Whether you are new to raising chicks and caring for poultry or are a seasoned farmer - these terms can be very helpful when you have questions for fellow farmers, hatcheries or contacts at Southern States who can help answer your questions. They can also be great terms to teach your children or younger farming friends who are interested in learning more about flock management.
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Poultry Terms - Quick Reference List:
Bantam: A miniature chicken, about one-fourth the size of a regular chicken.
Biddy: Another term for chicks or baby chickens.
Brooder or brooder box: A heated enclosure for raising chicks. Protects chicks from drafts and predators and provides access to food and water.
Brooding period: The stage of life between hatch and adulthood. Usually lasts from the first eight to 10 weeks of life.
Broody hen: A hen that wants to sit on eggs to hatch them and brood chicks.
Chick tooth: Sharp end of a chick's beak used to poke a hole in the egg's shell during hatching. Also known as an egg tooth.
Clutch: A group of eggs, usually about 12. Term is commonly used with a group of eggs being sat on, or incubated, by a brooding hen.
Coccidiosis: Disease of fowl caused by a microscopic protozoa that causes diarrhea, unthriftiness or death. Occurs most frequently in chicks older than three weeks and in young adults. Transmitted by chicken waste. Prevented by many commercially available coccidiostats that can be added to feed.
Cockerel: A male chicken under one year of age. Also called a young rooster.
Comb: The fleshy, red-colored growth on top of a chicken's head.
CRD: Chronic Respiratory Disease, a common disease of chickens that is characterized by sneezing and difficulty breathing. Commonly controlled with antibiotics usually administered in feed or drinking water.
Down: Soft, fine feathers on chicks.
Dusting or dust bath: Common chicken behavior of bathing with dirt in a dusty shallow depression to rid themselves of mites and parasites.
Fount: A water fountain or watering device for chicken.
Gizzard: Internal chicken organ that crushes food with the help of pebbles or grit.
Grower feed: Commercially available feed formulated for adolescent, growing chickens. Usually used from nine to 20 weeks.
Hen: An adult female chicken over one year of age.
Incubator: An artificially heated container that simulates the environment for hatching eggs. Forced-air incubators have a fan to circulate the air. In a still-air incubator the air is not circulated mechanically. Incubator temperatures vary from 99 degrees to 103 degrees. According to University of Illinois poultry experts, 100.5 degrees is optimum for a still-air incubator.
Layers: Mature female chickens kept for egg production. Also known as laying hens.
Laying feed: Commercially available feed formulated for laying hens. Usually given to chickens beginning at 20 weeks of age.
Picking: Detrimental activity of chickens picking at each other's feathers.
Pullet: A female chicken under one year of age.
Rooster: An adult male chicken.
Scratch: A type of feed that can consist of cracked corn and different types of whole grains. Often fed as a treat for backyard chickens and not used as a main food source.
Starter feed: Pre-mixed commercial food for chicks, commonly available at feed or farm stores. According to University of Florida animal science experts, starter feeds usually contain about 20 percent crude protein and the vitamins and minerals needed by chicks. These feeds usually are also medicated. Should be fed to chicks for the first six to eight weeks of life.
Straight-run chicks: Chicks that have not been separated according to sexes. Chicks that have been separated are known as sexed chickens.
Have questions? Please reach out to your local Southern States team!