What Are Some Chicken Terms and Phrases?

Are you a chicken enthusiast, or simply curious about some of the terms and phrases used in the world of chickens? Whether you are a seasoned farmer, a backyard chicken keeper, or just someone who loves learning new things, this article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to some of the most commonly used chicken terms and phrases.


Chickens have been domesticated for thousands of years and are one of the most popular livestock animals in the world. They are kept for their eggs, meat, and as pets, and have a unique vocabulary associated with their care and management.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common chicken terms and phrases used in the world of chicken keeping, including types of chickens, chicken anatomy, feathers and plumage, behavior and communication, health and disease, housing and equipment, breeding and genetics, egg production, and meat production.

Types of Chickens

Chickens come in a variety of breeds and types, each with their own unique characteristics and uses. Some of the most common types of chickens include:

1. Layers

Layers are chickens that are kept for their egg-laying abilities. They typically have a smaller body size and lay eggs on a regular basis.

2. Broilers

Broilers are chickens that are raised for meat production. They have a larger body size and are bred to grow quickly.

3. Dual-Purpose

Dual-purpose chickens are breeds that are suitable for both egg-laying and meat production. They have a moderate body size and can lay a reasonable number of eggs while also producing meat.

4. Bantams

Bantams are miniature versions of standard chicken breeds. They are popular as pets and for their ornamental value.

Chicken Anatomy

Understanding chicken anatomy is important for proper care and management. Some of the most important parts of a chicken’s anatomy include:

1. Comb

The comb is a fleshy growth on top of a chicken’s head. It helps regulate their body temperature and is an indicator of health.

2. Wattles

Wattles are fleshy growths on the sides of a chicken’s head. They also help regulate body temperature.

3. Beak

The beak is a chicken’s mouth and is used for eating and drinking. It is also an important tool for grooming and self-defense.

4. Cloaca

The cloaca is a multi-functional opening on a chicken’s underside. It is used for excretion, reproduction, and laying eggs.

Feathers and Plumage

Chickens are known for their beautiful feathers and plumage, which can vary in color and pattern. Some of the most common terms associated with chicken feathers include:

1. Hackle Feathers

Hackle feathers are long feathers located on a chicken’s neck and shoulders. They are often used for fly-fishing lures.

2. Saddle Feathers

Saddle feathers are long feathers located on a chicken’s lower back. They are also used for fly-fishing lures.

3. Flight Feathers

Flight feathers are the large, strong feathers that allow chickens to fly short distances.

4. Down Feathers

Down feathers are soft, fluffy feathers located close to a chicken’s skin. They are used for insulation and keeping the bird warm.

Behavior and Communication

Chickens are social animals and have

unique behaviors and communication methods. Some of the most common terms used to describe chicken behavior and communication include:

1. Broodiness

Broodiness is a natural behavior in hens where they become devoted to sitting on their eggs and incubating them until they hatch.

2. Roosting

Roosting is when chickens settle in for the night on a perch or roosting bar.

3. Preening

Preening is when chickens clean and maintain their feathers by using their beak to distribute oil and remove dirt.

4. Clucking

Clucking is a vocalization that chickens use to communicate with each other. It can indicate stress, hunger, or excitement.

Health and Disease

Like all animals, chickens are susceptible to a variety of health issues and diseases. Some of the most common terms associated with chicken health and disease include:

1. Marek’s Disease

Marek’s Disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects young chickens. It can cause tumors, paralysis, and death.

2. Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that affects the intestinal tract of chickens. It can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and even death.

3. Flock Management

Flock management refers to the various strategies and practices used to keep chickens healthy and prevent the spread of disease.

4. Biosecurity

Biosecurity refers to measures taken to prevent the introduction and spread of disease on a farm or property.

Housing and Equipment

Providing appropriate housing and equipment is essential for the health and well-being of chickens. Some of the most common terms associated with chicken housing and equipment include:

1. Coop

A coop is a shelter or housing structure for chickens. It provides protection from the elements and predators.

2. Nest Box

A nest box is a small, enclosed space in the coop where chickens can lay their eggs.

3. Feeder

A feeder is a container that holds food for chickens.

4. Waterer

A waterer is a container that holds water for chickens to drink.

Breeding and Genetics

Breeding and genetics play an important role in the development of different chicken breeds and traits. Some of the most common terms associated with chicken breeding and genetics include:

1. Hybrid

A hybrid chicken is a cross between two different breeds or types of chickens.

2. Inbreeding

Inbreeding is the process of breeding closely related chickens to produce offspring with desired traits.

3. Genetics

Genetics is the study of heredity and the transmission of traits from one generation to the next.

4. Phenotype

Phenotype refers to the observable characteristics or traits of an individual chicken.

Egg Production

Egg production is one of the primary reasons why chickens are kept. Some of the most common terms associated with chicken egg production include:

1. Broody Hen

A broody hen is a hen that is devoted to sitting on her eggs and incubating them.

2. Eggshell

The eggshell is the hard outer layer of an egg. It protects the contents of the egg and helps regulate gas exchange.

3. Yolk

The yolk is the yellow part of an egg. It contains nutrients and is the site of embryo development.

4. Albumen

The albumen is the clear, viscous liquid that surrounds the yolk. It provides protection and cushioning for the yolk.

Meat Production

In addition to egg production, chickens are also raised for their meat. Some of the most

common terms associated with chicken meat production include:

1. Broiler

A broiler is a chicken that is raised specifically for meat production.

2. Processing

Processing refers to the slaughter and preparation of chickens for meat consumption.

3. Carcass

The carcass is the body of the chicken after it has been processed and the meat has been removed.

4. Giblets

Giblets are the edible internal organs of a chicken, including the liver, heart, and gizzard.


Chickens are fascinating creatures with their own unique language and behaviors. Understanding the terms and phrases associated with chicken keeping can help you become a more knowledgeable and successful chicken owner. From broodiness to biosecurity, the terms discussed in this article cover a wide range of topics related to chicken keeping. By incorporating them into your vocabulary, you can communicate more effectively with other chicken owners and better care for your own flock.


  1. Can chickens really communicate with each other? Yes, chickens have their own language and use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with each other.
  2. What is the best way to prevent disease in a chicken flock? Practicing good biosecurity measures, such as keeping the coop clean and limiting access to outside visitors, is key to preventing the spread of disease in a chicken flock.
  3. What are some common health issues that affect chickens? Common health issues in chickens include Marek’s Disease, Coccidiosis, and respiratory infections.
  4. How can I improve egg production in my chickens? Providing a healthy diet, ample water, and a clean and comfortable living environment can help improve egg production in chickens.
  5. What is the difference between a broiler and a layer chicken? A broiler is a chicken that is raised specifically for meat production, while a layer chicken is raised for egg production.

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Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Camford Publishing
Founder of On the Horizon (camford publishing)and The Technology Source, and professor of education at North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Morrison is author and co-author of over 200 publications focusing on educational planning and using information technology tools.Dr. Morrison has delivered numerous conference presentations and workshops for associations such as EDUCAUSE, AAHE, the College Board and others.He has served as a planning consultant to a number of colleges, universities, university systems, community colleges, educational agencies and public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, and Department of the Army.His consulting activities focus on assisting organizations to integrate information technology tools in teaching and management.

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