Chicken Terminology 101

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If you are just getting started raising chickens you might be coming across numerous terms and jargon that you are unfamiliar with. Don't worry, we have you covered! See below for a great list of common chicken terms and their definitions. Feel free to click on the button at the bottom to download a copy to keep handy!

Chicken Development

Term:

Definition: 

Chick

Newly Hatched Chicken

Cockerel

Male that is under a year old

Pullet

Female under a year old

Juvenile

A young male or female bird

Cock

Male that is a year or older

Hen

Female a year or older

Rooster

A male chicken (includes Cock and Cockerel)

Bantam

Refers to small breeds of chickens (AKA Miniature Chicken)

Layer Breed

Breed of chicken that is raised primarily for egg collection

Dual Purpose Breed

Breed of chicken that is raised for both eggs and meat

Ornamental Breed

Breed of chicken that is raised primarily for show or exhibition

Production Breed

Breed of chicken that is raised for high egg production or meat production

Chicken Environment

Term:

Definition: 

Nesting Box

A cubicle where a chicken can privately lay eggs

Bedding/Litter

A material used to cover the floor/ground in confined spaces

Hardware Cloth

A sturdy mesh product made of metal or plastic used generally on the coop to keep them contained

Chicken Wire

Light wire netting with a hexagonal mesh

Brooder

A type of heated enclosure for raising chicks

Roosting

A chicken or group of chickens resting, likely on an elevated perch 

Chicken Tractor

A movable chicken coop lacking a floor allowing flock access to the earth beneath them

Coop

An enclosure where chickens are kept safe and secure

Run

A fenced or enclosed outdoor space for your chickens

Feather Types/Terms

Term: 

Definition: 
Molting Loss of feathers due to change in season followed by re-growth

Frizzle

A genetically programmed ornamental feather type causing the curling of feathers

Down

Fine layer of feathers that covers young birds and is found under the tough exterior feathers of older birds

Muff

Short feathers on the sides of a chicken's face and below the chin area

Saddle

Feathers in front of the tail

Sickle

The pair of long curving feathers on a cock's tail

Beard

The elongated feathers below the beak area that created a puffy look to some birds

Pin

A developing feather seen on maturing birds as well as after molt

Chicken Health

Term: 

Definition:

Wry Neck

Typically seen in chicks causing them to twist their neck, stare upwards and have trouble standing likely caused by a Vitamin E or selenium deficiency

Amprolium

Medication used as an aid to prevent and treat coccidiosis and can be found in some medicated chick feeds

Mites

Bugs that live on the skin of chickens

Poultry Lice

Insects that live only on chickens and their feathers

Dust Bath

Bathing in dirt or other substances to help remove external parasites and groom plumage

Coccidiosis

Intestinal disease that occurs when a microscopic parasitic organism attaches itself to the intestinal lining

Avian Influenza

A naturally occurring virus that effects chickens and other species of poultry

Fowl Pox

Viral disease in chickens and other species of poultry that causes lesions on skin (cutaneous form) and can affect respiratory tract and upper GI (diphtheritic form)

Newcastle Disease

An extremely contagious disease affecting birds, including domestic poultry

Salmonella

Intestinal bacteria that is typically heard about when discussing food poisoning

Bumblefoot

A bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction on the feet of birds

Pasty Butt

Describes the condition that occurs when a chicks vent is covered in feces and becomes clogged

Chicken Feed Types

Term: 

Definition: 

Starter Grower Feed

A feed formulated for growing chicks up to laying age or 16 weeks for hens

Layer Feed

A feed formulated for hens at laying age to support healthy and strong egg production

All Flock Feed

A feed specifically formulated for mixed flocks of poultry

Gamebird Showbird Feed

A feed with higher protein for to promote growth in gamebirds, showbirds and meatbirds

Scratch

Blended and whole unfortified grains that commonly includes corn

Grit

Crushed rock that helps break down food in the gizzard

Chicken Anatomy 

Term: 

Definition: 

Wattle

Flesh under the beak of a chicken that is used as a heat regulating mechanism

Crop

Part of the digestive system on chickens that stores food before continuing on to be fully digested

Cloaca

An all-in-one urinating, defecating and mating mechanism located on the hind end of the chicken

Spurs

A sharp appendage that can grow on the legs of chickens

Comb

A featherless crest at the top of a chickens head

Vent

An opening in chickens where waste and eggs are expelled

Crest

The feathers protruding from the top of a chickens head

Chicken Reproduction 

Term:

Definition: 

Broody

A chicken that has decided to sit on and hatch a clutch of eggs

Bloom

A thin coating that covers an egg and prevents bacteria from effecting the egg

Candle

Shining a light on the backside of an egg to examine its contents

Internal Pip

During the hatching process, when the chick breaches the membrane into the aircell of the egg, it is called the internal pip

External Pip

During the hatching process, the chick's first small crack or hole in the shell is called the external pip

Clutch

A group of 12 to 15 eggs gathered for hatching

Blastoderm

A small white bullseye on the egg yolk indicating a fertile egg

Blastodisc

A small white disc on the egg yolk indicating an infertile egg

Incubator

A machine that maintains the perfect temperatures to hatch an egg

Click to Download PDF Version

Sherry Klaus

Sherry Klaus

Hi, my name is Sherry. I am a mother, wife, business owner and have a small farm in East Central Missouri. I have always had a passion for animals. I have horses, dogs, goats and chickens. I have a particular fondness for chickens. Chickens are entertaining, beautiful and I just find them to be all around wonderful creatures. I got into showing and breeding chickens shortly after rescuing my first rooster. I now breed and show both Silkies and Ameraucana (Paint, Self-Blue and Blue) chicken breeds. I now ship my birds all over the Country. My daughter shares my love of chickens and shows the Bantam Ameraucana breed. Other than my affinity for chickens, I also have many hobbies. I enjoy gardening, 4wheeling, fishing, horseback riding and playing with my adorable fainting goats. When I am not enjoying my animals I am helping my husband manage our Masonry business. It is a full life and it is just the way I like it.

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