I’ve been around chickens for years, so I’m familiar with all the terms and words used to describe male and female chickens. For a lot of people, all the various terms can be confusing though.
What is the difference between a hen and a chicken? In simple terms, a hen is a female chicken. Chickens are a species of bird and a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus).
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Is a Chicken and a Hen the Same Thing?
Yes… and no.
I’m not trying to further complicate things. What I mean by this is; hens are female chickens. So, hens are chickens, yes.
But not all chickens are hens. Chicken is the term for a species of bird. This encompasses both males and females.
While female chickens are called hens, or pullets if they are too young to lay. Male chickens are called roosters when fully grown, and cockerels when they are younger.
Makes sense when explained like that, right?
What Is the Difference Between a Rooster and a Hen and a Chicken?
Another way of explaining the difference between a rooster, hen, and chickens is:
Rooster = Adult male chicken
Hen = Adult female chicken
Chicken = A species of bird that encompasses females and males.
The reason the lines are blurred between these different terms is that people just refer to all chickens as chickens for the most part.
Because they are.
But, hens are roosters are very different and serve very different purposes within a flock. Personally, I always refer to males and females as either roosters or hens. Maybe you will too in the future now.
What Is the Difference Between Fowl and Hen?
The word fowl can also be used to describe chickens and other birds.
The main difference between a hen or a chicken and a fowl is that fowls are a superorder of birds. While chickens are domesticated fowls.
Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) are a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. So, chickens are not referred to as fowls often. But technically they are an order of fowls just as other birds are.
What Is the Difference Between Chicken and Chick?
The difference between a chicken and a chick - apart from the obvious “en” - is that chicks are baby chickens.
When a chicken hatches, it’s called a baby chick. They are generally referred to as chicks while they still have their fuzz and are yet to grow their coat of real feathers.
There is no exact point of age when a chick becomes a chicken. Generally speaking, it will be when they are around 5 weeks old.
It’s around the 5-week mark when chicks no longer need artificial heat as they are developing their own coat of feathers.
They can start to spend some time outdoors, and this is when most backyard chicken owners agree they officially become “chickens”.
Not hens and roosters though. There is another stage before chickens mature to adult hens and roosters…
What Are Pullets and Cockerels?
Pullets are young female chickens, and cockerels are young male chickens.
These are the names for chickens between the young chick phase and the mature fully grown phase.
Typically, a pullet is less than a year old and not laying eggs yet. While a cockerel is also less than a year old.
Is There a Difference Between Chicken and Hen Eggs?
No, there is no difference between chicken and hen eggs.
As I’ve already explained, a hen is an adult female chicken. Only hens are able to lay eggs, the male (roosters) do not lay eggs.
Sometimes I hear females from other species of birds referred to as hens, but eggs from other species are always identified as being different to chickens eggs.
If you made it through the whole article, you can now call yourself an expert in chicken terminology.
It’s really not that complicated. Chickens are a species of bird, therefore there are males (roosters) and females (hens).
Image credits - Photos by Zosia Korcz & Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash.