Chickens and Ducks

Chicken Terms and Definitions

Interested in getting some chickens or ducks for your backyard or homestead? Of course you are, who wouldn’t be. Chickens are one of the easiest and cheapest animals to start out with and they provide you with delicious farm fresh eggs. Whether you are just starting the process or have been doing this for awhile you are going to hear a variety of terms. When just starting out this can get somewhat confusing, so I have provided you with a list of general terms and definitions to help you along your journey.

  • Bantam: A minuture chicken (usually about ¼ the size of a regular chicken)
  • Bedding: Straw, shavings, shredded paper or anything else spread on the floor of the chicken coop to absorb moisture and manure. Also need some kind of bedding in each nest box.
  • Broiler: Can also be known as a fryer chicken. A chicken bred and raised for its’ meat. Most are butchered anywhere from 6-12 weeks old and can weigh anywhere from 2.5-10 pounds, average is about 5 pounds.
  • Brooder or Brooder Box: A heated enclosure for raising chicks.
  • Broody Hen: A hen that wants to sit on eggs and hatch them. Broody hens will not lay eggs during this time.
  • Chick: A baby chicken
  • Clutch: A group of eggs. Term is most often used for a group of eggs being sat on by a hen or in an incubator.
  • Cock: A male chicken over 1 year of age
  • Cockerel: A male chicken under 1 year of age
  • Comb: Fleshy red colored skin on top of the chicken’s head
  • Coop: Any form of house/shed/shleter used to house chickens
  • Cull: To kill a non-productive or inferior chicken from a flock.
  • Dust Bath: Chicken laying and “bathing” in dirt to rid themselves of parasites
  • Droppings: Chicken poop
  • Flock: A group of chickens living together
  • Free Range: To allow chickens to roam freely in your yard or pasture
  • Hen: An adult female chicken over 1 year of age
  • Layers: Adult female chickens used for egg production. Can also be called laying hens
  • Layer Feed: Also know as layer pellet. This can come in pellet or crumble form. Chicken feed given to chickens from 6 weeks to death. Generally has 16%-18% protein and helps promote egg production.
  • Molt: Otherwise known as molting. Time when the shedding and growth of new feathers takes place. Chickens will not lay eggs while molting. Giving extra protein can help them through this process.
  • Nest Box: A box for hens to lay their eggs in
  • Production Breed: Commercial fowl that are bred for high production of meat or eggs
  • Pullet: Female chicken under 1 year of age
  • Rooster or Roo: Adult male chicken
  • Roost: Can also be called a perch. An elevated place chickens use to rest off the ground. Typically where chickens will sleep, good to have several inside the coop
  • Run: An outside pen or enclosure attached to the coop that chickens can use to roam around outside
  • Scratch: A treat that can consist of cracked corn and different types of whole grains usually thrown out in the pen or yard. Not used as a main food source.
  • Starter Feed: Feed specially sized and mixed for chicks. Usually contain about 20% protein. Can be medicated or non-medicated (ducks can NOT have medicated feed)
  • Straight Run Chicks: Chicks that have not been separated by male or female.
  • Sexed Chicks: Chicks that have been separated according to sex
  • Vent: Opening in the backside of a chicken where both waste is eliminated and eggs are laid
  • Wattles: Red colored skin that hangs from sides of chicken’s beak

There are MANY MANY more terms, but these are the main ones and will certainly get your started and help you navigate the world of buying, raising, and owning chickens!