35 Essential Chicken Terms You Need To Know

Posted July 10, 2017 by Lauren Dibble in Animals / 0 Comments

how many eggs will a chicken lay

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essential chicken terms

If you’re like me and just getting started in your chicken loving adventures, it’s important to know some essential chicken terms. Before we walk the walk, we need to learn how to talk the talk.

Here are the top 35 essential chicken terms you need to know to get started:


A petite breed, about ¼ of the size of a regular chicken.


Another term for chick or baby chicken.

3. Broiler

A chicken bred for its meat. Usually broilers are processed between 9-12 weeks and weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.

4. Brooder (box)

A heated enclosure for raising chicks within a hen.

5. Brooding Period

The adolescent stage of life of a chicken, usually includes the first 10 weeks of life.

6. Broody

When a hen wants to sit on eggs to hatch them.

7. Chick

A baby chicken

8. Chick Tooth

The sharpened end of a chicken’s beak that helps them poke through the egg’s shell when they hatch.

9. Cloaca

The opening on the backside of a chicken from which waste and eggs are produced.

chicken terms

10. Clutch

Term used to describe a bunch of eggs. It is often used to describe eggs being sat on by a brooding hen, or simply a set of around 12 eggs.

11. Coccidiosis

A parasite that damages the walls of the intestines of chickens. Causes diarrhea, weight loss and death. Occurs most in young adults.

12. Cock

Another name for a rooster. An adult male chicken over one year of age.

13. Cockerel

A young rooster under one year.

14. Comb

Fleshy growth or crest at the top of the head.

15. CRD

CRD stands for chronic respiratory disease. Symptoms include sneezing and difficulty breathing.

16. Down

Soft, fine feathers of chicks.

17. Dusting or Dust Bath

Common behavior of chickens where they roll in dirt or provided dust bath to treat or prevent mites/parasites. In fact, my post on 12 Uses for Wood Ash Around the Homestead, I mention how chickens love dusting in ash.

18. Fount

A water fountain or watering device.

19. Gizzard

Internet digestive organ filled with pebbles or grit that helps a chicken crush their food.


20. Hen

A female chicken over a year of age.

21. Incubator

A heated enclosed structure that is designed for hatching eggs. Temperatures range from 99 to 103 degrees Farenheit to simulate a mother hen sitting on her eggs.

22. Layers

Female chickens kept for the purpose of producing eggs.

23. Laying Feed

Chicken feed formulated to support the nutritional needs of laying hens.

24. Marek’s Disease

25. Newcastle Disease

26. Picking

Bad behavior where a chicken picks out the feathers of other chickens.

27. Pipping

The act of chicks pecking at their shells to break out.

28. Pullet

A young female chicken – under one year.

29. Rooster

An adult male chicken.


30. Scratch

A type of feed comprised of whole or cracked grains. Chickens scratch at the ground naturally to expose seeds and bugs to eat. This time of feed encourages this behavior.

31. Starter Feed

A pre-mixed feed for chicks, designed to be fed to chicks for the first six-eight weeks of life.

32. Straight-Run Chicks

Hatched chicks whose sex has not been identified yet.

33. Turn

Incubated eggs need to be turned routinely to prevent the embryos from sticking to the shell membranes.

34. Unthrifty

A general term used to describe a chicken who is in general poor health, or failing to thrive.

35. Wattles

The fleshy growths that hang beneath a chicken’s beak.

35 essential chicken terms

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