Do Chickens Smell?

The answer is quite simple, the real question here is are you going to enjoy spending time with your chickens? If the answer is yes, then the time you spend will mostly be fussing over your birds. In other words, fussing over your chickens means you’ll not only be cleaning up after them, but find enjoyment in creating attractive and functional housing.

All animals require effort to keep clean, and if you neglect to do so, it’s a sure bet they’re going to smell. If you look at keeping chickens realistically, what else are you going to do with them besides pick eggs and care for their living environment? We don’t sit and pet them as a rule, and training them to do tricks is certainly not going to be a success story… instead, we fuss over their coops.

Bottom line, if you spend time with your birds, then no, chickens don’t smell. Fussing over your birds makes for a happy flock, and a happy flock is what fills the egg basket!

Here’s a few pics of my chicken set-ups… lots of fussing over chickens at TBN Ranch…

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The Chicken’s Senses

Hearing and Sight

Chickens have an acute sense of hearing; they don’t have an ear lobe but have a well developed ear. They have panoramic vision of about 300°, and binocular of about 26°. They can’t rotate their eyes very much, therefore, move their head to follow objects. Their ability to discriminate color is yet to be learned.

Rhode Island Red


A large part of their communication is postural, which signifies both threat and submission. But I have observed vocal communication skills which indicated a wide variety of sounds pertaining to:

  • Mating
  • Contentment
  • Food
  • Danger / Fear
  • Submission
  • Territories
  • Distress
  • Warning
  • Nesting
  • Laying eggs


My observations on the chicken’s ability to taste is limited to their dislike of food that is bitter, sour, too sweet, or too salty. They have about 340 taste buds in comparison to a human’s 10,000. They don’t like drinking water that is warmer than their body temperature, but show a liking for near freezing water.


There is very little research available about a chicken’s sense of smell, or if it’s of any significance to them at all.  But one thing I know for sure, they have an incredible sense of smell for blood.

Observe your Chickens

The best way to better understand your chickens is to watch them, observe their behavior and their individual character traits.  Every member of your flock has likes and dislikes, and a personality all their own. In time, you will be able to identify behaviors by a specific sound or call.  There is a structured language among your flock members, listen, watch, and learn!

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