Chicken Terms for Beginners

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One of the challenges in beginning a new adventure is learning how to speak the language.  Wondering the difference between a pullet and a hen?  What the heck is a crop?  Scroll down to learn Chicken Terms for Beginners for terms all new chicken owners should be familiar with!

Bantam: A bantam is a “mini” chicken, often the smaller version of a standard breed, these chickens can be 1/4-1/2 the size of a standard chicken.

Brooder Box: A box with a heat lamp used for raising baby chicks for the first several weeks of their life


our brooder box is a Rubbermaid bin with a wire paneled lid

Broody Hen: A hen that has decided it’s time to hatch a clutch of eggs.  Kind of like a moody teenager, she will sit in her box nearly 24 hours a day, leaving only to relieve herself & eat (even if you keep collecting the eggs from under her and she is sitting on an empty nest).  You can use a broody hen to hatch fertilized eggs.


We used our broody Buff Orpington to hatch a clutch of eggs, it was amazing!

Chick: A newly hatched or very young chicken, generally until the time they are fully feathered out (about 6 weeks old)


Silver Laced Polish chick

Clutch: A group of eggs together in one nest


clutch of chicken eggs 

Cock (or Rooster): a male chicken that is at least 1 year old


a gorgeous full grown adult rooster


Cockerel: a male chicken that is under 1 year old

young rooster

a beautiful young, male chicken

Comb: a fleshy growth on top of the chicken’s head.  The comb is generally red (but not always) and is larger in males than in females.  Combs come in dozens of shapes and sizes from a tiny pea comb to larger combs like the walnut, rose or cup comb

rooster comb

combs come in dozens of shapes and sizes

Coop: an enclosed house where the chickens live, they often have an attached, wire enclosed chicken run – but not always


a chicken coop without an attached run

Crop: part of the chicken’s digestive system, located at the base of the neck.  It stores ingested, but undigested food


chicken crop

Dust Bathing: a common chicken behavior of “bathing” in dust in a shallow hole, it helps to keep away mites & other parasites

Gizzard: internal chicken organ that crushes food with the help of small pebbles and grit


chicken gizzard

Grit: Bits of rock, shell or sand that chickens use to break down food



Hen: A female chicken that is over 1 year old


our Easter Egger hen

Molt: A time when the shedding and growing of new feathers takes place


Our Barred Rock hen in the middle of a pretty heavy molt

Nest Box: A box designed for hens to lay their eggs in, it could be made of wood, a plastic bucket, a large bin, any number of items


they don’t even mind sharing!

Pullet: A female chicken that is under 1 year old


our Silkie Pullet

Roost: A perch used by the chickens where they can rest off the ground. Can be made of a branch or thin piece of wood.


an outdoor roost is a nice place for a mid day snuggle

Scratch: A type of feed that contains cracked corn and whole grains, used as a treat, not a main source of feed


chicken scratch can be a great treat for winter time when they need more energy

Vent: The backside of the chicken where wasted is eliminated and eggs are laid

Wattle: Thin strips of flesh that are located on either side of the throat or beak.  They are typically red (but not always) and larger in males.

preventing frostbite in your flock

check out the beautiful wattle on this guy!

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