How to speak chicken

How to Speak Chicken

A commitment to raising chickens begins with the basics.

Every new or prospective chicken owner should be familiar with some terms that can help guide your adventure into raising chickens.

  • Bantam: A smaller breed of chicken, often called a Banty, weighing between 1 and 2.5 pounds.
  • Biddy: Another word for baby chickens or hens.
  • Boiler: A chicken 6 to 9 months of age.
  • Broiler: A cockerel up to 3 pounds between 8 and 12 weeks of age.
  • Brooder: A heated tank or box used to raise chicks.
  • Brooding period: This is the period of time from hatch to adulthood in chicks.
  • Broody Hen: A hen that wants to lay on her eggs and hatch chicks who can often be moody and protective of her eggs.
  • Buttercup Comb: Resembling a crown with several points, this comb splays in an oval pattern from the beak to the chicken’s head.
  • Chick: A just-hatched chicken or a very young chicken.
  • Cloaca or Vent: The chamber in chickens where the excretory and reproductive tracts meet and empty.
  • Coccidiosis: A disease in chickens caused by a microscopic protozoon. It can cause diarrhea and even death. Coccidiosis is transmitted by chicken waste and can be prevented by vaccination or medicated food and clean housing conditions.
  • Cockerel: A male chicken under one year of age.
  • Comb: The red-colored growth on top of a chicken's head.
  • Coop: A house or enclosure built for chickens to live in.
  • Cushion Comb: A house or enclosure built for chickens to live in.
  • Down: The soft, fine feathers on baby chicks before their feathers come in.
  • Dusting or Dust Bath: The rolling in dust by chickens to remove mites and parasites from their bodies
  • Feather Picking: A harmful behavior of chickens pulling or pecking the feathers of other chickens. It begins when a member or the flock is stressed or having nutrition problems, or with an aggressive chicken.
  • Fledge: The care of young birds while they’re still in the nest.
  • Fryer: A chicken up to 4 pounds between 12 and 14 weeks old.
  • Gizzard: The chicken organ that crushes food with the aid of grit or pebbles.
  • Grit: Crushed stone or sand used by chickens to help break down their food (they don’t have teeth).
  • Hackles:: The long feathers along the neck of a chicken.
  • Hen: An adult female chicken over one year of age.
  • Layers (or Laying Hens): Mature female chickens kept for the purpose of laying eggs.
  • Molt: When the shedding of feathers and the growing of new ones takes place.
  • Nest Box: A box specifically designed for hens to lay eggs in a separate space from other chickens.
  • Nest Egg: A fake egg, usually made of china or wood, placed in a nest to encourage laying.
  • Oviduct: The tube through which an egg passes.
  • Pasting: Condition when a chicken’s excretions get stuck in their down and clog their vent.
  • Pea Comb: A comb featuring three ridges aligned lengthwise from the top of the beak to the top of the head. The name comes from the appearance of the comb resembling the row of peas in an open pea pod.
  • Pecking Order: The hierarchy of status in a flock of chickens.
  • Picking: Activity of chickens picking at each other's feathers which can be caused by boredom or close quarters.
  • Pullet: A female chicken under one year of age.
  • Rooster: An adult male chicken.
  • Run: An outdoor enclosure for chickens which is usually attached to the coop.
  • Scratch: A type of feed that consists of a variety of types of whole grains and cracked corn. It is generally cast as a treat for backyard chickens and not a main food source.
  • Setter (vs. Non-Setter): A Setter is a hen with a strong desire to incubate eggs. A Non-Setter is a hen with little or no desire to incubate eggs.
  • Single Comb: A thin comb with 5 to 6 distinct points.
  • Spraddle: A condition in which a chick’s legs are splayed apart making it hard or impossible to stand.
  • Spur: The horn or solid projection on the rear of a chicken shank, or leg, found most prominently on males. It is used for defense.
  • Straight run: Chicks that have not been sexed.
  • Starter Feed: Commercial feed for chicks for the first six to eight weeks of life, available in medicated and non-medicated formulas.
  • Strawberry Comb: A flat and compact comb with no distinct points, resembling a strawberry.
  • Wattle: The thin strands of red flesh located on each side of the throat or beak. They’re larger in males.