I’ve noticed that among my chickens, intelligence levels vary. Miss Samantha has to be one of the sassiest and kindest chickens I have on my smallholding, but she’s also one of the least smart chickens I own.
She is good with the children and doesn’t mind being pushed around in a stroller occasionally.
I don’t know if it’s because of Miss Samantha’s fluffy feather bangs that cover her eyes, but she is simply the clumsiest chicken around. She often walks into things or has long conversations with the hose (it has a red nozzle, so I assume she has mistaken it for a chicken.)
Quite recently, I nearly put the poor dear through a dishwashing cycle, as she thought the rack inside my dishwasher was an excellent place to perch.
Now I know that Miss Samantha is definitely not the brightest chicken in the coop, but it got me wondering…
What are the most intelligent chicken breeds? Numerous intelligent chicken breeds exist, such as the Orpington chicken, the Kelso fighting rooster, and the Delaware chicken. You also have the smart Leghorn chicken and the colorful Easter Egger chicken. Other breeds include the Brahma chicken, Plymouth Rock chicken, the Speckled Sussex chicken, and the Ancona chicken.
Studies show chickens can be smarter than human toddlers and other animals like dogs and cats. These birds also have the same thinking ability as mammals and other primates.
Chickens are naturally smart animals, so it’s unsurprising that some chicken breeds are more intelligent than others. Want to know the smartest chicken in the world? Find out below!
Are Chickens Smart? Signs of Intelligence in a Chicken
Chickens are much more intelligent than we give them credit for, and these feathery birds practice self-control and can understand words. Let’s take a closer look at some more signs of intelligence in a chicken:
- Chickens have over 30 vocalizations and body cues that allow them to communicate with one another (whether for casual chatting or as a warning regarding predators.)
- Chickens have a hierarchy system that helps flock members socialize and develop mental capacity by following a “pecking order.
- Chickens know if there’s a better treat in your pocket, and they’ll exercise self-control until you give them the treat they want.
- They’re selective over who they protect in the flock. If a hawk flew overhead, a rooster would warn a hen. However, if a rival male needed to be warned, the rooster would remain silent (also known as risk compensation).
- Chickens will empathize with another chicken (or their owner) who has been hurt or is stressed. Chickens understand and share those feelings.
- Chickens enjoy solving puzzles by picking at pieces that go in certain places.
- Chickens can be trained to recognize words and can follow specific instructions.
- Chickens are capable of recognizing up to 100 different human faces (including their owners).
9 Most Intelligent Chicken Breeds
If you are looking for a clever chicken, these nine most intelligent chicken breeds are for you. They are considered the smartest chickens in the world because of their unique behavior, substantial memory, and willingness to obey commands. Here’s a closer look at nine of the most intelligent chicken breeds available:
1. Orpington Chicken: Clever and Can Recognize Its Owner
When it comes to clever chickens, the Orpington chicken has both brains and looks. These chickens can recognize their owners by their voice and features, and it’s a treat to see them running across the lawn to greet you. Orpingtons enjoy jumping onto your lap or trying to perch on your shoulder.
It’s not unusual to spot an Orpington chicken following their owner around like a dog would. These chickens enjoy receiving attention and can become quite attached to their humans. Remember, an Orpington rooster is typically not as friendly as the hens, as they can become territorial.
They are known for their fluffy, soft feathers that come in various colors, such as blue laced, buff, red, barred, black, and white. Small to medium size, these chickens have a small head, and you can barely see their legs poking out from under their feathers. Orpingtons have friendly and docile personalities, making them excellent and intelligent pets for children.
Fun Fact: You can train your Orp to come to you and eat treats out of your hand when you call them.
2. Kelso Fighting Rooster: Smart to Win vs. Other Chickens
The Kelso fighting rooster is one of the most intelligent breeds of fighting roosters. This breed has superior intelligence when it comes to fighting other chickens. Unlike other fighting roosters, the Kelso side steps its opponent before attacking.
