Alektorophobia . Fear of chickens.


Auto-sexing . An auto-sexing breed is a breed in which the male and female day-old chicks can be distinguished. Some physical characteristic must be observable that is different in males than females. The important difference between a sex-link hybrid and an auto-sexing breed is that the auto-sexing breed is a pure, true-breeding strain and not a hybrid.

Avian . Pertaining to birds.

Bantam . A miniature chicken, about one-fourth the size of a full size chicken.

Banty . Affectionate word for bantam.

Beard . The feathers ( always found in association with a muff) bunched under the beaks of such breeds as Antwerp Belgian, Faverolle, and Houdan.

Bill Out . Use of beak to scoop feed out of feeder onto floor.

Bleaching . The fading of color from the beak, shanks, and vent of yellow skinned laying hens.

Bloom . The moist, protective coating on a freshly laid egg the dries so fast you rarely see it: also the peak condition of a show bird.

Blowout . Vent damage caused by an over sized egg.

Booted. Having feathers on shanks and toes.

Break up . To discourage a hen from setting.


Breed . A population of a species that have distinct characteristics that differentiate them form other populations in that species. Individuals within that population that reproduce with another individual of the population will produce offspring that are recognizable as members of that population. Breeds can further be subdivided into varieties based on differences within the breed.


Broiler . A young, tender meat chicken also called fryer.

Brood . To care for a batch of chicks, also the chicks themselves.

Brooder . A mechanical device used to imitate the warmth and protection a mother hen gives her chicks.

Broody . A hen that covers eggs to warm and hatch them.

Candle . To examine the contents of an intact egg with a light.

Candler . A light used to examine the contents of an egg.

Cannibalism . The bad habit chickens have of eating each others flesh, feathers or eggs.

Cape . The narrow feathers between a chickens neck and back.

Capon . A castrated rooster.

Chook . Slang for chicken.

Clutch . A batch of eggs that are hatched together, either in a nest or in an incubator.

Cock . A male chicken, also called a rooster. One year old or more.

Cockerel . A male chicken under one year old.

Comb . The usually red or purplish fleshy out growth on top the head.

Coop . The house where a chicken lives.

Crest . A puff of feathers on the heads of breed such as Houdan, Silkie, or Polish, also called topknot.

Crop. A pouch at the base of a chicken neck that bulges after a chicken has eaten, also to trim a chickens wattles.

Cull . To eliminate a non-productive or inferior chicken from the flock also the non-productive or inferior chicken itself.

Dam . Mother

Debeak . To remove a portion of a birds top beak to prevent cannibalism.

Droppings . Chicken manure.

Dub . To trim a comb.

Dust or dust bath . The habit chickens have of thrashing around in soft soil to clean their feathers and discourage parasites.

Egg tooth . A horny cap on a chicks upper beak that helps the chick pip through the shell.

Enteritis . Inflammation of the intestine.

Fecal . Pertaining to feces.

Feces . Droppings or body waste.

Feral . Wild, untamed, not domesticated.

Flock . A group of chickens living together.

Fowl . Domesticated birds raised for food; also a stewing hen.

Free range . To allow chickens to roam pasture at will.

Frizzle . Feathers that curl rather than laying flat.

Gizzard . An organ that contains grit for grinding up grain or plant fiber a chicken eats.

Grit . Sand and small pebbles eaten by chickens and used by its gizzard to grind food.

Hackles . A roosters cape feathers.

Hen . A female chicken. One year old or more.

Hock . The joint between the lower thigh and shank, sometimes incorrectly referred to as the knee.

Hybrid . A cross breed - typically used for a purposeful crossing of two species to produce offspring with a unique set of characteristics. Mating two hybrid birds will not produce offspring with the same characteristics of the parents. (See Breed)


Keel . The breast bone.

Litter . Bedding. Also used to collect and hold droppings.

Molt or moult . The annual shedding and renewing of a birds feathers.

Necropsy . A postmortem examination. Equivalent to a human autopsy.

Pasting . Loose droppings sticking to vent area.

Peck order . The social rank of chickens.

Pip . The hole a newly formed chick makes in its shell when its ready to hatch; also the act of making the hole.

Pullet . A female chicken less than one year old.

Rooster . Male chicken.

Saddle . The part of the chickens back just before the tail.

Sex-link A genetic trait that creates a difference (usually in color) between males and females. Most often this is used to refer to traits that make chicks of different genders visibly distinct for ease of sexing. The term may apply to the gene or characteristic, or is often applied to hybrid crosses that display this characteristic such as the Golden Sex-link.

Sickles . Long curved tail feathers on some roosters.

Sire . Father.

Spent. No longer laying well.

Starve-out . Failure of chicks to eat.

Straight run . Newly hatched chicks that have not been sexed.

Vent . The outside opening of the cloaca, through which the chicken emits eggs and droppings from separate channels.

Wattles . The two red purplish flaps of flesh that dangle from under a chicken's chin.
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