Chickens Show Empathy

A new study reports that mother chickens physically react when their chicks are in distress.


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Researchers from the University of Bristol have found that hens have physical reactions and show empathy when their chicks are in distress. The study found that female chickens exhibited an intense stress response when their chicks, who the hens were separated from but could smell, hear, and see, were exposed to a puff of air which caused mild distress without harm. The hens also emitted a “maternal vocalization” call, telling the chicks to return to them. Researchers believe the findings are important for farming environments, as animals are exposed to the pain and distress of other members of their species.