Chickens do not have teeth, no. Birds, in general, do not have teeth as it would make it more difficult for them to fly. They do not need teeth to chew food either as they have an organ called a gizzard that chews up food.
Of course, chickens are not great at flying. In fact, they can hardly fly at all. This is more to do with selective breeding by farmers and scientists making them fatter for more meat than anything else.
Still, the reasons why chickens and other birds do not have teeth are interesting. Here’s a more detailed look at why chickens do not have teeth:
Why Do Chickens Not Have Teeth?
Scientists believe that birds had teeth at one point, but have evolved without teeth as it aids their flight.
There is more evidence to support this when you look at chickens and other birds and see that they have several ‘design’ features that help them fly.
Obviously, chickens are not able to fly as well as other birds. But they’re still birds and have a lot of the same features as birds that can fly.
They have some hollow bones, their beaks help with aerodynamics, they have feathers, they have wings, and they do not have teeth.
The reason why not having teeth is a big deal for flight is because teeth are heavy. It would also change the shape of their beaks and would greatly hinder how effectively a bird could fly.
Related - Learn more about why chickens have hollow bones here.
Don't Chickens Need Teeth to Eat?
Nope, they do not need teeth to eat. This is obvious due to the fact that they do not have teeth, and they’re perfectly able to eat just about anything they want!
The reason why chickens - and other birds - do not need teeth to eat is that their digestive systems are very different from ours and other animals with teeth.
If you’ve observed a chicken eating, you will have noticed they peck at food to break it up a little, then swallow the food whole.
That food then goes into their crop. This is a kind of storage area at the front of their chest area, and food typically sits there until a chicken is sleeping.
While asleep, a chicken’s digestive system gets to work. Food moves from the crop through to their stomach which is called a gizzard.
The gizzard is the reason why chickens do not have or need teeth. It’s a strong muscle that contracts and - along with grit like stones, sand, etc. - ‘chews’ up food into smaller, digestible bits.
From the gizzard, food moves into the small intestines where nutrients are absorbed. The leftover food then works its way out of the chicken as waste matter.
It’s an interesting and fascinating process. It serves as a reminder as animals have evolved to function within their own environments and with the resources they have available.
Can a Chicken Bite You?
Chickens cannot bite you, well they can try to. you don’t really need to worry about being bitten, chewed, or anything along those lines though as they don’t have teeth.
Hens will peck at you to defend themselves if they feel threatened, or just because they want to sometimes.
Despite having a very strong beak, their pecks do not hurt through. I’ve never heard of a hen drawing blood on someone, so it’s not something to be scared of if you’re handing them some food.
This is a bit of a surprise because hens can do some serious damage to one of their flock mates when they want to pick on them.
Roosters, on the other hand, are much nastier. They will peck with bad intentions, and they’ll also try to cut or stab you with their spurs.
Beware of aggressive roosters, mind your fingers when feeding chickens, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
What Are Chickens' Teeth Called?
I know this article has been all about explaining why chickens do not have teeth, but there is an exception you need to know about.
When a chick develops in the egg - and this is true of most egg-laying species - they have one large tooth on the tip of their beaks called an egg tooth.
They use their egg tooth to break out of their eggs and hatch. Chicks literally chip away at the shell and make a line across the eggshell called ‘zipping’ their way out.
Related - Learn more about chicks’ egg teeth here.
How Rare Is a Hen's Tooth?
Have you heard the saying, “As rare as a hen’s tooth”?
People say this when they’re describing something that is very unlikely to happen. You now know why people say this - because a hen doesn’t have teeth, so it’s not just rare, it’s impossible!
The fact that chickens do not have teeth and do not need them to chew up their food is one of the more interesting and lesser known things about chickens.
The short explanation is that chickens do not have teeth because it would make it harder for them to fly as teeth are heavy, and are not as aerodynamic as a beak.
They also do not need teeth to chew up food as they have an internal organ called a gizzard that chews food for them to digest.
Related - Do chickens have tongues?
Image credits - Photo by laura adai on Unsplash