Chicken Dictionary: Common Chicken Terms
BANTAM: a miniature variety of a standard breed of chicken. A bantam is not a breed. For example, Leghorn and Leghorn Bantam.
BLOODLINE: also known as strains; a bird’s pedigree or ancestors, resulting in desired characteristics
BROODY; BROODINESS: or ‘clucky’ — a broody hen stops laying and sits on her nest all day to hatch eggs, even if there are no eggs under her
CHOOK: Australian term for chicken
CLUCKY: See Broody; Broodiness
CROP: An expandable pouch near the chicken’s throat in which food is pre-digested and ground up. A bird should have a full crop, bulging but soft, at dusk. The food is then digested overnight.
CROSSBREDS: a cross between two pure breeds of chickens. If hatched in a commercial hatchery, they are likely to be good layers. See hybrid layer.
DAY-OLD CHICKS: newly hatched chicks (up to 3-4 days old). Note: their care is not covered in this book.
FLIGHTY: excitable birds who will fly if at all startled
HYBRID LAYER: chicken specially cross-bred for her egg laying ability
HYLINE BIRD: genetically created prolific layer
ISA BROWN: genetically created prolific layer. In Australia we often (incorrectly) use the term "Isa Brown" to describe any red commercial layer. The name, ISA Brown, is trademarked to the "Institut de Sélection Animale" and breeders have to be officially licensed to sell ISA Brown Chickens. In Australia, many people buy and sell "Isa Browns" that may in fact be Hyline Reds, Lohmann Browns or another commercial red or brown layer; but true Isa Brown genetics are available in Australia.
MOULTING: annual shedding and renewal of feathers
PERCH: Chickens sleep up off the ground; a chicken coop must have a raised perch on which they will roost and sleep at night
POINT OF LAY (POL): birds typically over 15 weeks old who will shortly begin laying
PULLET: female chicken less than a year old
PUREBRED: A bird belonging to a specific named breed, such as Leghorn, Australorp, Silkies. Often very attractive but less prolific layers than crossbred or hybrid birds
PREDATORS: any other bird or animal that will attack and kill your chickens, from eagles to foxes to snakes
SEX-LINKED: crossbred birds that have different male and female colours at hatching
STRAINS: see bloodlines
VENT: the chicken’s backside, under its tail. A healthy bird has a clean vent. If the vent is soiled or bloody, something’s wrong.
WING-TRIMMING: cutting off the ends of the flight feathers (it’s painless) to prevent a bird from flying
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Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.