In this article, I’m addressing something that doesn’t quite add up….when eating out or browsing the freezer section of the supermarket you’ll see something called “chicken fingers” for sale.
Yet, if you look at a chicken. Or, you probably don’t even have to look at one to know - chickens have wings, they don't have hands with fingers.
So, what exactly are chicken’s fingers? Do chickens really not have fingers? If so, why are they called chicken fingers?
So many questions around something so obscure - but I just had to find out the answers!
Do Chickens Have Fingers or Toes?
Right, let’s get something clear off the top. Chickens do not have fingers. They have wings, so they don’t have arms, hands, digits, fingers, anything like that.
They do, however, have toes.
Chickens typically have 4 toes on their feet. Three spread out pointing towards the front, and one pointing out towards the back. Giving them an excellent base for balancing.
There are a few breeds that have 5 toes, such as non-bearded Silkies, Sultans, Dorkings, Faverolles, and Houdens. This 5th digit doesn’t serve any purpose though, it usually doesn’t even come into contact with the floor.
Even though they can’t fly as other birds can. Their wings are essential to their survival in the wild. They will use them to reach high up perches to sleep safely overnight, as they do on roosting bars in coops, and to flee predators.
If you’re wondering why they have this “design flaw”, it’s because we have bred chickens to be heavier for the purpose of meat.
They’ve now reached the point where their wings are not strong enough to carry their own weight at any decent distance.
If you’re interested in learning more about a chicken’s foot and how they use their toes, please read this article:
Related - Do chickens have toes?
How Many Fingers Does a Chicken Have?
None. They don’t have fingers as I explained above. If you’re skimming and want to know more, please go back and you’ll see they have 4 toes, no fingers.
Are Chicken Fingers Actually Chicken Fingers?
This is where the confusion about whether or not chickens have fingers comes from.
“Chicken fingers” are strips of chicken usually cut from the breast tenderloin, then coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.
They call them chicken fingers because they are similar thickness and length to a typical human finger. Not a chicken finger, because they don’t have fingers!
If they did, just think how small they would be anyway.
It’s just a marketing term used to describe this type of chicken strip. The more you think about it, the more it doesn’t really make much sense. Plus, it sounds a lot less appetizing when you think about these strips actually being chicken fingers… eww.
I’m not trying to put you off though. I love raising backyard chickens as pets, and I also love eating chickens. This includes chicken fingers, although it’s more a buffet snack food really, so I don’t have them that often.
There you have it, a chicken finger is not actually a chicken finger, because, well, chickens don’t even have fingers.
Chicken fingers that you buy are actually strips of tender chicken breast cut into finger-sized shapes and covered with breadcrumbs.
Chickens do have feet with toes as we do. Although they only have 4 toes (with a few exceptions as discussed above).
They don’t have arms, hands, or fingers. They have wings instead because they are birds. They aren’t great at flying though, chickens are built for the dual-purpose of laying and providing meat.