When you watch chickens gobbling up everything and anything they come across it makes you wonder what, if anything they can taste, doesn’t it?
Do chickens have taste buds? Yes, recent studies have shown that chickens have around 240-360 taste buds. This is significantly less than us as we have around 10,000.
Do Chickens Have Teeth?
No, chickens do not have teeth.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that teeth are heavy, and a lot of birds are built as light as possible to enable them to fly.
Now, obviously chickens do not fly. At least, not much further than 30 feet or for more than a few seconds.
But a lot of flightless birds that evolved from birds that could fly still carry some of the design features of flying birds. Such as having wings, hollow bones, and features like no teeth to keep their weight down.
The other reason is that they don’t need teeth to break up their food as we do.
Chickens have an organ called a gizzard. They use their gizzard to chew up food with the help of some rough grit.
This is why they peck at food, shake it around, and break it up into swallowable pieces at first. Food then goes into their “first stomach” called the crop, where it mixes with some digestive juices before moving on to the gizzard.
Do Chickens Have Tongues?
The answer to this question surprises most people as chickens do have tongues.
You’ve just probably never seen their tongue as they’re not able to stick it out or move it around much.
They do use their tongues to help guide food and water down their throats, but you’ll never see them poking it out to taste foods.
Most of their taste buds are on their tongues, but it’s believed they are near the back of the tongue. Meaning they have already eaten and swallowed food before they know what it tastes like.
This might have an impact on whether or not they eat more of the same food. It also means that if it’s something they don’t like, it doesn’t taste strong enough to put them off.
Hence why most chickens are more than happy to eat just about anything!
Can Chickens Taste Spicy Foods?
It’s believed that chickens do not possess the receptors needed to taste capsaicin. Capsaicin is the active compound in chilies that give them their hot kick.
I’m not suggesting you test this out by giving them some hot chilies though, I’ve certainly never done that.
Which Foods Do Chickens Like the Taste Of?
This is another interesting question because chickens can be quite picky about what they eat.
It can’t be based on taste buds though, as they don’t have enough and it’s also thought they are at the back of their mouth and tongue. So, they almost have to be swallowing something before they’re really tasting it.
Some chickens will turn their beaks up without even pecking at food sometimes though. This will be based on their other senses. They do have a developed sense of smell and rely on their natural instinct when deciding what is and isn’t safe to eat.
Tests have been carried out offering chickens different foods, such as sour, sweet, spicy, etc. They didn’t show a preference or dislike to any due to their lack of taste buds.
So, to answer the question is likely more a case of what they feel is safe to eat and personal preference rather than what it tastes like.
I've written about a load of different foods chickens like. I recommend checking out some of my posts, such as can chickens eat pineapples, bananas, zucchinis.
In Summary - Do Chickens Have Taste Buds?
Chickens do have taste buds, yes. Just not as many as we do.
A recent study, which you can find here, discovered that chickens have around 240-360 taste buds. Although they have much smaller mouths than us, this does mean their sense of taste is much lower than ours.
When deciding whether or not to eat something, chickens rely on sight and smell rather than taste.