Chickens 101

People ask me all kinds of questions when they find out I have chickens. Now that I’m at the market with a few of my girls, I get dozens of those questions every week. I thought a short, basic chicken lesson would help. For more information, there are hundreds of websites, blogs and pages about chickens. Or maybe someday I’ll write a part two. (“>

First, let me answer the most common questions.

  • No, not all “chickens” lay eggs. Only the female “hens” lay eggs.
  • Most young hens lay one egg a day, 5-6 days per week.
  • Hens start laying eggs somewhere between 4-6 months old.
  • No, not all eggs have chicks in them, only the eggs fertilized… by a rooster…before laying.
  • Males and females both have combs and wattles. Most males have more prominent combs and wattles than their female counterparts.
  • Most chickens can fly short distances, over fences or up into trees where they naturally roost.
Next, let’s get our terminology straight.
  • Adult females are called hens.
  • Females that are too young to lay eggs are called pullets.
  • Adult males are called roosters.
  • Males under 1 year are called cockerels.
  • Baby chickens are called chicks.
  • comb is on the top of their heads and the wattles are on the sides of their beaks.
  • Chickens loose their feathers once a year in a molt.
  • coop is a hen house with a roost to stand on and a nesting box to lay in.

Finally, here are some other helpful and interesting facts.

  • Hens need 12-16 hours daylight to lay eggs. Most free-range hens don’t lay during the winter due to the shorter days.
  • Chickens live about 5-10 years depending on the breed.
  • Some breeds are better layers while others are better for their meat, “broilers” or “fryers”.
  • Chickens eat most anything. Grubs, popcorn, leftovers and scraps. Feed, water and egg shells and they’re good to go!
  • DO NOT feed them citrus, avocado skin or pit, raw eggs, salt or sugar.
  • They put themselves to bed at sunset.
  • Chickens are very social and fun to watch.
  • Chickens are easy to take care of. Food, water, hay for the nesting box, a safe place to roost for the night and a safe pen to run around in during the day. Don’t forget to check for eggs!
Have fun!   (“>

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