You have noticed that sometimes the chickens rub their beaks on the ground. You may have a question: why do chickens scratch their beaks on the food, ground, or hard surfaces like rocks?
They may even rub on your clothes. Some ornithologists who have experience in ornithology, experts, or researchers like George A. Clark, Jr. have a great explanation and concept about it. They reviewed that bills or beaks may open or close during rubbing or wiping time. Innes Cuthill also studied chicken’s activity.
Some scientists are trying to change the chicken DNA in an embryo so that the beak can convert to another size.
Do you know,
1. Do they beak (bill) wiping?
2. Why do hens keep scratching on the ground surface?
There may also be some important reasons that you need to know if you want to get more information about hens. This information may help you if you are a poultry starter.
If you want to start a new business or keep broiler chickens in your house as a personal hobby, you should have basic knowledge about chickens.
Female and male ducks, waterfowl, and some farm animals don’t have sharp beaks in their mouths. Beak scraping is not important for them. On the other hand, poultry birds (chickens) need beak scraping regularly.
So, continue reading to get more data about chicken rubbing with a beak.
Hens do these activities for their survival and ancestors of chickens also had the habit of beak wiping.
For knowing details, I have tried to give reliable information so that you can understand.
In this post, I have shared some notes that you should know to find the actual reasons.
Why Do Chickens (Birds) Rub or Wipe Their Beaks on the Ground
When you see backyard chicken flocks start whipping their beaks, you may think the characteristic of chicken is a mystery.
But when you know the reasons, you will get the answers. Though the sight of the chicken is good, some raising chickens can’t pick grain and oyster shells from the ground due to overgrown beaks.
Poor chicken’s beaks and scissor beak (crossed beak) may also disturb. Poultry birds don’t have teeth. So sharp beaks are important for them.
Now, I am telling you some common reasons for wiping or rubbing the beak. They are:
As a normal rule, chickens want to sharpen the edges and different shapes of the beaks anyhow and there is also a reason for that.
Keratin and blood are contained in the chicken beak and keratin in the toenails. If you want to know more read the chicken beak anatomy.
That is why it is a hard organ of the chicken. You know that they eat mites, insects and other small sizes of food like grains and you may call them omnivores.
Because they can eat almost all types of food from pasture. This is the reason why they need to collect and grab these small sizes of food with their beaks.
Hens or roosters scratch the ground to search for insects. If the beak is not sharp enough to sharpen or has a beak injury, the hen can’t peck the ground to create holes for finding the insects.
When the beak is sharp enough, this hen also gets facility while eating scratch grains from the feeder (keeping chicken’s layer feed).
They use their beaks to drink water from the waterer for their survival. Besides, sometimes, chickens are pecking at each other and sometimes chicken comb got injured from this fighting.
That is also the reason for keeping their beaks sharp. Besides, a sharp beak may also be the reason to stop egg production. So poultry farmers apply beak trimming in that situation.
You may build up chicken manure with straw on the living floor of poultry birds so that they can’t rub their beaks on the hard ground floor.
The beak increases slowly like our finger’s nails. We need to cut the nails to keep the tips of our fingers perfectly sized.
On the other hand, hens also need to sharpen or file their beaks regularly for keeping beaks in better shape, because beak shaping is important.
They always maintain the size and shape of the beaks by rubbing them on the surface or ground. If any adjustment of the beak is needed, the chicken also maintains it by wiping.
The other reason is that they want to keep their beaks neat and clean. So they rub it on our cloth, napkin, soil, grass, etc so that any dirty elements and food can’t be present in the beaks.
You may notice that poultry birds rub their lips after eating anything. For cleaning purposes, they do this activity.
We the people use paper or water to clean our mouths after eating any food. But they don’t have hands and they use ground or cloth to clean their lips.
If they don’t clear dirty substances from their beaks, different types of dangerous diseases (E. coli and other diseases) may create.
That is why they are serious about removing dirty things from their mouth and lips. You should also separate infected birds in that situation.
According to the experiment of Danielle Whittaker who is at Missouri State University, chickens rub their beaks to release scent or smell for attracting their mates.
The rooster should mate with the hen for egg fertilization. When they rub their lips on the ground, some scents are mixed into that soil.
After that other mates find that scent from the place and understand that their mates are trying to contact them.
Sometimes, roosters may spread scent to the ground for finding hens and that rooster may offer good food to the hens.
Broody hens, laying hens, raising hens, and roosters rub their lips on the ground to spread a special scent (preen oil) for gathering with each other.
N.B: Birds spread or transfer the preen oil from the uropygial gland by rubbing their beaks. (source)
Why Do Chickens (Birds) Rub Their Beaks On You
When you enjoy the cold season by drinking a cup of tea, suddenly a chicken starts to rub its beak on your clothes.
You are also enjoying this rubbing activity of that chicken. But do you try to understand what that chicken wants to say to you?
If you notice deeply, you will understand that that chicken wants help from you because the area of that place is freezing.
Sometimes, chickens try to contact you for help by doing this rubbing activity. Besides, they also wipe for cleaning and sharpening their beaks on your clothing.
N.B: If you are interested to know about the question: Do chickens have periods?, you can read this article.
How to Understand If Your Chickens are Happy or Not
If you provide nutritional food regularly and apply enough security to the chicken, there may be no issue about excess cold weather at that time.
You will get a positive environment in that chicken place. Still, they rub their beaks on you, it seems that they are happy at that moment. This is also a sign of showing affection to you.