These roosters are enormous, with multicolored feathers and powerful legs. The rooster’s most prominent feature is the brightly colored main sickles that make this fowl an attractive specimen.
While you can train a Kelso to be tame, please don’t keep them as pets (especially around children). These are very intelligent roosters that are bred for fighting. Therefore they have aggressive and territorial tendencies.
As mentioned, the Kelso rooster is a large breed which means they can easily intimidate and hurt a small child. The roosters also jump in the air and swoop down on their opponent or attacker.
Did you know: A Kelso Fighting Rooster is genetically descended from the Tyrannosaurus Rex?
3. Delaware Chicken: Intelligent in Keeping Peace Inside Coop
The Delaware chicken is a brilliant and chatty breed of chicken, and they often go to roost last to avoid conflict in the coop (or quickly grab a late evening snack while the others are distracted). This breed is quite a plain jane (compared to other breeds) with its white feathers. However, they have black markings on their feathers and tails, making them stand out a little more.
These chickens are a very active breed and have good postures with long muscular legs. Delaware chickens are friendly but aren’t too fond of cuddles. This inquisitive chicken will enjoy following you around as you do chores.
Did you know: Back then, the Delaware chicken was the most popular meat chicken around? As a result, this breed was on the brink of extinction and is still a threatened breed today.
4. Leghorn Chicken: Smart and Easy to Train at Home
One of the most intelligent chicken breeds is the Leghorn (initially called the Italian). Even though Leghorns are super intelligent, resourceful, and easy to train, they don’t make good pets, as they can be pretty skittish and unpredictable. They also don’t enjoy cuddles or attention from their owners.
These feisty chickens are known to be quite cheeky (just like the famous Looney Tunes character, Foghorn Leghorn) and enjoy taking sunbaths when the weather is good.
Leghorns come in various colors, such as red, brown, buff, and silver. The most common color is white. A distinguishing feature of this breed is their big floppy combs. Each chicken is unique, and either has a single or a rose comb (rounded points).
Leghorns communicate with one another by making different sounds and calls. They also use non-verbal sounds such as fluttering their wings, circling enemies, or stamping their claws.
Good to know: You should clip your Leghorn’s wings, as this intelligent breed has mastered the art of flying. They’re able to clear a fence of around 32ft.
5. Easter Egger Chicken: Emotionally Smart, Great House Pets
The Easter Egger chickens are very intelligent, making them perfect house pets, and they can be trained easily. They love children and even try to mother them. They also get along with pets such as cats, dogs, and rabbits.
This chicken breed would win first place at a beauty pageant (unfortunately, they aren’t recognized as an official breed) and have the brains to boot. The Easter Egger chicken gets its name from the multicolored eggs it lays (sounds a lot like the Easter Bunny except for the laying eggs part).
Their eggs come in gorgeous colors like olive, pink, blue, aqua, and green. As for the chicken itself, they have impressive muffs and beards, with blue legs and pea combs. Their feathers also have various colored patterns in impressive colors.
Easter eggers have inquisitive and comical personalities and adore human company. Don’t be alarmed if you find one of these chickens in an unusual spot, as they’re curious and like to poke their beaks where they don’t belong.
Did you know: Chickens experience vivid dreams and can remember experiences (both positive and negative) by the faces they recognize? They even pass this information on to other chickens in their flock.
6. Brahma Chicken: Good-Natured Pets at Home
The Brahma Chicken may look angry with their “beetle-brows” (overhanging eyebrows), but they’re one of the sweetest, friendliest, and most intelligent chicken breeds around. These birds are good-natured and have curious minds, making them perfect pets. They’re very relaxed, enjoy being handled by humans, and are gentle with children and other pets.
The Brahma chicken breed is nicknamed the “Gentle Giant” of the chicken world. These fluffy teddy bear-looking chickens are massive (a typical male weighs around 12 lbs). Their downy feathers cover their legs and look like tweed pants.
This breed comes in 5 different colors (buff, black, white, dark, and light) and is densely feathered (even on their feet).
