[H]ens can count — at least to six. They can be taught that food is in the sixth hole from the left and they will go straight to it. Even chicks can do basic arithmetic, so that if you shuffle five items in a shell game, they mentally keep track of additions and subtractions and choose the area with the higher number of items. In a number of such tests, chicks do better than toddlers.
But you wouldn’t keep your toddler in a cage and let it defecate on other toddlers, would you? Although maybe that’s a good model for child-rearing, if you want your child to be a math genius and/or have oversized breast meat. Until we get someone to volunteer for that experiment, though, those of you who are childfree but own backyard chickens can feel good about your choices, at least if you need some help with accountancy.
- Are Chicks Brighter Than Babies? , New York Times
Get Grist in your inbox