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35 Essential Chicken Terms You Need To Know

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.

Knowing the correct terms for certain things is like knowing the landmarks on a map to help you find your destination.

You can ask for advice more efficiently when you know how to correctly identify what you need help with.

chicken terms you need to know

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.

Check out my post on the 7 things you need BEFORE you butcher chickens.

4. Brooder (box)

A heated enclosure for raising chicks within a hen.

Also check out my post on what you need BEFORE you get baby chicks.

mama hen brooding in a nesting box

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. (Check out my post on 12 adorable baby chicks)

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.

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.

baby chicken terms

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.

chickens in a coop

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.

For the DIY-er’s, check out my post on building a water catchment automatic chicken waterer.

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.

chicken terms

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.

Check out my posts for individual chicken breeds:

23. Laying Feed

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

Check out my post on 13 creative ways to save money on your chicken feed.

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.

four chickens lined up together

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.

Check out this post on 5 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Warm This Winter.

close up on a rooster's face with wattles and comb

35. Wattles

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


Thursday 30th of May 2019

Some of these terms are not new to me, but I had to admit this is good, informative list for anybody who want to specialize in raising chickens.