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Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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Chicken Glossary – Common Terminology


  • Albumen– the egg white only, separate of the yolk
  • Bantam– a smaller breed of chicken. For example, Sussex are available in a standard (larger) size or bantam (smaller) size
  • Blastoderm– the “bullseye” of a fertilized egg. This will become the chick if allowed to develop.
  • Blastodisc– The unfertilized yolk spot that carries the hen’s genetic material. When fertilized by a rooster it becomes a blastoderm.
  • Bloom– protective layer on the outside of an egg, sealing it off to bacteria and retaining moisture
  • Brooder– Pen or container used to raise chicks until old enough to go outside/elsewhere without heat
  • Broody Hen– Female chicken that creates a nest and sits on eggs in an attempt to incubate them. She is often very protective of her eggs and may not allow them to be collected
  • Bumblefoot– Staph infection in the pad of the chooks foot. Consists of a “kernel” of infection, surrounded by pus. Must be treated promptly as these infections are fatal.
  • Chorion– Sac that holds the developing chick embryo and yolk (essentially a placenta)
  • Cloaca– also known as a vent, the cloaca is the opening for reproduction, waste elimination, and egg-laying
  • Cockerel– or cock, is a male chicken less than 1-year-old.
  • Comb– a chicken’s comb is the fleshy protrusion on the top of their head. There are several comb styles and vary based on breed and genetics.
  • Crop– Pouch at the base of the neck that holds food, water, and grit. This is the first stage in digestion. From the crop, food travels into the gizzard where it is broken down and digested.
  • Cull– to kill or slaughter. Whereas butchering is a planned killing to eat a mature bird, culling is done at any age when a bird is sick, injured, or otherwise genetically incorrect.
  • Deep Litter (method)– A method in which the litter inside the coop is allowed to decompose into compost instead of removing and replacing it. Practitioners state that this technique eliminates smell, and releases heat to keep birds warm in the winter.
  • Dual Purpose– A classification of chicken breeds that are used both for egg and meat production
  • Easter egger- a crossbreed of chicken that lays blue, pink, or green eggs.
  • Fermented Feed– a technique of soaking feed (crumbles, pellets, seeds, or grains) until it begins to ferment, with the purpose of creating a probiotic-rich food source for chickens
  • Fodder– seeds that are sprouted or grown, making them more nutritious for chickens
  • Gizzard– a bird’s “stomach”. The gizzard is a hollow, muscular organ that holds grit and grinds food. Ground food can then pass to the intestines to be digested and absorbed.
  • Hackles– or saddle feathers, the long, pointy feathers on a male chickens neck
  • Hen– Mature, egg-laying female chicken
  • Lash egg– an egg-shaped rubbery mass that is the result of inflammation and/or infection of the oviduct. As the pus, infection, and other material travels through the oviduct, it takes the shape of an egg.
  • Layer (chicken)- a chicken raised for the purposes of egg production
  • Moulting– the annual shedding of feathers. Male and female birds of all species start molting in their second year. Since feathers get lost or damaged throughout the year, the moult allows a bird to enter winter with a new set of feathers to protect it from the cold temperatures.
  • Nares– another term for nostrils
  • Olive Egger– A crossbreed of chicken that lays green or olive-coloured eggs, the result of breeding a Black Copper Marans hen with an Easter Egger rooster.
  • Oviduct– the tube that connects the ovary to vent, through which an egg travels
  • Pasty Butt– or pasted vent. This condition is seen in chicks when a layer of poop gets stuck to their down, blocking their vent and preventing any further deification. This can quickly become fatal and requires immediate attention.
  • Pellets– a form of poultry food where the food has been pressed into a pellet. Most feed comes in either a pellet or crumble. If the option is given, this refers only to the physical particle size, and they are nutritionally identical.
  • Pin feather– or blood feather, is a newly emerged feather. Feather is encased in a delicate keratin wrapper and can easily bleed if damaged.
  • Point of lay (or POL)– Point of lay is the term used for a pullet that is nearing the age when she should start to lay eggs. For most chickens, this is 16-24 weeks old.
  • Primaries (feathers)– the 10 large flight feathers at the end of the wing
  • Pullet– a young female chicken
  • Roost– a perch or object that the birds use to sleep on.
  • Rooster– a male chicken over 1 year old, however, the term is often used for a male chicken of any age. It is also regularly shortened to “roo”.
  • Saddle Feathers– also known as hackles- are the long, pointy feathers on a male chickens neck
  • Sour Crop– a yeast infection of the crop. Characterised by a large, swollen crop that feels like a water balloon, and a sour smell emanating from the bird’s mouth. Don’t confuse a sour crop with a crop that is full from a recent meal. A normal crop may be large but will be solid and disappear by the next day.
  • Vent– also known as a cloaca, the vent is the opening for reproduction, waste elimination, and egg-laying
  • Waddle– The flaps of skin that hang below the bird’s beak
  • Yolk– yellow part of the egg. This provides nourishment to a developing embryo

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