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.

Know More
What is the difference between a hen and a rooster?
Credit: zoetnet CC-BY-2.0

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.

Learn more in Chickens

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What do hens eat?

    A:

    Hens eat weeds, grass, vegetables, seeds, grit, grains and a variety of other foods depending on the purpose of the hen. Feeding laying hens calcium grit, natural lime sand or crushed up egg shells gives them the necessary calcium to produce high-quality eggs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Does "chicken" mean the same thing as "hen?"

    A:

    A chicken is a domesticated bird used for food, feathers and eggs, and a hen is the female of this species. The term "chicken" also describes a young bird of this species under 1 year old. The term "hen" is also used to describe the female of any bird.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • 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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Can chickens lay eggs without a rooster?

    A:

    Once it has reached physical maturity at about 6 months, a hen lays eggs regardless of whether it has mated with a rooster. The egg production also occurs regardless of male participation.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore