A Vocabulary List Built Just for Chicken Owners

Chickens (n): Defined

A Vocabulary List Built Just for Chicken Owners

My substitution for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness, and Harper’s magazines were always easy: Strombergs, Murray McMurray Hatchery and Holderread Waterfowl. These magazines would keep me occupied for not only hours, but days. I would study all the one-inch by one-inch cells that would contain an exemplar picture of an adult male and female duck, chicken, turkey, or goose. The magazines would arrive in late winter, days apart from one another, just in time for placing an order in the early spring. This way the chicks or ducklings would be ready to be judged at the summer fairs.

For those new to the hobby or for veterans who want to brush up, here are the must have vocabulary words for a chicken owner.

FEMALE CHICKENS

BROODY
A hen that covers eggs to warm and hatch them. Sometimes refers to a hen that stays in the nest for an extended period without producing eggs.

DAM
Mother.

HEN
A female ch
icken.

IMPACTION
The blockage of a part of the digestive tract, typically the crop or cloaca.

ISTHMUS
The part of the female reproductive tract where the inner and outer shell membranes are added.

NEST EGG
Artificial egg placed in a nest to encourage hens to lay there.

OVARY
A part of the female avian reproductive tract which holds the female genetic material and collects the yolk material normally associated with eggs.

OVIDUCT
A part of the female avian reproductive tract where the egg white (albumen), shell membranes, shell and bloom (cuticle) are added to form a complete egg.

OVIPOSITION
The laying of an egg.

OVULATION
The release of a yolk from the ovary.

PULLET
A female chicken under one year old.

SET
To keep eggs warm so they will hatch; also called “brood.”

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MALE CHICKENS

COCK
A male chicken; also called a “rooster.”

COCKEREL
A male chicken under one year old.

SIRE
Father.

SPUR
The sharp horny protrusion from the back of a bird’s shank (typically larger in males than in females).

STAG
A cockerel on the brink of sexual maturity, when his comb and spurs begin to develop.

TESTES
The male reproductive glands (located internally in birds).

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HUSBANDRY

BROODER
A heated enclosure used to imitate the warmth and protection a mother hen gives her chicks.

CANDLE
To examine the contents of an intact egg with a strong light source.

FLOCK
A group of chickens living together.

FREE RANGE
To allow chickens to roam a yard or pasture at will.

GRIT
Sand and small pebbles eaten by a chicken and used by its gizzard to grind up grain and plant fiber.

PECKING ORDER
The social rank of individuals within a flock.

PERCH
A place where chickens can get off the floor (also called a roost).

PINFEATHERS
The tips of newly emerging feathers.

STARTER
A feed ration for newly hatched chicks, also called “crumbles.”

STRAIGHT-RUN (CHICKS)
Day-old chicks who have not been sorted by sex (also called unsexed).

ZOONOSIS
A disease transmissible from an animal to a human.

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ANATOMY & HEALTH

ALEKTOROPHOBIA
Fear of chickens (probably no one reading this magazine.)

BLOOM
Also known as the cuticle, it is the natural coating on the eggshell. The bloom helps to prevent bacteria from getting inside the shell and reduces moisture loss from the egg.

BROOD
1. To care for a batch of chicks. 2. The chicks themselves.

CARRIER
An apparently healthy individual that transmits disease to other individuals. This individual carries the recessive trait.

CHALAZAE
Two white cords on each side of a yolk that keep the yolk properly positioned within the egg white; singular: chalaza.

COCCIDIOSIS
A parasitic protozoal infestation, usually occurring in damp, unclean housing.

COMB
The fleshy, usually red, top of a chicken’s head.

CREST
A puff of feathers on the heads of breeds such, as Houdan, Silkie, or Polish; also called a “topknot.”

CROP
A pouch at the base of a chicken’s neck that bulges after the bird has eaten.

EGG TOOTH
A tooth-like structure on a chick’s upper beak that helps the chick pip through the shell.

EMBRYO
A fertilized egg at any stage of development prior to hatching.

GIZZARD
An organ that contains grit for grinding up the grain and plant fiber a chicken eats.

HACKLES
Feathers over the back of a chicken that are pointed in males and rounded in females.

HELMINTHES
A category of parasitic worms.

KEEL
The breast bone of birds.

MOLT (MOULT)
A part of the hen’s reproductive cycle when she stops laying and lose her body feathers. Males loose feathers during a molt as well.

PREEN GLAND
An oil sack on the back, near the base of the tail of birds providing oil used in preening (also called the oil or uropygial gland).

SADDLE
A part of a bird’s back just before the tail.

SPLAYED LEGS
The legs are positioned making the bird unable to stand up (also called “spraddle legs”).

VENT
The outside opening of the cloaca in birds through which the digestive, excretory and reproductive tracts empty.

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POULTRY SHOWS

AMERICAN STANDARD OF PERFECTION
A book published by the American Poultry Association describing the ideal specimen for each breed recognized by that organization.

BANTAM
A miniature chicken. Banty (pl.).

BREED
A stock of chickens, having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.

BROILER
A young, meat chicken; also called a “fryer.”

CLEAN LEGGED
Having no feathers growing down the shanks.

CONFORMATION
A chicken’s body shape/structure.

FEATHER LEGGED
Having feathers growing down the shanks, i.e., Cochins and Brahmas.

LACING
Border of contrast color around the entire feather.

TRIO
A male with two females of the same species, breed and variety.

 

Kenny Coogan, CPBT-KA, is a pet and garden columnist and has been fascinated with the English language for years. Some of his favorite words are crepuscular, cauliflory and coprophagy. Coogan leads workshops about owning chickens, vegetable gardening, animal training, and corporate team building on his homestead. His newest book 99 ½ Homesteading Poems: A Backyard Guide to Raising Creatures, Growing Opportunity, and Cultivating Community is now available at kennycoogan.com.

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