Common Poultry Terms 


Pullet- a female chicken under 1 year old

Cockerel- a male chicken under 1 year old

Hen- a female chicken over 1year

Rooster/Cock/Roo- a male chicken over 1 year

Chicks- a chicken that is 1 day and over , generally til the point where the chick is fully feathered and then referred to as pullet/cockerel

SR/Straight Run- this means chicks (also turkeys, ducks, geese) have not been sexed. Many people sell their chicks as SR

Started Pullet- a female chicken that is past the chick stage, many use this term for pullets that are just started to lay

Ready to Lay- Pullets that are of an age of laying but have not quite started laying

Sex-Linked- the sex can be determined at hatch usually by color. Males one color, females another. Easy identification

Feather sexed- This method is used on fast feathering breeds…females and males feather growth are different.. determined by looking at the primaries, secondaries and coverts.


Poults- newly hatched turkeys up to the point of being fully feathered

Hen- Female turkey

Tom- Male turkey


Duckling- baby ducks (regardless of sex)

Ducks- females

Drakes- males


Gosling- baby geese

Goose- female

Gander- male

General Terms:

Broody- a hen that believes it is time to sit and hatchher young, a hen may go "broody"  even without an egg, it is instinctual

Brooding/ Brood- A hen caring for her newly hatched chicks, also referred to as the group of chicks

Gathering- when a mature hen starts to lay eggs in a nest, accumulating enough eggs to begin sitting; sometimes there may be a communal "gathering" 

Stealing a nest- when a broody hen wants to hatch out eggs she may steal anothers nest to satify the instinct to sit/brood

Sit/Sitter- a hen that, after gathering a nest. will stay on the nest for the incubation cycle til eggs hatch

Clutch- a group of eggs being sat on

Pip- when a chick that is hatching breaks through a part of the egg with it's eggtooth; may take 24 hours from the pip to hatch

Molt- when birds shed off or "lose" their feathers for new growth; during this time hens will not lay and their bodies are using all their energy for feathering replacement. Their shanks and beaks will regain their color. During the laying cycle shanks, beak will gradually lose color. Birds in a molt look terrible.

Dust bathing- chickens as well as turkeys will lay in the dirt and dig and fling dirt all over themselves; this also keeps mites off your birds. Sometimes a bird may get weighted down if it has too much dirt on itself- do not be alarmed if one stands up and can barely walk, he/she has just gotten too much dirt under the feathers, it will shake the dirt off eventually