Can Chickens Smell? Ways That They Use It

If you own backyard chickens, you may wonder about a lot of things. One of the things you may be interested in is smell. Many animals rely on their smell to survive, whether it’s searching for food or escaping danger. As for chickens, can they smell?

So, can chickens smell? Yes, chickens can smell. They are able to use their sense of smell to detect food, recognize people, and even sense danger around them.

How Well Can Chickens Smell?

Chickens actually have a very good sense of smell. Baby chickens can smell even before they are even hatched.

A simple test was done where a certain food smell was placed close to the shell of the unhatched chick. It was left there until they hatched. After the chick hatched, they were drawn to that smell over other smells.

Sense of smell is very important for chickens. They use their smell to detect predators and other dangers around them.

Also, their smell is to help them locate food when they are foraging in the soil. They are able to pick up snails, earthworms, and other creatures in the ground.

Can Chicken Smell Food?

Yes, chickens can smell food. In the wild, they use their sense of smell to forage for food. They’ll scratch and dig up dirt to find small creatures in the soil to eat.

Backyard chickens will use their smell to search for food as well. Besides foraging for food, they will know when you have food for them.

As you are coming closer to them, the chickens will start to run after you due to the smell of food. 

Chickens are known to recognize some smell if it’s a regular scent that they are used to every day. One of them could be chicken feeds. If you give them the same feed every day, they’ll recognize the smell of it.

Can Chicken Smells Fear?

A lot of animals use their sense of smell to help keep themselves safe. When it comes to chickens, they too do use their smell to keep them away from danger.

Chickens have survived for thousands of years in the wild. This gives them the ability to smell when something is wrong in their environment.

There has been a study done that suggests chickens can smell fear, according to a study that is published on the Global Animal Network.

In this study, the different area was created by scenting it with predator odors. The hen was observed as they approached the area with the predator odors and the area that had no odors.

The result showed that hens do in fact can detect and tell the difference between the odor of predators and regular odors.

Can Chickens Smell Predators?

Yes, chickens can smell predators. According to Linköping University, researchers were able to show that domestic chickens can detect predators by using just their sense of smell.

The chickens know who their predators are. When tiger droppings were left near the chickens, they reacted to the scent.

However, droppings from other animals such as antelopes and elephants left the chicken unaffected.

As you can see, backyard chickens can detect predators around them by using just their sense of smell.

What Smells Do Chickens Hate?

It depends on the individual chicken. Some chicken will hate a certain smell of food, while others will like it.

For the most part, a lot of chickens hate the smell of citrus. This includes oranges, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Chickens will turn away once they see any of these fruits.

However, there are a few chickens that enjoy eating citrus fruits because they like the smell of it. So, it just comes down to each chicken.

Another thing that chickens hate is the smell of some herbs. Some of them have a very strong smell, which they will not go near.


Chicken has a great sense of smell that helps them find food and protect them from predators and danger. If you have food with you, your chickens will be able to recognize the smell of it. After feeding them the same food for a while, they’ll get accustomed to the smell and know when food is about to arrive.