The Scoop on Chickens, Hens, & Roosters | Huge Differences!

Well, we are not going to get into the debate as to why did the chicken cross the road.

Instead, we are going to examine other common chicken terms like hen and rooster, among other various chicken terms used to describe a chicken.

The word “chicken” is used by most people as a way to describe all chickens just like most people would call a puppy a “dog” or a kitten a “cat”.

These terms are normal for most people but what about people that really know chickens?

Are young chickens classified with the word “chicken”? What about male chickens versus female chickens? Is chicken the correct word to describe them?

I’ve got the answers for you! Read on to learn what the correct terms are used to describe chickens based on age, sex, and other factors that I will discuss here.

Learn the correct terminologies for all chickens and read why these terms are used.

Let’s first look at what a chicken is and then look at the different types of words used to describe chickens based on certain factors.

What Is a Chicken?

Chickens are defined as domestic fowls that originated from a species of wildfowl first found in the jungles of India known as Gallus gallus. The subspecies we know today as the “chicken” is called Gallus Gallus Domesticus.

Chickens were first used for cockfighting dating back a long time ago before they were being used for meat and eggs.

Different Chicken Types

Chickens became very popular for people since they could provide meat and eggs and weren’t difficult animals to take care of and feed.

Chickens are now found all over the world. Some people keep them for eggs, others for meat. Some people even keep chickens for pets.

I’ve even seen a chicken play a song on a keyboard, so I guess they can be taught to a certain extent.

Most domestic chickens only live to be between 5 to 7 years old but some have been known to live as long as 10 to 12 years. The average lifespan for most domestic chickens will fall between 5 to 7 years though.

What Is a Chick?

A chick is a male or female chicken that is still at a relatively young age. Chicks are usually not that far removed from the egg and are newly hatched.

Most people define a chick as a male or female chicken that still has fuzz and has not developed feathers.

What Is a Hen?

A hen is classified differently depending on who you are talking to. Some people classify a female chicken as a hen when it lays its first egg. Other people classify a female chicken as a hen when the chicken is one year old.

Either way, a female chicken that has come into her own and started laying eggs will be classified as a hen by most people.

This is the time when the rooster should start paying attention to her and start trying to breed with her.

Research suggests that more people consider a chicken a hen after they lay their first egg, but know that other people may go by age instead.

What is a Hen?

Once a chicken becomes a hen and starts laying eggs, the hen will continue to lay eggs as often as her cycle tells her to with the hen having no control over this cycle.

Hens do not need a rooster to lay an egg. Laying eggs come naturally whether a rooster is present or not. If there is no rooster, the eggs will not materialize into a chick though.

Many people that raise hens for eggs don’t have a rooster because there is no need for one for a hen to lay her eggs.

Hens usually lay eggs through their first year until they start to molt (shed old feathers and regrow new ones).

Once the molting has stopped and the new feathers have grown in, the hen will start laying eggs again for several years until the hen becomes old. Hens typically stop laying eggs in their 3rd or 4th year.

What Is a Pullet?

A pullet is generally defined as a female chicken that has not started laying eggs yet but is fully feathered and past the chick stage. Pullets are usually under a year of age and haven’t started laying eggs.

This definition is considered accurate by most, but some people consider a female chicken as a pullet until the female chicken has her first molt.

This isn’t entirely accurate though, considering female chickens can lay eggs before they even have their first molt.

What Is a Cockerel?

A cockerel is similar to a pullet but the fully feathered male chicken version. Cockerels are male chickens that are under one year of age and haven’t started mating yet.

The term cockerel is widely used in the UK and Europe, but most people in the U.S. mainly just use the term “rooster” or “cock” to describe most male chickens regardless of their age.

What Is a Rooster?

A rooster is considered a male chicken that has either started mating with the hens or has reached a year old.

Most people will use the term rooster or cock when describing a male chicken that is of age.

What is a Rooster?

Young roosters have to follow a hierarchy since there is usually an older rooster in charge of the flock that the younger roosters must obey.

What Is a Capon?

A capon is a rooster that has been altered surgically to remove the rooster’s testicles. Implants of estrogen can also provide the same effects as removing the testicles.

People will do this to reduce aggression in the roosters. This is usually done to prepare roosters for meat.

It is claimed that a rooster that has been canonized will have tender and juicier meat.

This is considered a delicacy in some places such as France and Spain.


You should now have a pretty good idea of what commonly used chicken terms mean based on their age, sex, and other factors.

Now you can start correcting all those misinformed people.

In this article, I provided you with the different meanings for chickens which included capons, cockerels, chicks, hens, pullets, and roosters.

You learned the difference between a hen and rooster, chicken and chick, pullet and cockerel, and much more.

This article broke down the names and meanings of small chicks, female and male chickens, and what they are called during various stages of their life.

Now that you know more about chickens, go and educate your non-chicken friends and correct them when they are using the wrong term.

I hope you found this article useful and found the answer or research you were looking for. I am constantly writing new articles for the site.

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