Chickens have a reputation for being simple and unassuming animals.
They scratch at the ground, peck at insects, and cluck contentedly in backyards across America.
But have you ever wondered if these sweet little birds have a hidden appreciation for music?
It may seem like an odd question, but it has intrigued poultry enthusiasts, researchers, and curious minds alike.
In this post, we’ll delve into the curious world of chickens and their potential affinity for music.
Do Chickens Like Music? The Chicken’s Auditory World
Before we delve into the fascinating world of chickens and music, it’s essential to understand the chicken’s auditory capabilities and how they perceive sound.
Chickens have keen hearing. This ranges from vocalizations to noises that serve various purposes in their social and survival behaviors.
They use clucks, cackles, and squawks to communicate with one another, signal danger, or express contentment.
Freshly hatched chicks possess fully developed auditory capabilities.
However, their species-specific developmental potential is constrained due to the absence of a nurturing mother hen and the pervasive high-volume noises within rearing facilities.
Implementing sound playbacks, such as radio broadcasts, may yield positive outcomes.
However, the precise mechanisms through which auditory enrichment exerts its effects—including noise masking, avian habituation to sound, and neurological development—warrant further investigation.
Additionally, the effects of maternal vocalizations remain an area necessitating deeper exploration and study.
While their primary focus might be on the sounds of their fellow chickens and the environment, could they also have an ear for music?
Anecdotal Evidence That Chickens Like Music
Many chicken keepers and farmers have anecdotal stories about their chickens seemingly enjoying music.
Some claim that their chickens respond positively to music by becoming calmer, laying more eggs, or even displaying synchronized movements.
These observations have led to a widespread belief that chickens might have an affinity for music.
In some instances, chicken owners have reported that playing soft, melodic tunes in the coop made chickens appear more relaxed and less prone to pecking or aggression.
Soothing music might have a calming effect on these birds, reducing stress and encouraging healthier behavior.
Finally, Steve Ledsham, who has worked on a chicken farm for more than two decades, says that chickens can go from producing four eggs a week to an incredible eight eggs a week if soothing classical opera music plays in the background.
Scientific Findings That Chickens Like Music
While anecdotal evidence is intriguing, scientific research on whether chickens actually like music is limited but growing.
A few studies have attempted to shed light on this curious topic, and their findings offer mixed results.
Humans and animals prefer “harmonic consonant sound” over “dissonant sound intervals,” thanks to this study from 2011.
Effect of Music on Livestock
This study was conducted on cows rather than chickens (chicken-based music studies are limited!).
And it went into depth and had some interesting findings.
For instance, it revealed that cows produced more milk when music was not playing, but the cows appeared to be more relaxed and had lower heart rates when specific kinds of music were played.
The most relaxing music genres appeared to be lullaby (56 BPM), jazz (57 BPM), classical music (59 BPM), rap (59 BPM), and country music (60 BPM).
The least relaxing music proved to be heavy metal (67 BPM) and Rock (66 BPM).
This same study also helped researchers draw the conclusion that different animals tend to have different musical preferences.
Effect of Music on Laying Hens
This study conducted at the University of Bristol revealed that laying hens seem to prefer classical music.
The hens did not lay any more (or less) eggs, but they did move over to their nesting boxes more often, which is where the classical music was playing.
They chose to be around the music, which indicates that they enjoy it. The hens also chose classical music over the options of pop, rock, or no music.
Effect of Music on Broiler Chickens
This study did not cover whether the chickens actually enjoyed the music or not.
However, it did prove that broiler chickens grew larger while on the same amount of feed and had fewer deaths than chickens who did not listen to music.
Of course, there are almost always a few contradictory studies, so knowing about them is essential, too.
Researchers in Spain found that classical music actually made hens more fearful than chickens who did not listen to music.
Effect of Music on Chicken’s Brain
This study did not search to see if chickens liked music or not, but it did show that chicks who were exposed to music had better brain development than chicks who did not listen to music.
Relaxed birds with lower resting heart rates tend to be happier, healthier and have a longer lifespan. So far, the studies indicate that music is (usually) beneficial in this department.
The Complexity of Chicken Behavior
Understanding whether chickens like music is further complicated.
This is because chicken behavior is influenced by various factors, including their age, breed, and environmental conditions.
Chickens are naturally curious creatures, and they may respond positively to novel stimuli, such as music, simply because it breaks the monotony of their daily routines.
Moreover, chickens are highly social animals, and their reactions to music might be influenced by the presence of their flock mates.
Chickens tend to be more relaxed when they are in the company of their fellow chickens, so it’s challenging to isolate the effects of music from the social dynamics within the flock.
Music Selection and Volume Matters
If you’re inclined to play music for your chickens, you should consider the type of music and the volume at which it’s played.
Chickens have a good sense of hearing, and loud or jarring music could potentially stress them out rather than relax them.
Soothing, melodic tunes, or classical music, as observed in some studies, may be more likely to impact chicken behavior positively.
Plus, chickens don’t have fantastic vision, especially at night. They rely more on their ears than their eyes to watch out for predators.
While music playing in the coop may deter predators, it’s a good idea to keep it at a reasonable volume so your chickens can still listen to what’s happening outside.
Playing Music or Podcasts May Deter Predators from Coops
While some studies suggest that chickens may lay slightly more or larger eggs thanks to music, it is certain that chickens lay 100% more eggs when a predator hasn’t eaten them.
Most predators, especially those in rural areas that are not as exposed to human sounds, are very wary of music and human voices.
You can use this to your advantage by playing music, talk radio, or podcasts in your coop.
This should be used as an added layer of security and not your entire flock-protection plan.
So far, no studies have been conducted on using music or radios to protect coops from predators.
However, there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence, so it’s worth considering. I look forward to reading any studies or research that is released on this in the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about protecting your chickens from predators (with or without music), be sure to read these:
- Chicken Predators: Signs of Attack and Prevention
- How Do You Protect Free Range Ducks from Predators?
- 21 Tips for Keeping Your Chickens Safe from Predators
- Top Winter Predators: How to Keep Your Flock Safe
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Chickens Like It When You Sing?
Chickens respond to music, and the more time you spend with them, the more fond of you they’ll grow.
If you want to develop a good relationship with your flock, take the time to sing or play an instrument for you.
They’ll probably enjoy the music, but more than that, they’ll love having your company and attention.
What Kind of Music Do Chickens Like?
Classical seems to be the universally preferred music for chickens and other livestock.
Still, some research suggests that individual animals have different genre preferences, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the kinds of music you share with them.
Do Chickens Like Music—Final Thoughts
The question of whether chickens like music remains a subject of curiosity and intrigue.
While there is some anecdotal evidence and limited scientific research suggesting that music can have a positive influence on chicken behavior, the definitive answer remains elusive.
If you’re a chicken owner, there’s little to no harm in experimenting with music in your coop.
Some chickens may indeed enjoy the presence of music, while others might not show any noticeable response.
The key is to monitor your chickens’ behavior and adjust your approach based on their reactions.
Ultimately, whether chickens like music or not, the most important thing is to provide them with a comfortable and stress-free environment, nutritious food, socialization, enrichment, and proper care.
So, feel free to serenade your feathered friends with some tunes, but remember that their well-being ultimately depends on the quality of their care and living conditions.
And who knows, you might have the happiest, most musically inclined chickens in the neighborhood!