### Warning: this article contains a fair amount of toilet content ###
The thing about being the curious beings that we are, is that every now and then a really odd question will pop into your head that you just HAVE to have the answer to. You can’t really ask anyone about it, for fear of social repercussions. But it’s going to totally drive you nuts if you can’t figure it out.
So… you do what any respectable adult would do, you keep your mouth shut, pretend that you’ve forgotten about it, and when no one looking… do an online search (incognito).
Which brings us here: the flagellant facts of feathered fowls.
Strictly speaking, a fart is a gas that exits the intestines and as chickens have intestines included in their digestive system, they are fully capable of discharging this gas.
As to where this gas come from, there are two main culprits. The first is air that is swallowed and simply passes all the way through the chicken’s digestive system. The second is gas generated internally by bacteria in the large intestine when it encounters undigested carbohydrates.
Do Chickens Chew Their Food?
How many of you can remember hearing an adult tell you, ‘chew that up before you try and swallow it!’ My parents told me that all the time out fear that I would choke myself. And it all fairness to my parents, as I look back, me making to adulthood really kind of was ‘against the odds’. (When comes to some kids, there is no single guardian angel to keep them safe…there’s a fleet of them!)
As chickens do not have teeth, there is no way for them to chew things up before trying to swallow. The process of breaking food down happens instead, in the bird’s gizzard – not with a mouthful of teeth as in the case of mammals.
Honestly, I would think that this swallowing of things whole would put them at some risk for choking. But I’ve never lost a bird to a bite of food that was too big.
It stands to reason, though, that consuming all of your food in this gulping fashion would add some air to the digestive system. By this logic, chickens should be farting all the time. However, that hasn’t been my experience.
Chickens: A Fart Not Swallowed
As mentioned above, gases (farts) can be generated within a chicken’s intestines. This usually happens from the normal bacteria, found in the lower intestines, reacting with undigested carbohydrates.
So how much carbohydrates will a chicken consume?
It turns out, more than you might think.
Grasshoppers, for example, have a notable amount of carbohydrates. One source put them at almost 4 grams per bug. And considering how many grasshoppers a chicken will eat over the course of the day, that’s a whole lot of carbs!
Again, by this logic, chickens should be some fairly flagellant feathered foragers. But this has not been my experience. Point of fact, I have never heard a chicken fart. I’ve seen a few explosive excretions – and for the record, it is just as gross as one might imagine. But chickens just are not the ‘tooters’ that you would expect.
However, this is not to say that a chicken can’t ‘clear the coop’. I can tell you from personal experience that your friendly little 8lb hen is more than capable of sending a grown man running. It is one of nature’s great mysteries as to how one little fowl can pass something so…foul!
With the variables being what they are, it really is a wonder why chickens aren’t more flagellant. Personally, I’m glad that they’re not. But it really is a testament to a chicken’s physiology that they are able to eat and process food as well as they do.
The more I work with these animals, the more I am impressed. Chickens really are remarkable creatures. They provide us not only with meat and eggs, but quite often with emotional benefits as their antics can be both therapeutic and humorous.
Chickens can also reduce your insect population, including the more detrimental ones such as ticks – known for carrying Lyme Disease. They will destroy any mouse nest they come across, gleefully disposing of its occupants that may be hiding inside.
And let’s not forget the fertilizer that they provide. Though it may sometimes be ‘foul’ to our senses, it generally is not for long and will certainly add benefit to your soil.
I really do admire these feathered little fowls!