LEICESTER, England — Pigs and chickens are more intelligent than most people
believe, scientists said Wednesday.
Chickens can learn from each other and are encouraged by example, and pigs
use subtle social behavior and signal their competitive strength to rivals,
researchers from the University of Bristol in southern England told a science
Despite their reputation as the bird-brains of the avian world, chickens can be
taught what food to eat or avoid, are able to adapt their behavior, and can
learn to navigate, studies have shown.
"There are hidden depths to chickens," said Professor Christine Nichol, who has
studied their behavior.
Pigs have also demonstrated cunning behavior and shown they can exploit the
knowledge of their colleagues to obtain food. They may also be able to
discriminate between different levels of aggressiveness to sort out their social
"Our results suggest that pigs can develop quite sophisticated social
competitive behavior, similar to that seen in some primate species," Dr. Mike
Mendl told the British Association for the Advancement of Science festival.
A better understanding of animal intelligence could help farmers tackle problems
such as aggression in pigs, which causes deaths and injuries and accounts for an
estimated 20 million pounds (US$30 million) each year in lost revenue in
Britain, according to Mendl.