Do Chickens Have Ears? Influence on Egg Color

Do chickens have ears? Some of you may be laughing at the absurdity of the question but it’s actually quite a good one. If you have inspected the chickens closely, you may conclude that they do not have ears or earlobes. 

At first glance, it seems like a pretty simple yes or no question but as you dive deeper you realize things are not as simple as you anticipate. So, without further ado, let us answer this question once and for all.

Do Chickens Have Ears?

Yes, Chickens have ears, however, the answer also depends on how do you define an ear. To most people, it is the fleshy appendage attached to the outside of the skull and for some, it is a part that works with sound and vibrations.

If an ‘ear’ for you is a set of organs that interpret sounds and vibrations, so, yes, chickens do have ears. If you consider it to be something attached visibly to the skull, then chickens do not have ears, they have earlobes. Like humans, cats, dogs, and animals, they do not have a protruding outer ear.

Where Are Chickens’ Ears Located?

Chickens’ ears are not visible and protruding like humans. They usually do not respond when you call them which makes one question do they have ears or good hearing sense? They have two ears on either side of the head.

Their earlobes are usually hidden under the feathers, which is the reason they are not usually visible. If you want to have a look, push back the feathers on either side of the head and you will witness an opening called the ear canal. 

The ears are located slightly lower than the eyes which allows them to pick up sounds from all directions and have a good sense of hearing. This helped them as an essential warning system when living in the wild.

Do Newborn Chicks have ears?

You may not know but hens begin to develop hearing on the 12th day of the incubation period. Ears are not a body part that appears magically after a certain age. They are present when the chicks are born.

Ears can be easily seen on either side of the head in chicks as they are yet to be concealed by the dense feathering.

Ears become harder to spot with a thicker coat of feathers covers them as chicks begin to grow.

A hole is seen further back from the eyes in a different shade. Baby chicks begin to hear as soon as they are born. With fully intact and functioning ears, they can communicate with their mothers. 

Studies have shown that chicks raised without their mothers use auditory cues like tapping to identify food. These auditory cues are identical to the pecking noise of the hen which is an indicator that there is food close by.

chicken-ears

Chicken Ears Anatomy 

The anatomy of a chicken ear is quite similar to that of human beings. Chicken ears have eardrums, the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, and earlobes. Unlike humans, each part is present on the inside. 

Earlobes are the only part visible and seen hanging from the head, the rest of it looks like a hole. The Middle ear of the chicken contains a single bone and cartilage structure called the Columella. 

The Columella is responsible for transmitting vibrations to the inner ear, the inner ear, then, works to analyze the vibration. Columella transfers impulses to the cochlea in the inner ear where it is absorbed by special nerve ends and the information extracted is forwarded to the auditory nerve. Here, the information delivered is decrypted.

Do Chicken Earlobes Influence the Color of Eggs?

It is believed that the color of the earlobes determines the egg’s color. Chicken earlobes have a wide range of colors from white to black. For instance, chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, whereas chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. 

However, some breeds are exceptions to this rule that the color of earlobes decrees egg colors like blue egg-laying Ameraucanas lack blue earlobes. However, in general, the rule stays firm with some exceptions.

Scientists have yet to find the reason why this correlation between earlobes and egg colors happens. However, the general consensus among scientists is that the genes that determine the color of the earlobe and eggshell are close together.

In the beginning, all the eggshells are white, later on, the pigment from chicken gives them different colors. The color of eggs is determined by the availability of porphyrins which occur once hemoglobin is broken down. This whole process is under genetic influence which ensures the color of an egg is influenced by genetics.

Here we are throwing a little Fun Fact your way, the color of the earlobe affects the color of the whole ear. If the earlobe is red the rest of the ear would also be red.

The color of the egg does not influence the nutritional value of the egg. Be it brown, blue, or white eggs, they have the same nutritional profile.

chicken-earlobe

Chicken Earlobes Health Checks

Checking earlobes gives away any early signs of illness. Make sure, next time when doing health checks, do not forget to inspect ears as well.

  • The skin should not be dry, rough, and scabby but smooth.
  • Color should stay normal and not change.
  • No signs of scabs and dried blood.
  • They do not look ashen.

Chicken Ear infections

Chicken is likely to get ear infections and it is the commonly missed or most undiagnosed chicken health issue. The good news is any ear-related disease can be cured easily with a short anti-biotic course. 

One of the reasons these infections remain undiagnosed is because it is not easy to look inside the ears. These infections can affect all or some parts of the ears.

  • Outer Ear – The outer ear infections are usually inflammation caused by bacterial and fungal organisms. Pruritus causes the poor bird to scratch their ears leaving them red and swollen with a stiff clump of feathers.
  • Middle Ear – These kinds of infections are usually caused by chronic bacterial infection or tumor that enters the ear through the small opening in the roof of the mouth, infundibular cleft.
  • Inner Ear – Inner ear infections usually result from viral infections and lead to neurological signs in affected chickens. Common symptoms include head tilt, loss of coordination and balance, and torticollis (wry neck).

Do Chickens Develop Hearing Loss with Age?

Humans develop hearing loss with age but not chickens as their ears are evolved to repair their hearing cells. Chickens are able to regenerate any damaged hair cells in their cochlea (inner ear) which means their hearing remains on point through life. 

Read an interesting guide about Corid Dosage For Chicken

Do Chickens Have Good Hearing?

Chickens have sensitive ears and a good sense of hearing. Moreover, they can hear low-frequency sounds even better than humans with a range of 10-12000 Hz whereas the low-frequency sound range heard by humans is 20-20000 Hz. Chickens have good hearing sense below 64 Hz.

Putting it all together, just because the chicken ears are not visible does not mean it’s not there. Often concealed by feathers, chickens do have earlobes on each side of the head. Just push aside the feathers and see for yourself.

Resources

  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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