Freshen Up on Chicken Terminology

Feb 08, 2021

By Sherry KlausMannaPro 

If you are just getting started raising chickens, you might be coming across numerous terms and jargon with which you are unfamiliar. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! See below for a great list of common chicken terms and their definitions.
Chicken Development
Term Definition
Chick Newly hatched chicken
Cockerel Male that is under a year old
Pullet Female that is under a year old
Juvenile A young male or female bird
Cock Male that is a year or older
Hen Female that is a year or older
Rooster A male chicken (includes cock and cockerel)
Bantam Refers to small breeds of chicken (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 regrowth
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, the condition causes them to twist their neck, stare upwards, and have trouble standing and is 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 chick’s 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 chicken’s head
Vent An opening in chickens where waste and eggs are expelled
Crest The feathers protruding from the top of a chicken’s head
Stop by your local Co-op for all your poultry needs! Find your nearest local Co-op here.

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