What is the difference between a hen and a rooster?
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Q:

What is the difference between a hen and a rooster?

A:

Quick Answer

A rooster is a male chicken, and a hen is a female chicken. While it is often difficult to tell them apart when they are young, some basic physical characteristics distinguish roosters from hens.

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Full Answer

The process of identifying the gender of chickens is called sexing. It can be difficult to determine the sex of chicks, which are baby chickens. Sexing chicks becomes easier as they grow older.

There are many different breeds of chicken, but terminology tends to remain standard across types and breeds. For example, a young female chicken that is not of breeding age is called a pullet while a young male chicken of similar age is called a cockerel. Adult females are called hens, and adult males are called roosters. Gender distinctions begin at the pullet and cockerel stage for many breeds.

A few general characteristics aid in the visual identification of chickens by gender:

  • Both roosters and hens have combs and waddles, but those on the male are more prominent
  • Rooster tail feathers are often longer, fuller and pointed
  • Hen tail feathers are rounded
  • Both roosters and hens have spurs, but those on the male are more prominent

In certain breeds, roosters are also larger than hens. Additionally, roosters crow, while hens do not.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How are chicken eggs fertilized?

    A:

    When a rooster and hen mate, the semen is stored inside the oviduct and is used later to fertilize the egg before the shell forms around it. The semen can be used up to a month after storage.

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  • Q:

    How does a chicken egg become fertilized?

    A:

    Chicken eggs become fertilized when chickens mate and the rooster's sperm successfully comes into contact with the ovum released by the hen's ovary. After the ovum's release, the sperm have around a half an hour to fertilize it before the shell begins to form.

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  • Q:

    How do chickens reproduce?

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    When a rooster and hen mate, a fertilized egg is produced. The chicken lays the egg and, if exposed to the right conditions, it continues to develop for 21 days after which a chick hatches.

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  • Q:

    How do you tell if your chicken is a rooster?

    A:

    The easiest way to tell if a chicken is a rooster is to see if it lays eggs or crows; if it crows, it is a rooster, and if it lays eggs, it is a hen. If the chicken is too young to lay eggs, additional clues, such as the color of its comb, can help determine the gender.

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