuaged the moment you see a hapless mouse wander into a chicken coop. Your sweet, clucking little hens will suddenly become savages, fighting over and tearing the mouse apart. Seriously, invest in rodent proofing your coop and adding a rodent proof feeder. You don’t want your layers consuming rodents. They are happy if you include insects into their diets, or they can forage for them, and their yolks will have a natural rich color.

    One of the most common breeds in the US used for commercial laying is ISA brown. The breed sadly typically lives in battery cages in intensive factory farms. They have one of the highest egg laying ratios, but they give out quickly. If it will not be confined to a small cage, it will have its beak trimmed in a factory farm. Most hens start laying at 5 months. They are usually considered spent by 72 weeks, and slaughtered. Luckily, many egg hobbyists also buy ISAs from the feed store, so they get to live out life as pets with egg benefits.

    Chickens used for broilers, the Cornish Cross, have been bred in the US to basically not be able to survive for long. They have somehow bred them to have voracious appetites, and no mechanism for feeling full. Farmers cannot free feed them like they do most other breeds of chickens, because they will eat themselves to death. They are not genetically modified, but the breed has been developed to be a very unhealthy bird without careful management. If you free feed them, they will soon be unable to walk. Literally. Watching them eat is…weird. It’s like they’ve been starved for days, at every meal. That’s why you cannot free feed them. Their legs would not be able to support their weight. They inhale their food. This breed is considered full grown for processing at only 8 or maybe 9 weeks. Much longer, and they will have problems getting around. I have heard of people who tried to keep them for a year to raise more, but they got too big and unhealthy. I prefer heritage breeds, myself, and consider them to be sad Frankenchickens. With that kind of accelerated appetite, and the way they inhale their food, they must feel ravenous constantly.

      1. You’re quite welcome. Hens make surprisingly good pets, and they come in gorgeous varieties.

  3. the chickens listed below lay green or blue eggs, never check the ear lobes didn’t know they had lobes but we did find out that the green eggs have less cholesterol than the brown and brown less than the white. Also range chickens those not caged have more good stuff diet wise and the white caged chickens have the least.

    What Kind Of Chickens Lay Blue Eggs (Or Green…Or Olive …

    Feb 12, 2016 – Another option for colored eggs, including blue, are Easter eggers, and these aren’t to be confused with Araucanas or Ameraucanas. Easter eggers are not a breed, but rather a hybrid between chickens carrying the blue laying gene and another breed.

    1. Mike – I have some Cream Legbars, and Americauna, which lay blue eggs. The Easter Eggers are kind of a mix, based on the purebred Americauna. They can lay either blue, green, pink, or brown eggs. Cream Legbars are auto sexing. The roos have a white dot on their forehead, and the pullets have chipmunk stripes. This is true for generation after generation. My favorite is the Cream Legbars. The hens remind me of robins. I prefer the Americauna to the Aracauna, because the latter are rumpless.

      This is different from sex-linked birds. If you cross certain breeds of birds, the first generation is sex-linked, which means you can tell by looking at them which are roos and which are pullets. This is invaluable, since backyard chicken keeps are often prohibited from keeping any roos. However, subsequent generations will not have this trait. It is only the first generation of the cross that is sex-linked. After that, the boys and girls all look the same.

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