Glossary of Chicken Terms

Types of Chickens: Hens Vs. Roosters

By Martha White
October 7, 2016
Glossary of Chicken Terms-Chicken-Thinkstock

A vigilant Rooster keeps an eye out for predators.

Photo by Thinkstock

Can you tell the difference between a hen and a rooster? What is a pullet? We’ve compiled a list of chicken terms every owner needs to know.

Terms for Types of Chickens

  • Bantam: A diminutive breed of domestic fowl. Find out more about other chicken breeds.
  • Boiler: A chicken 6 to 9 months old.
  • Broiler: A cockerel of 2 or 3 pounds, at 8 to 12 weeks old.
  • Cock: A male chicken, also called a rooster.
  • Cockerel: A young rooster, under 1 year old.
  • Fryer: A chicken of 3 to 4 pounds, at 12 to 14 weeks old.
  • Hen: A female chicken.
  • Nest Egg: Literally, a china or wooden egg placed into the nest to encourage laying; figuratively, something set aside as security. Learn more about egg production in your chicken coop.
  • Point-of-lay Pullet: A young female, just about to lay, near 5 months old.
  • Pullet: A young female chicken, under 1 year old.
  • Roaster: A chicken of 4 to 6 pounds, over 12 to 14 weeks old.
  • Rooster: A male chicken; also called a cock.
  • Sexed Chicks: Separated into pullets only or only cockerels
  • Straight Run: Pullets and cockerels, mixed (unsexed or “as hatched.”)

Are you interested in raising chickens? Find out how to get started!


The 2000 Old Farmer's Almanac: This article was originally published in 2010 and has been updated.

Reader Comments

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Types of chickens

You don’t mention either spent hens or capons in your glossary of names for types of chickens. Why?


What is the process of a Hen laying an egg called?

Baby Chickens

Here along the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, I've always heard the term "biddy"(pl: biddies) applied to baby chicks, not to adult birds. I've always been told that it is a variant of the word "birdie" with the influence of West African dialects. I had never heard baby chickens referred to as "chicks" until I was in the 4th grade, when I had a teacher who was from Maryland. She was also the first person I ever heard refer to human children as "kids", but that's a different story. I've always called baby chickens "biddies". I have heard from a person in Kentucky who says that where she lives, people call baby chickens "dibbles", and I've seen chicken breeders in North Carolina refer to them as "dibbies". A "pullet" is a female chicken less than a year of age, and a "cockerel" is a male chicken less than a year of age; once they turn a year old they are "hens" or "roosters", respectively. In gamefowl, a male bird under two years of age is called a "stag", and if he is especially fast-developing or masculine, he's called a "bull stag". After he turns two, he's referred to as a "cock", not usually as a "rooster".

Addition to the topic

Pullets are female chickens that are not sexually matured. That is, less than 5 months of age.


What would a male version of a henhouse be? A C*c*den? A roost? or something else?
Thanks in advance,
The profanity filter stopped me from spelling C*c*den right.

Rooster roost

The Editors's picture

That’s our best guess, Zaahid.


What is a Capon & where does it fit in the chicken name game?


The Editors's picture

Capons are male chickens (cockerels) that have been castrated before they reach maturity. This makes them less aggressive. The meat is more tender and flavorful, less gamy, and contains more fat.

I ran across an old grocery

I ran across an old grocery store ad from the 1950's. On sale were "colored fryers". Can you tell me what those are?

can you please tell me what

can you please tell me what an old chicken is called

Soup! :)

Soup! :)

Hi, Blackbird: Sometimes old

The Editors's picture

Hi, Blackbird: Sometimes old chickens are referred to as "biddies," but more often an old hen is called a "spent" if she is no longer laying eggs. Thanks for asking!

Old chicken

is called 'chicken and dumplings'. :)

Also include layers. The hens

Also include layers. The hens who have started laying or laying for a long time.

Hi, thanks but a little

Hi, thanks but a little confused.

If a Hen is a female chicken, and a cock or cockerel is a male, what are fryers and roasters, which you simply call

Fryer "A chicken of 3 to 4 pounds, at 12 to 14 weeks old."


Roaster: A chicken of 4 to 6 pounds, over 12 to 14 weeks old"


Fryers and Roasters can be

Fryers and Roasters can be male or female.