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Chicken Terminology

Whether you have chickens or not, you can sound like you know what you're talking about with this list of common chicken terms. Get ready to impress your friends and family with your new found knowledge!

Bantam:
A small breed of chicken that’s generally one-fourth the size of a regular chicken
Broiler:
A chicken raised for meat
Brooder:
A heated, enclosed place where baby chicks are kept during the first weeks of their life while they’re growing their feathers (until then they can’t keep themselves warm)
Broody hen:
A hen that stops laying eggs when her ‘maternal’ instincts kick in. When this happens, she’ll sit on a clutch of eggs, waiting for them to hatch.
Cape:
The grouping of long feathers (hackles) on a chicken’s neck
Capon:
A male chicken that’s been castrated
Chicken run:
A fenced in portion of yard attached to the chicken coop where chickens can freely roam
Chick:
Baby chicken
Clutch:
A group of eggs that are laid together (often being sat on by a broody hen)
Cock:
An older male chicken
Cockerel:
An adolescent male chicken
Comb:
The red flap of fleshy ‘skin’ sticking up on top of a chicken’s head
Coop:
A house where chickens live
Crop:
A part of a chicken’s esophagus that stores food before it’s digested
Down:
The soft, fluffy feathers on a baby chick
Dust bath:
When a chicken covers themselves with dirt to help get rid of mites or to help cool themselves off on hot days
Egg tooth:
The sharp end of a chick’s beak that’s used to break out of the egg shell
Fledge:
To acquire or grow feathers
Fryer:
Another name for broiler, or chicken raised for meat
Gallus domesticus:
The fancy (scientific) name for domestic chickens
Grower feed:
Chicken food for adolescent chickens
Hackles:
The long feathers on a chicken’s neck
Hen:
A female chicken that is at least one year old
Incubator:
A heated device used for hatching eggs
Layer:
A chicken raised to lay eggs
Litter: 
The bedding material spread on the floor of a chicken house (i.e. wood shavings, straw)
Molt:
When a chicken sheds their feathers (usually happens once a year but can be stress related as well)
Pipping:
When a baby chick pecks out of their shell
Primaries:
The big, stiff feathers on the chicken’s wings that aid in flying
Pullet:
An adolescent female chicken
Roost:
A perch, pole or shelf generally 2 feet or more off the ground where chickens rest and sleep
Rooster:
An adult male chicken
Sexing:
When baby chicks are separated by gender
Spur:
The claw on the back of a rooster’s leg that can cause damage to anyone or anything that gets in the way if the rooster is aggressive
Starter feed:
Chicken food for chicks
Straight run chicks:
When baby chicks have not been separated by gender
Vent: 
The opening in the backside of a chicken where both waste is eliminated and eggs are laid
Wattle:
The red flap of fleshy ‘skin’ hanging down under a chicken’s beak

 

 

 

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