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Do Chickens Have Taste Buds?

Do Chickens Have Taste Buds?


Today, we get to talk about a fascinating topic. I get asked quite often about things chickens can and cannot eat and if there are certain foods they prefer. Their taste preferences seem to be quite different from mine! Why is that? Some people are surprised to learn that chickens have tongues. Their tongues are hard to see, but they are in there!


A chicken’s tongue is triangular and relatively small. Chickens don’t have teeth to chomp their food, and for the most part, unless you’re up close and personal, it’s hard to see that they have a tongue. The tongue helps chickens pick up their food and treats. Chickens' tongues fit on the inside of their lower beak, and along with picking up food and making cute noises, their tongues help them taste, but only a tiny bit. 


Do Chickens Have Taste Buds?

You can see Tinkerbell's tongue sitting on the lower beak. She was telling me important things, I’m sure. 😀


Humans have 8,000-10,000 taste buds while the average chicken has less than 350. That’s quite a difference! Also, the taste buds of a chicken are located in the back of their oral cavity, so they don’t really taste much until it’s already on the way down! There isn’t much savoring on their part. They see something and commit and swallow. There are a few taste buds on their tongues, but not many. Another fun fact is that the number of chicken taste buds varies by age, breed and gender.


Chickens don’t have the same taste buds as humans. They have a more challenging time tasting sweet and spicy things. That’s why we can feed them cayenne or red pepper flakes and they don’t bat an eye. It’s also why they don’t get as excited about sweets as I do! Haha!


You know how we say we eat with our eyes first? That’s exactly what chickens do! They are usually quite clever in what they can and cannot eat. This is mainly done with their eyes. They likely choose their food based on its size, shape or color.

Chickens can see incredibly well in daylight. In fact, they can see more colors than the human eye can! This makes it easier for them to pick out the “treats” in the yard while free-ranging. My flock goes wild for watermelon. I suppose the fruit's bright red color with the rind's contrasting green draws them in.

Do Chickens Have Taste Buds?

So, I hate to break it to you, but just because you think your flock may love some of the same foods as you, they definitely don’t get the same taste experience!


Chickens are so unique and fun to watch. Pay attention sometimes when you’re out in the yard with them. They will pick up the one blade of green grass in a dead spot, find a bug you never would have seen and can spot a bag of Happy Tract and Golden Graze from a mile away! They get very excited about these two treats, and I know what I'm giving them is healthy and full of good things!


Feeding your chickens a well-balanced diet (with a few treats) is very important for their overall health and egg-laying abilities. Chickens don’t care too much about taste as long as they get good, healthy food!


Until next time,


–The Wing Lady





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