Chicken Terminology

Here is a list of chicken-related terms that might prove helpful when talking about your birds:

Bedding: material such as straw or pine shavings that is placed on the floor of the coop and in nest boxes. It absorbs moisture from poop and serves as nesting material for a hen to lay an egg in.
Cecal droppings: pasty, smooth, foul-smelling droppings

Chicken: a domesticated bird kept for eggs and meat. Refers to both male and female.

Cloaca: the place in a bird’s body where digestive and reproductive tracts join. Ends in the vent.

Comb: the fleshy, red thing on top of the head. The comb serves as a radiator, releasing excess heat.

Cock: rooster, a male chicken.

Cockerel: a male chicken less than a year old.

Coop: the protected, solid enclosure where chickens sleep and lay eggs.

Crop: a temporary food-storage pouch located at the base of a bird’s neck.

Grit: small stones that chickens will eat. Grit remains in a chicken’s gizzard, where it grinds whole grains (corn, wheat, etc.). If you have birds that are in confined housing who are fed whole grains, they need grit.
Hen: a female chicken that has begun to lay eggs.

Limestone: See oyster shell.

Meal worms: larvae of the darkling beetle. They are high in fat (13%). Feed occasionally as a treat.

Molt: to lose feathers. Chickens molt at 18 months of age and will do so once a year for the rest of their lives. They lose their feathers in a cyclical pattern, so they will not be completely featherless. During this time, they stop laying.

Nest box: box enclosed on 3 sides and the top where hens lay eggs; integral part of a coop.

Oyster shell: sources of calcium that hens ingest. Their bodies break down these sources and use them to shell and expel the egg.

Pullet: a young female chicken that is not yet laying eggs.

Roost: a thick rod or 2×4, raised off the floor, where chickens sleep at night

Run: the part of the coop that is enclosed in wire and does not have any flooring; the run allows birds to scratch in the dirt and spend time outside while protected from predators.

Scratch: chicken crack. This mixture of whole grains (corn, wheat, oats, barley, etc.) is not a complete diet should be given only as a treat, and not on a regular basis. It can also be given in small amounts in the winter time, right before bed, to keep the birds warm.

Spur: sharp growth on the leg of a rooster, used for fighting.

Vent: the opening through which reproductive and waste materials pass.

Wattle: the fleshy, red appendages under the beak. Like the comb, these act as heat radiators.

Any other helpful terms you’d like to see?

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lupita on September 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Cool! I did not know that “chicken” referred to both male and female.


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