A chicken for every pot

the economics, evolution and ethics of the modern chicken

Carolynn L. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Humans began the transformation of wild jungle fowl into modern day chickens over 8,000 years ago. Over the past 70 years, chickens have become an increasingly important economic and dietary stable throughout the world. There are now over 20 billion chickens on farms worldwide. However, research has revealed that chickens are not as simple as humans once believed. They exhibit complex communication, social learning, numeracy and deception, as well as depression-like symptoms. These findings suggest that chickens posses both access and phenomenal consciousness. This raises critical questions about the effects of selective breeding and the impacts that the current housing systems have on these complex animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Zoologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • chickens
  • ethics
  • animal welfare
  • consciousness
  • cognition
  • communication

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