Why Are You In Pain?

A Journey Beyond Symptom Management

How Does Pain Correlate To Chickens Laying Eggs?

How Does Pain Correlate To Chickens Laying Eggs? A black chicken strikes a stately pose.
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There were several questions that popped into my mind about chickens, and about chickens laying eggs. I have related pain, to a lot of different things. But, chickens laying eggs? 

Yet, after getting a little bit of info on the matter, I began to see a possible connection to a pain-based situation. The question that first popped into my mind was, “Are the chickens laying eggs, upset when people take the eggs from their nests on a farm?”

Are Chickens Really Stupid?

Typically, people tend to think that chickens are stupid birds without any sense. I wondered how they would react to being in an environment other than that of the farm; where there were no physical threats at all.

Would they, like humans; become too complacent? Or, would instincts and old programming remain intact? Having instincts is like being pre-programmed.

Are chickens laying eggs really as dense as people think? Do they make any attempt to rise up and protect their eggs?

When I began to look into this I discovered that they do have more intelligence than people give them credit for. For many people who raise chickens, the answers vary.

Tricking The Chickens

Some say they leave things in the nest like a golf ball when they take the eggs out. They claim that the hens don’t notice as long as something is still there in the nest that resembles an egg.

Still others say that the hens do notice and do not return to that nesting box once they’ve seen someone take eggs out.

How Does Pain Correlate To Chickens Laying Eggs? Hens looking for nesting areas.

My thoughts were based on the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons from years ago. That “lil old hen” would always squawk and be so upset when her little chick was missing.

Plus, the cartoon showed the chickens laying eggs, then sitting on them. Whenever the farmer came around to collect, the hens would be squawking loudly and looking around under their bellies, as if they were missing their eggs. 

Family Connections

I have witnessed animals mourning the loss of their family or a mate. They were evidently in great distress and pain at the loss. 

There are videos that demonstrate this. So why not a chicken? I wondered if chickens laying eggs felt the pain of loss when the farmer took their eggs?

So why do the chickens laying eggs continue to do so, if they’re aware that the eggs are going to be taken? Furthermore, how is it that they keep laying eggs without any of them being fertilized?

Every other animal mates prior to “hatching” their offspring. Other birds in the wild have fertilized eggs. So isn’t it part of the natural instinct of chickens laying eggs to get them fertilized prior to the laying them?

Operant Conditioning

After asking all these questions, and doing a little digging but I discovered something. Like people and other animals, chickens can be taught. They can be programmed. They are capable of remembering routines.

The reason that there are chickens laying eggs so frequently; is due to the fact that they have been preconditioned. They are so preconditioned, that they can lay eggs without them being fertilized. The process is called brooding.

“If a chicken’s eggs are removed on a regular basis, she will continue to lay, in a futile attempt to follow her instincts and form a proper brood. In fact, a chicken’s nesting instincts are so strong that they will continue to try to build a brood whether or not there is a rooster present to fertilize their eggs.*

“It is believed that chickens cannot tell which eggs have been successfully fertilized.” Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Chickens Laying Eggs Are Brooding

Additionally, oftentimes they don’t notice that their eggs are being taken and they continue to lay more eggs. However, as explained by the author listed above; the chickens laying eggs are indeed attached to their eggs, and do miss them when they are taken.

This brought me back to the human element in this picture. It seems that even creatures like chickens laying eggs; who have never been credited with much intelligence; are sensitive to loss, and can learn.

There are several lessons here, first, let me explain to you the difference between innate behaviors or natural instinct vs operant conditioning. The first time a human or an animal does something, and they do it correctly, this action is based upon innate behavior or natural instinct.

Operant behavior, on the other hand, is based on experience and is learned behavior. How does pain correlate with these concepts in humans?

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