Chicken Terminology

BANTAM: A small domestic chicken that is often a miniature version of a larger breed.

BIDDY: Another term for chicks or baby chickens.

BROILER: A meat chicken processed at the age of 7-12 weeks when it reaches 2.5 to 3.5 pounds live weight. Historically Broilers were marketed as birds ranging 1 to 2.5 lbs.

BROODER BOX: A temperature-controlled, heated box used for raising newly hatched poultry.

BROODY HEN: A hen that is intent on sitting on and hatching a clutch of eggs on a nest. Broody hens are often used to hatch eggs of other fowl.

CHICK: A newly hatched or very young chicken.

COCCIDIOSIS: An animal disease caused by infestation of the parasite Coccidia within the intestinal tract. Coccidiosis spreads from one chicken to another by contact with feces or ingestion of infected tissue.

COCK: A male chicken over one year of age.

COCKEREL: A male chicken less than 1 year old.

COMB: The fleshy growth or crest on the top of a chicken's head. Combs are usually larger on males than on females and are typically red.

COOP: An enclosure or housing structure built for chickens.

CRD: Chronic Respiratory Disease, a common disease of chickens that is characterized by sneezing and difficulty breathing. Commonly controlled with antibiotics usually administered in feed or drinking water.

CROP: Part of a chicken's digestive located at the base of the neck that serves to store ingested food.

DUSTING OR DUST BATH: Common chicken behavior of bathing with dust in a shallow depression to help rid themselves of mites and parasites.

FEATHER PICKING: Detrimental activity of chickens picking or pulling at each other's feathers that is often started from stress, aggression, or nutritional problems within a flock.

FOUNT: A water fountain or watering device for animals.

GRIT: Bits of rock, oyster shell or sand used by fowl to aid in breaking down ingested food.

HEN: A mature female chicken that is at least one year of age.

LAYERS: Mature female chickens kept for egg production. Also known as laying hens.

LAYING FEED: Commercially available feed formulated with extra calcium for laying hens.

LITTER: The bedding material spread on the floor of a chicken house (i.e. wood shavings, straw).

MAREK'S DISEASE: A viral disease common in chickens. Commonly prevented by a vaccination administered immediately after chicks hatch.

MOLT: Time when the shedding and growth of new feathers takes place.

NEST BOX: A box designed for hens to lay their eggs within.

NEWCASTLE DISEASE: A viral respiratory disease common in chickens. Newcastle disease can spread very quickly within a flock. Commonly prevented with a series of vaccinations.

NON-SETTER: Hens that have little or no desire to incubate eggs.

ORNAMENTAL BREED: A breed of chicken used for ornamental purposes and are primarily appreciated for their stunning appearance as opposed to egg or meat production.

PHOTOPERIOD: The interval in a 24-hour period in which a plant or animal is exposed to light.

PRODUCTION BREED: Are commercial strains of fowl that are used for high production of eggs or meat.

PULLET: A chicken less than 1 year old.

ROOSTER: A male chicken that is at least 1 year old.

ROOST: A perch typically inside a coop upon which fowl rest off of the ground.

RUN: An enclosed area outdoors that is connected to a coop and allows chickens to roam freely.

SCRATCH: A type of feed that can consist of cracked corn and different types of whole grains. It is often fed as a treat for backyard chickens and not used as a main food source.

STARTER FEED: Pre-mixed commercial food for chicks, commonly available at feed or farm stores. These feeds should be fed to chicks for the first six to twenty weeks of life. Typically available in medicated and non-medicated formulas.

STRAIGHT RUN: A term used to describe chicks for sale that have not been sexed. Groups of straight run chicks contain 50% of each gender on average, however odds of receiving 50/50 decrease with the fewer chicks you buy.

VENT: The opening in the backside of a chicken where both waste is eliminated and eggs are laid. It is also known as the cloaca.