Understanding chicken learning and cognition and implications for improved management

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Abstract

The overview of research on the learning and cognitive abilities of chickens provided here reveals some complex cognitive processes which often surprises people not familiar with chicken behaviour. As a precocial species, domestic chicks quickly learn from the individuals and environment around them. Once in production systems chickens form associations with a number of events and show flexible and sophisticated learning. Studies of more advanced animal cognition, previously mainly undertaken on mammal subjects, indicates that chickens have a wide range of impressive cognitive skills. An understanding of chicken cognition processes could be applied to improve feeding behaviour, reduce feather pecking and cannibalism and achieve better dispersal and movement in large-groups such as free range systems. Lastly, the demonstrated complexity in mental abilities of chickens raises the question of whether we should re-frame our view and treatment of chickens as both a research animal and a production animal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding the behaviour and improving the welfare of chickens
EditorsChristine Nicol
PublisherBurleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited
Chapter4
Pages1-27
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003048039
ISBN (Print)9781786764225
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2020

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    Freire, R. (2020). Understanding chicken learning and cognition and implications for improved management. In C. Nicol (Ed.), Understanding the behaviour and improving the welfare of chickens (1st ed., pp. 1-27). Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781003048039