Basic Chicken Terms and Anatomy

If you’re new to raising chickens here are the most frequently used terms by chicken keepers everywhere. I hope it helps you better understand and care for your birds.
Bantam:  Diminutive breed of domestic fowl.
Boiler:  Chicken 6 to 9 months old.
Broiler:  Cockerel of 2 to 3 pounds at 8 to 12 weeks old.
Cock:  Male chicken, or rooster.
Cockerel:  Young rooster under 1 year old.


Fryer:  Chicken 3 to 4 pounds at 12 to 14 weeks old.
Hen:  Female chicken.
Point of Lay Pullet:  Young female chicken just about to lay, about 5 months old.
Pullet:  Young female chicken under 1 year old.
Roaster:  Chicken 4 to 6 pounds and over 12 to 14 weeks old.

Rooster:  Male chicken, also called a cock.
Sexed Chicks:  Separated by sex, pullets and cockerels.
Straight Run:  Mix of pullets and cockerels.
Broody:  When the hen has an urge to sit on her eggs to try and hatch them.
Clutch:  Batch of eggs in a nest.

Comb: Red muscle on the head of chickens.
Coop:  Place where your poultry live is referred to as a poultry coop.
Crest:  Bunch of feathers on the head of certain breeds.
Crop:  Pre-digestive system of the chicken. Food collects at the base of the neck and is softened before going through the digestion process.
Cushion:  Area of the back in front of the tail on the female chicken.

Down:  Soft fine feathers on chicks.
Droppings:  Chicken manure.
Dust bath: To bathe in dry dust or sand, and it helps remove any mites from their feathers.
Flight feathers:  Biggest primary feathers on the final half of the wing.
Free range: To allow chickens to roam pasture freely.

Frizzle:  Feathers that curl rather than laying flat also a breed of chicken.
Gizzard:  Internal organ of the chicken that collects grit and grinds food down.
Grit: A grinding agent used in digestion, added to a chickens diet if not allowed to free range.
Growers:  Growing chickens between 9 and 20 weeks.
Hackles:  Cape feathers of a rooster.

Hybrid:  Genetically bred from two different breeds of chicken for good characteristics from both.
Impaction:  Blockage of a body passage or cavity, such as the crop.
Keel:  Breast bone – which resembles the keel of a boat.
Layers:  Mature female chickens kept for egg production.
Mash:  Mixture of wet or dry coarse ground feed.

Moult:  Yearly shedding and replacement of poultry feathers.
Muff:  Feathers sticking out from both sides of the face under the beak of certain breeds such as Ameraucana.
Nest Box:  Secluded safe place where a hen feels she can leave her eggs.
Nest Egg:  Wooden or plastic egg put in the nest box to encourage hens to lay there.
Pecking order:  Social ranking of a flock.

Pellets:  Poultry pellets are formed from a fine mash bonded together.
Poultry:  Domestic fowls, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, or geese, raised for meat or eggs.
Pure breed:  Not been crossed with another chicken breed is known as a pure bred.
Saddle:  Area of the back in front of the tail on the male.
Spurs:  Protrusions on the legs of roosters.

Utility:  Bred for meat or chickens bred for eggs rather than poultry shows.
Vent:  Orifice at the rear end of the chicken through which both eggs and feces are passed.
Wattles:  Fleshy appendages hanging either side of the lower beak of poultry.

Diagram of a chicken 1