Good to know: If you love this sweet-natured chicken, but are too big to keep indoors, you’ll be happy to know that Brahmas are also available in bantam size.
7. Plymouth Rock Chicken: Curious, First to Try Something New
Plymouth Rock chickens have intelligent minds and curious natures that often lead them to be the first to try something new, whether trying to perch on the highest fence or exploring a new feed bowl in their run. The Plymouth rooster is generally just as docile as the hens, and they make excellent pets too.
These birds are quirky and love to be the center of attention. Their thick feathers make them appear larger than they are. Their feathers have a speckled black-and-white appearance and are super fluffy (and cuddly).
This breed has bright yellow legs, a red face, and a single comb. Plymouth is very docile, curious, and sweet. They love spending time with humans and enjoy exploring their habitats. This breed is intelligent, which makes them easy to train and tame.
They make perfect pets both outdoors and indoors. Plymouths are very chatty but quiet, as they speak in low tones (perfect for suburban backyards). Plymouths enjoy receiving cuddles and back rubs. They are often seen trying to perch on their owners’ shoulders or sitting on their laps.
Plymouths make excellent mothers, and they take good care of their chicks.
Did you know that a hen will turn her eggs up to 50 times a day to ensure the temperature is evenly distributed and avoid the embryo getting stuck to the shell membrane? The hen often clucks away to her eggs, so the chicks recognize her voice before they hatch.
8. Speckled Sussex Chicken: Smart in Problem-Solving
Speckled Sussex chickens are excellent foragers and have great problem-solving skills. They can follow a ball or an insect behind an object and predict where it will come out (trajectory skills). This shows some strong higher reasoning skills.
These medium-sized chickens are beautiful with their thick mahogany-colored feathers and speckled patterns. The tips of their feathers have greenish-black bars with white speckles.
The Sussex chicken is a feisty and inquisitive bird, especially when they’re young. As they mature, they become very friendly and enjoy being around their owners. They love to receive cuddles and to be stroked.
Did you know: Every time a speckled Sussex chicken molts, their patterns change, and their colors intensify? The males make excellent show chickens with their impressive tail feathers.
9. Ancona Chicken: Enjoys Snuggling and Sits on Your Lap
The Ancona chicken is an intelligent breed that can be tamed and make wonderful pets. They enjoy snuggling into your lap for a cuddle or back scratch. In the winter months, it’s common to find these chickens snuggled up with the dog for extra warmth.
This chicken is an extroverted social butterfly that loves to be seen and heard. They are black and mottled in color and have white v-shaped markings on the tips of their feathers. The markings become thicker every time they molt (this indicates their age.)
This breed stands out amongst other breeds because of their long mottled yellow legs and shiny green feathers. They’re very active birds that enjoy exploring their surroundings and foraging.
As mentioned, this breed is amiable, and you must keep an eye on them. They enjoy interacting with other animals and pets, which can be risky if predators are around.
Did you know: Just like bats, chickens use echolocation to find other chickens, bugs, or predators? They are capable of hearing sounds and tracking them to their origin.
