There is never a dull moment living with backyard chickens. I’m constantly surprised by just how social and full of personality they are. Although I know they have friends within the flock to keep them company, for comfort and companionship, I have wondered does my chicken miss me when I leave?
Being a proud chicken owner, and because of my endless fascination, I had to get to the bottom of it!
Here is whether chickens really do miss their owners, how they show affection, and how they really feel when you leave.
Do Chickens Miss Their Owners?
Chickens may seem like simple creatures, but they’re highly intelligent and surprisingly social backyard birds. There’s no doubt their flock plays a vital part in the chicken’s development, health, and wellbeing. But, did you know that the chicken’s keeper is also considered an important social figure in your chicken’s life?
Research shows that chickens are much more intellectually capable than we could have ever imagined. Chickens can identify up to 100 unique human faces, and even associate positive and negative experiences with each face. And this, my backyard farmers, is the foundation to building a strong, true bond with your chickens.
This also explains how over time your chickens become comfortable and feel safe around you, and eventually grow to consider you a companion.
So, chickens are entirely capable of experiencing a range of emotions. Including missing their owners when they’re gone. They may not be big on showing their affection like dogs, but chickens do have several ways that they show affection to their owners.
Can Chickens Show Affection To Their Owners?
A backyard chicken may not give you clear signals of affection like a dog would, and frankly, it would be scary if they did!
But, interestingly enough, once you get to know the signs your chicken likes you, it’s really not so different after all — and it’s not just because you bring them food, water, and provide them shelter!
Chickens show affection through their distinct clucking, following you around the yard, and sprinting to you screaming when you go out to see them (this one’s my personal favorite, it makes me laugh every time!). These behaviors can also be observed between themselves, suggesting chickens can have friends in the flock.
So it’s clear chickens have their own style of showing love and appreciation. One way to socialize with your chickens and encourage bonding is to spend time with them and talk to them. You’ll notice they’ll continue to cluck back almost like a conversation. You may even see them tilt their heads toward you and look you in the eyes like they’re trying to understand you.
Do Pet Chickens Get Attached To Their Keepers?
So, with all these emotions and clear recognition and affection toward their keepers, do backyard or pet chickens actually get attached to their keepers?
Well, chickens learn by association. This helps your chickens learn what’s safe and dangerous. For example, chickens will associate certain colors and shapes with happiness, and others with danger.
In the same way, your chickens will associate food, comfort, care, and shelter with their keepers. So, from this perspective, chickens indeed get attached to their keepers, as they associate their keeper with all these positive emotions that come with these loving actions.
A lot of people are a victim of circumstance and may have to part ways with their beloved chickens at some point in their lives. But don’t worry, although your chickens will no doubt miss you, if they remain with their flock, or have another loving flock and family to join they will soon return to their normal, happy, hilarious selves.
Do Chickens Get Lonely Without Their Owners?
Just like us, chickens need to be part of a social group to thrive and stay in good health.
Keeping chickens isolated can increase their level of stress and anxiety. Some even peck at their feathers to the point of harming themselves. It’s one of the ways they deal with feelings of loneliness and boredom. Loneliness and lack of companionship can cause your chickens to get sad and become quiet and reserved.
Not only that, but studies show that being alone can shorten their lifespan, and it will likely impact egg production of a laying hen too.
But, so long as you keep your chicken in a flock of at least three (recommended) then they’ll have enough companionship to keep them company while you’re gone, and shouldn’t get lonely at all.
Chickens should be given much more credit than most people do, as their incredibly intelligent (comparatively speaking) and social creatures. Chickens do miss their owners, which is evidenced by how much attention and affection they give us when we return — with or without treats!
But, you shouldn’t be concerned about it, as their flock provides them with all the moral support and companionship they need to get them through their busy productive days!