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

    What is a baby hen called?

    A:

    Baby hens are called pullets and are distinguished from baby roosters, which are called cockerels, by the shape of their tail feathers when the chicks are approximately three months old. The saddle or tail feathers on a pullet are rounded, and cockerels have long pointy saddles.

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  • Q:

    What is a Cornish hen?

    A:

    A Cornish hen is a chicken that was created in 1820 to combine the speed of one chicken, the English Game, with the power of the Aseel Game. The American Poultry Association recognized it as a Cornish fowl in 1910.

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  • Q:

    How much does a rooster cost?

    A:

    For individuals interested in keeping chickens for eggs, roosters have little value and are often given away for free. In 2014, a young rooster costs $5 to $15. Newly hatched chickens, half of which are roosters, can be purchased in 2014 for $3 to $5.

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  • 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.

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