Study makes game-changing discovery about chickens

The findings of a researcher with The Someone Project could change everything we think we know about chickens.

According to Lori Marino, who reviewed myriad recent studies on the fowl in creating her own assessment of chicken intelligence, emotional capability, and social behavior, they're quite advanced.

Research has shown the birds are capable mathematicians, able to discern one quantity from another and perform basic calculations.

Even the young possess the skill.

One study cited by Marino involved 5-day-old chicks that were shown two object groupings containing different numbers of components.

Learn about the benefits of raising chickens cage-free:

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NTP: Cage-free chickens
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NTP: Cage-free chickens
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When the piles were hidden from view, the chickens were able to locate the larger of the collections.

The birds are not just about the brains, though.

A press release about the study notes, "The birds are able to experience a range of complex negative and positive emotions, including fear, anticipation and anxiety. They make decisions based on what is best for them. They also possess a simple form of empathy called emotional contagion."

That may inform their strong sense of community and understanding of social order.

When chickens sense danger, they call out to others. They also seem to have an ability to assess where in the social hierarchy they stand.

Given her findings, Marino suggests that, in a number of ways, chickens operate at a cognitive level not unlike that of a 7-year-old human.

RELATED: Check out these chickens all bundled up for the winter:

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Chickens in sweaters
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(Photo: Getty Images)
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