What Animals Are Chickens Smarter Than Table
|Animal Intelligence Comparison:||Which Animal is Smarter||Skills the Smartest Animal Can do|
|Chicken vs. Dog||Chickens are as smarter than dogs||Both chickens and dogs can learn tricks. Chickens have a more complicated social structure than dogs.|
|Chicken vs. Dolphin||Chickens may be as bright as dolphins||A new study found that chickens may have self-awareness, an intelligence that dolphins have more than many other animals.|
|Chicken vs. Human Child||Chickens are smarter than young human children (2 yrs).||Chickens have reasoning skills that young children take months to learn.|
|Chicken vs. Duck||Chickens have the same intelligence as a duck.||Both chickens and ducks can recognize faces, remember details, and be trained to follow simple commands.|
|Chicken vs. Turkey||Chickens have more intelligence than turkeys||Wild turkeys might have more intelligence than chickens, but chickens are smarter than domesticated turkeys.|
|Chicken vs. Cows||Cows are more intelligent than chickens in some ways||Cows show deeper social structures and more complex herd relationships than chickens do.|
|Chicken vs. Monkey||Chickens are as smart as monkeys in many ways||Chickens can perceive time intervals and appear to anticipate future events.|
|Chicken vs. Guinea Pig||Chickens have more intelligence than guinea pigs||Chickens have some understanding of numbers and arithmetic that guinea pigs don’t have.|
|Chicken vs. Elephant||Chickens are possibly as intelligent as elephants.||Chickens can anticipate future events and make logical inferences as much as elephants but don’t have as long of a memory.|
|Chicken vs Chimpanzee||Chickens are as smart as primates in some forms of intelligence||Chickens, monkeys, and chimpanzees can assess their situation, use cunning to create personal advantages, and communicate their intentions.|
|Chicken vs. Cat||Chickens are smarter than cats in many ways.||Both chickens and cats demonstrate cunning abilities to manipulate the situation for their benefit, but chickens show more emotional intelligence in empathy than cats.|
|Chicken vs. Horse||Horses are smarter than chickens.||Horses can respond to multiple-word commands and remember complex training.|
|Chicken vs. Pig||Pigs are smarter than chickens||Pigs are able to solve more complex puzzles than chickens, such as multi-step fence latches.|
Chickens have more intelligence than most people realize and are as smart as many other animals in many areas of intelligence. But, although studies have focused on specific smarts that chickens possess, no studies have covered a comprehensive comparison of intelligence between chickens and other animals.
Intelligent Chicken Breeds FAQs
Chickens have a higher IQ more than we know. But some chicken breeds are even smarter than most chickens. Most are emotionally intelligent, easy to train, and even recognize humans.
What Are The Dumbest Chicken Breeds?
The dumbest chicken breed is the Cornish Cross chicken. The following dumbest chicken breeds are Ayam Cemani, Cochin chicken, Silkie chicken, and the Faverolle chicken. It’s important to note that not all chickens are renowned for their intelligence, and some chickens aren’t that bright such as the breeds mentioned above.
Are Chickens Smarter Than Dogs?
Chickens have the same level of intelligence as dogs. While they won’t perform the same tricks as dogs, they have greater emotional intelligence than some dog breeds. Some chickens can’t learn to perform tricks, but they are found to be more emotionally intelligent that they can remember, recognize people, or even feel pain.
Do Chickens Have Good Memory?
Chickens have an excellent memory and attach good and bad experiences to different faces that these experiences are associated with in their memory. There was even a study about chickens proving that they could recognize up to 100 faces of people they have encountered or seen.
How Smart Are Chickens Compared to a Child?
Studies show that chickens are smarter than young children. Chickens can master tasks and functions that toddlers take months to master, such as mathematical reasoning, self-control, reasoning, planning ahead, and basic structural engineering. Chickens are smarter than a one to two-year-old child, but the child passes chickens in intelligence around two years old.
Do Chickens Have Their Own Language?
Chickens have their own language comprising over 30 different calls (vocalization) and body language. Chickens start learning their language while still in the egg (the mother clucks to them). Each of the sounds chickens make also have different meanings, depending on their surroundings and current status.
After thorough research, I realized chickens are like us in many ways. Some chickens are much more intelligent than others, but all have a basic intelligence level. Wouldn’t it be boring if all chickens acted the same way?
If you spend a little time with these beautiful birds, you’ll see how clever and empathetic they can be. I think it’s safe to say that the term “bird-brained” is a compliment of the highest order.
So, while Miss Samantha isn’t the smartest chicken around, she is the most loving and friendliest chicken I’ve encountered. From now on, I will have to double-check the dishwasher before switching it on because I wouldn’t change her at all.
Chicken Vocalizations: https://www.researchgate.net
Pecking Order Study: https://www.researchgate.net/
National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Chicken Dreams https://www.researchgate.net/
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