Chickens are fascinating animals. There are so many things about their anatomical makeup that play a vital role in their existence.
In this article, I’m going to explain why some of their bones are hollow.
Do chickens have hollow bones? Chickens do have some hollow bones, yes. Although they are not completely hollow, they have some support structures inside, as well as fluid and air.
Why Do Chickens Have Hollow Bones?
Chickens actually have two types of bones in their skeletal system; pneumatic and medullary bones.
Each type of bone serves the following purpose:
Medullary - Their medullary bones, which include their shoulder blades, ribs, and leg bones, help to store calcium. Laying hens need a lot of calcium to produce strong eggshells, more than they could use from diet alone during the egg making period.
Pneumatic - These are the bones that are “hollow”. Such as their pelvis, lower back, and collar bone. Most are attached via their air sacs to their respiratory system, which is commonly found in birds as it helps them take flight.
Their hollow bones are designed to reduce their weight and supply oxygen quickly to help them fly.
Although, despite having the skeletal design of a flying bird, chickens are not great at flying. They can manage a height of about 10 feet and a distance of 30 feet or so at best.
Do All Birds Have Hollow Bones?
Not all birds have hollow bones, no. Some birds have lost this trait through evolution to adapt and survive to the conditions they live in.
Penguins are a good example. They have dense, heavy bones as they need to be able to dive into water and swim.
The interesting thing is that a lot of flightless birds, like chickens, turkeys, ostriches, etc. have hollow bones. These bones still serve a purpose, such as supplying oxygen, but they don’t need to fly.
Related content - How far will free range chickens roam?
Do Chickens Have Bones in Their Wings?
Yes, chickens do have bones in their wings.
They have a humerus, ulna, and a radius, all of which connect at the elbow joint. As well as metacarpus and carpus bones which are their “hand” and “wrist” bones.
If you hold out a chicken’s wing and fan out their feathers you’ll get an idea of how the bone structure looks.
All of the bones in their wings are extremely light which is obviously essential for flight.
In Summary - Do Chickens Have Hollow Bones?
The skeletal system of a chicken is complex and cleverly designed.
They do have some hollow bones in their bodies. As well as some extremely light bones in their wings, and some bones that help provide the calcium they need to produce eggs.
Most birds that fly have hollow bones to lower their weight and enable them to fly. A lot of “flightless” birds like chickens and ostriches still have this feature, although chickens can at least pretend to fly compared to an ostrich.
The skeleton of a chicken - Dummies.com
Bird Anatomy - Wikipedia