August 14, 2012 | No Comments

Someone asked a question about a term I used in a previous article yesterday, so I thought it might be nice to start a New Chicken Keeper’s Dictionary.  Eventually I hope to have a whole stack of similar Chicken Keeping 101 resources for you to reference. If you’ve been searching the internet for info and talking to more experienced chicken keepers, there will be new words you just won’t be familiar with.  I’m going to start with the very basic, so bear with me as we make it through a few that may seem obvious.

I will put this post under the “Start From Scratch” tab, and I will add to it as new questions arise.  I doubt that it will be complete right off the bat, but hopefully if we keep adding to it we will end up with something useful for newbies.

The Basics
Hen:  adult female
Rooster: adult male
Pullet: juvenile female
Cockerel: juvenile male
Straight Run: “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” aka mixed pullets and cockerels, no guarantees as to how many of each you will receive
Bantum: (sometimes Banty) small breed chicken.  There is a bantum breed that resembles many or most large breeds
Coop Parts
Roost: raised bar for chickens to sleep on
Nest box: secluded area for laying eggs
Poop board: removable board under roosts to help in cleaning the dirtiest area of the coop
Brooder: housing for chicks not being raised by a mother hen
Tractor: moveable coop
Run: enclosed outdoor area
Medicated Starter: Feed for baby chicks with medication to control Coccidiosis (only needed a couple of weeks)
Grower: Feed for juveniles after medicated starter until old enough to lay eggs (20 weeks or so)
Layer: Feed for adult chickens – If multiple ages live together you can continue grower
Oyster shell: Added calcium for hens.  Especially important if feeding grower
Grit: Small pieces of rock that help chickens digest their food
Scratch: Dried grain and seeds. Little nutritional value. Treat for chickens.  Some say eating it keeps them warmer in winter.
Fount: Another name for a waterer
Pecking Order: Any time chickens live together, there is a hierarchy.  This begins within days of birth and will be readjusted anytime the flock gains or looses members.  
Dust Bathing: Digging down into the dirt then rolling in the loose earth and fluffing feathers.  This helps prevent mites and keeps them cooler in the summer.
Broody: When a hen has a biological urge to become a mother.  She will gather eggs (and defend them if you try to take them!) to sit on, even if they are not fertile, and even taking eggs of other hens.
Crouching: A show of submission.  Hens will do this for roosters and also for you.  This is the first sign that a hen will begin laying eggs soon.
Health Issues
Bumblefoot: An infection on the bottom of the foot, mostly seen in heavy breeds
Coccidiosis: An illness carried by all chickens.  Doesn’t cause problems unless there is an overgrowth.  Primary symptom is bloody droppings
Egg Binding: When an egg gets stuck on its way through the reproductive tract.  Can be fatal if not corrected.
Impacted Crop: When too much food gets stuck in the crop.  Often a result of chickens eating long grass that gets tangled.
Mites: tiny parasites
Pasty Butt: Chick’s vent becomes plugged with its own droppings.  Needs to be cleaned off before it causes further problems.
Molting: Normal time of loosing old feathers and growing in new ones.  Stressful for chickens.  They will likely stop laying.  Some hatchery chicks are bred to have very light molts.
Worms: Many varieties.  Carried in feces and then picked up by other chickens.  Many keepers use a dewormer once or twice a year as a preventative.
Cull: Remove from flock, usually by butchering but can also be by selling/giving away
Body Parts
Crop: Holding area for food
Vent: Exit point for eggs and droppings
Debeaked chicken: Chicken who has had a portion of beak removed to prevent pecking.  Mainly done in large poultry houses, but you can buy them this way from hatcheries (I don’t recommend it!)
Breed Abreviations and Descriptions
NPIP – National Poultry Improvement Plan (chickens advertised NPIP are from a flock tested for certain diseases)
BBS = Black/Blue/Splash
LF – Large Fowl (not a Bantum)
BR – Barred Rock
RIR – Rhode Island Red
BO – Buff Orpington
BCM = Black Copper Marans
EE – Easter Egger
BLRW Blue Laced Red Wyandotte
GLW – Gold Laced Wyandotte
SLW – Silver Laced Wyandotte
SF – Salmon Faverolles
SS – Speckled Sussex
OEG – Old English Game
OEGB – Old English Game Bantam


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