Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Glossary of Terms Related to Chicken

Have you heard of the mute? Where does the phrase “pecking order” come from? As the popularity of chicken farming continues to grow, many new terms have been introduced into the vernacular, but for those who are new to raising poultry or are considering acquiring their first chicks, the language can sometimes be confusing.

Many of the terms used in chicken rearing are obvious or easy to understand when used in context, but a glossary of terms is helpful when trying to learn more about this popular hobby or at least answer questions from your curious neighbors.

We invite you to review the glossary of poultry terms prepared by Some may sound familiar, but learning these terms will make even new hen keepers sound like experts in no time.wyandottes

Here are the essential chicken terms you need to know to get started:

Types of chicken

  • Chick: Also known as sisiw in Tagalog, it is a newborn, newly hatched chicken.
  • Pullet: a young hen who has not yet laid eggs, basically a teenager.
  • Cockerel: A young male chicken.
  • Hen: A female chicken that has already started laying eggs.
  • Broiler chicken: A chicken raised for its meat. Broilers are typically processed between 9 and 12 weeks and weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.
  • Bantam: Adorable mini chickens, about half the size of normal or smaller chickens!
  • Dual purpose: Hens that are suitable for the production of both eggs and meat.
  • Sexing: newborn chicks that have been classified into chicks and roosters. Day-old chick sexing is approximately 90% accurate.
    Light Sussex breed of chicken

Chicken anatomy terms

  • Feathers: A chicken’s feathers are the soft covering of its body. Each feather consists of a large number of smooth chins and whiskers on each side.
  • Crest: It is the meaty part of the chicken generally red that is in the upper part of the chicken’s beak, they come in many shapes and sizes.
  • Crop: a part of the esophagus of a chicken where food is stored before digesting it, a kind of the first stomach.
  • Cloaca: the omnidirectional hole through which the hen’s eggs and waste exit
  • Gizzard: a tough, muscular stomach that grinds up chicken food.
  • Egg tooth: the sharp end of a chick’s beak that is used to break the shell of the egg during the hatch.
  • Spur: The claw on the back of a rooster’s foot that can cause harm to any person or animal that gets in its way if the rooster is aggressive.

Chicken health and diseases

  • Mites – Blood-sucking insects that live in your chicken coop and feast on your chickens at night. Miniature vampires.
  • Lice – Tiny straw-colored ectoparasites that live on chickens and feast on their meat.
  • Coccidiosis – unpleasant parasites of the digestive tract. This disease prevents your birds from absorbing nutrients normally.
  • Marek’s Disease – Contagious virus that causes strange symptoms in birds such as color-changing eyes, paralysis, and lesions.
  • Electrolytes: a mixture that is added to chicken water to combat the heat and/or stress.
  • Bumblefoot – An infection on the underside of the chicken leg.
  • Dust bath: when a chicken is covered with dirt to help get rid of mites or to cool off on hot days.
  • Molt: when a chicken sheds its feathers (usually occurs once a year, but can also be related to stress).
  • Quarantine: The action of keeping chickens with an infection separate for a specified period. Do this if they are sick or new to the herd.
  • Newcastle disease: highly contagious poultry virus that can be transmitted to humans
  • Diatomaceous Earth – A fine chalk-like powder made from fossils. It is a natural and safe treatment for internal and external parasites in chickens.
  • Cannibalism: A bad habit that can occur in chickens of all ages. Includes feather plucking; head, wing, bowel, and puncture injuries. Egg eating is also a type of cannibalism that causes injuries due to infighting between your birds.
  • Biosecurity: The measures taken to protect our chicks, our staff, and their flocks from contracting and spreading harmful poultry diseases.

Eggs and their characteristics

  • Eggs: a product of the hen’s ovulation that is not lacking in morning breakfasts. Hens lay eggs almost daily, regardless of whether or not they lay in the mating sense.
  • Colored eggs: There are a variety of chicken breeds that lay different colored eggs. Chickens can lay brown, white, cream, green, tan, blue, and even pink eggs.
  • Flowering: the protective, moist layer of a freshly laid egg that dries so quickly that it is seldom seen; also called the cuticle.

Terms used in the chicken coop:

  • Chicken coop: the place where chickens eat, sleep, and defecate. Take a look at our article with chicken coop ideas.
  • Coat rack: a horizontal bar usually within the chicken coop that chickens perch on, such as a tree branch, or a peg.
  • Nest box: a small box inside a hen house where the hens go to lay their eggs daily.
  • Feeder: the place where hens’ food is left so that they can eat it without spreading it on the ground.
  • Fountain or drinking fountain: what dispenses water to your chickens.
  • Chips – small pieces of wood, a by-product of the lumber industry that they sell to us so kindly so that our chickens don’t get their legs too dirty in the hen house.


  • Sand: small pieces of stone that chickens swallow to help them digest their food in their gizzards.
  • Oyster shell: food that chickens eat if they need more calcium in their diet.
  • Calcium: an essential mineral for the feeding of laying hens.
  • Balanced feed: A term that is applied to the ration or feed that contains all the known essential nutrients in adequate proportions for the correct nutrition of the hens.
  • Layer feed: Feed specifically formulated for hens that are of egg-laying age (usually 6 months), so make sure they get all the necessary nutrients.
  • Organic Chicken Feed (Certified) – Specially formulated chicken feed that adheres to USDA standards and does not contain GMOs, animal by-products, antibiotics, fertilizers, etc.
  • Crumbs – a form that chicken feed comes in, usually 90% powder and 10% feed. Chickens love to throw it at everyone.
  • Starter food: food specially formulated for chicks and adolescent chickens that need a lot of energy to develop these little bodies.

Hens and incubators

  • Brood: A state in which a hen remains sitting on the eggs to promote hatching.
  • Incubator: A heated enclosed space where the chicks are kept for the first few weeks of their life while their feathers grow (until then they cannot stay warm without a mother hen).
  • Layer – breeds of chickens that lay a large number of eggs consistently. It is often used in egg farms.
  • Clutch: a set of eggs found together in the nest.
  • Heritage Breeds – Chickens that pass the guidelines set by the American Poultry Association, which generally helps to ensure that they have not been bred to slow their growth or egg production, but are birds of breeds recognized for their history, seniority, pedigree, etc.

Chicken behavior terms:

  • Free-range: Term used for chickens that are allowed to spend time every day outside of their confined space.
  • Hierarchical order: the instinctive social order of a flock of chickens in which each chicken establishes itself and knows its place within the flock.

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