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.
- A 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.
- A 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! (“>