Some actions of the happy chickens are given below:
- Dust bathing of the chickens, egg-laying on the sand and enjoying the sunlight are the actions of the pleased chickens and sometimes, they need light or heater. They may play with each other at that time and they also run here and there spontaneously. After birdbath, they may rub their lips.
- Healthy and bright feathers are also a good sign for healthy chickens. You should take care, If they have low weight.
N.B: when you remove feather by using a plucker machine, the brightness may not exist.
- Happy chickens are roaming all the time. They are active all day time and they also look strong and productive. When you provide food, they come to you quickly and happily. This means they accept you positively.
Some Other Normal Chicken Behavior
There are some more chicken behaviors or roles seen most of the time.
1. The Social System of Pecking Orders
Peaking orders is a chicken’s social rule where they are divided into different ranks. Normally old and most mature chickens apply these pecking orders to others.
Normally they go to the upper rank automatically, when their age increases. Some chickens can go to the upper rank of the peaking orders by challenging.
2. Grooming of Chickens
Preening is one kind of grooming of chickens. Chicken preening or itching is also important for them to keep their feathers well organized or properly placed.
Sometimes feather pecking is seen between poultry birds. If the feathers remain disheveled, they don’t look good. That is why the grooming of chickens is important. They do this by using their beaks by applying oils and this is called preening. They have oil glands and they use this oil for their feathers. (source)
There is also another reason for preening. If the feathers remain disheveled, these feathers will not be waterproof.
That is why they like preening for waterproofing their body. Sometimes new feathers (pin feathers) are grown in the chicken’s body. This is why preening is important for all poultry birds.
Finally, I will say something that you may require. If you are a starter in the poultry business or you have poultry birds in your house, you should know all the characteristics of chickens and other poultry birds.
The poultry birds who live in the coop all the time are called confined chickens. This type of fact will help you to take care of them.
Besides, you should also know more about other habits, and the basic lifestyle of different poultry birds.
That is why you need to learn more about them. For this reason, I have shared some common habits of chickens in this post.
You should read the total post for knowing the chicken’s specific habit (rubbing the beaks).
Here, I have described common reasons why chickens peak? After reading that topic, you will know why they show this type of activity.
You will also get the answer to this question: is rubbing lips mandatory for them?
In this post, I have also shared some notes about the signs of a chicken’s happiness. This activity is natural and other animals like cats also sharpen their claws too.
Trimming the lower and upper beaks is also important and most poultry farmers do this activity.
So this system is known as the world farming procedure. I think you should know these important notes for taking care of them spontaneously.
Always collect the contact number of the local vet so that you can get help urgently when any of your chickens get sick.
You should focus on this issue, because if one chicken has the sickness, then automatically other chickens will become affected soon.
After reading all this information, I think, you have ended your curiosity.
Finally, I will say that you should read the questions and answers for learning more information about this type of habit.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Question)
Why Do the Chickens Rub Their Beaks on Things?
Poultry birds, especially chickens rub their beaks on cloth, human body, soil, sand, hard things. They have many reasons for doing it (i have already mentioned in this post).
Specially, when birds of prey, starlings, finch need to sharpen their beaks, they use hard things (objects) like tree branches.
Do Birds or Chickens Like Their Beaks Wipe or Rubbed?
They need to do this habit as their essential task. To pick up food and other important work, they directly need their clicking beaks.
So whipping and rubbing are their essential works and it may act like a cologne spritzer too.
Some poultry birds (canary birds, parrots, wild birds and other pecking birds) often rub their lips on perches near the nest.
How Do the Chickens Show Affection to Humans (Poultry or Chicken Owners)?
There are some signs those you need to know for understanding that they likes you:
- They want to stay your lap.
- Wants to stay with chicken keeper.
- Wants to groom you (touches with their tail feathers).
- Some chickens may lay eggs in your lap.
- Rub their beaks on your legs.
- Sometimes they may follow you for specific reasons.
- Show some activity in the ground to gain human Interaction.
Why Do Hummingbirds and Other Flying Birds Rub Their Beaks?
Hummingbirds need to rub their beaks to clean. Because after eating all day, some debris is attached to the beaks. This is why hummingbirds and other birds need to clean this type of debris immediately.
They have no option but to show affection to humans with their beaks. But baby chicks, chickens and other poultry birds have the option to show affection to humans.
What Does It Mean, When the Chickens Have Their Beaks Open All Time?
Backyard chickens breathe all the time through their nostrils. This is a normal and common activity.
If you see that any poultry bird opens their mouth for a long time, it seems that there is a problem.
When they have problems breathing through the nostrils, they open their lips for breathing. In that situation, they may have respiratory or other problems. That is why you should contact your local poultry vet immediately.
Why Do Chickens Scratch Their Heads Regularly?
When some hens are affected by parasites (for example lice), they scratch their body and heads regularly. They may start a sand bath to remove the parasites.
When you see that all the time your poultry birds scratch their body, you should take advice from the poultry vet.
What Foods Can Chickens Not Eat?
They can’t eat moldy (not fresh) food. Besides, you should not allow them to eat avocado, potato skin, apple seeds, chocolate, etc.
Where are the Chickens or Poultry Birds Native To?
Early, they are found in the region of the jungle, southeast Asia and southwest China.
Why Do Some of Your Chickens Rub Their Heads On Me?
This is not a story and it is a sign to show affection to you. Normally they don’t do it and they use their beaks for rubbing. If they extremely like you, then they may directly rub their heads on your body.