Glossary of Poultry Terms

If you are new to raising chickens, some of the terms used in the poultry industry can seem overwhelming. Below you will find definitions to some of the most common words used in the industry and on our site.

  • Biosecurity – The measures taken to protect our chicks, our staff, and your flocks from contracting and spreading harmful poultry diseases.
  • Broiler – Chicken bred for meat production.
  • Broody Hen – An egg-laying hen that sits on her eggs in hopes that they will hatch.
  • Capon – Male chickens that have been castrated to improve the quality of its meat.
  • Chick – Also known as a peep, this is a newly hatched chicken.
  • Cockerel – A male chicken or rooster of any breed.
  • Egg Laying Bird – A hen whose primary purpose is to lay eggs. Our egg laying birds lay brown eggs or white eggs, depending on the breed.
  • Flock – A group of chickens living together.
  • Free Range – A method of sustainable poultry farming that allows the flock to roam free outdoors, for at least part of the day, instead of living in confinement housing.
  • Fryer – Chicken bred for meat production.
  • Hen – A mature female chicken, usually for egg laying.
  • Meat Bird – Also called a meat chicken, this is a bird that is bred and raised for its meat. Specific breeds, like our Conventional Broilers or Specialty Broilers, are selected for their rapid growth, plump meat, and texture.
  • Marek’s Disease – A common, contagious viral disease that causes mortality in poultry. Vaccination of day-old chicks prevents this disease.
  • Organic Chicken – A chicken that has been raised under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life. Chicks purchased from our hatchery are acceptable for organic production.
  • Pastured Poultry – A method of sustainable farming that allows either meat chickens or egg laying hens to forage on pasture.
  • Pullet – A female chicken, typically under one year of age.
  • Roaster – A chicken bred for meat production.
  • Rooster – A mature male chicken of any breed.
  • Sexing – The process of separating day-old chicks by gender.
  • Started Pullet – Also known as ready to lay pullets, an egg laying female that is raised to approximately 17 weeks of age. These birds will begin to lay eggs a few weeks after pick up.
  • Starter Feed – Feed specially formulated for baby chicks, giving them the right amounts of proteins, enzymes, and nutrients for the first 2-3 weeks of their lives.
  • Straight Run – Ordering day-old chicks as hatched. They are not sexed or separated by gender. On average, your order will be an approximately 50/50 split between male and female, though we cannot guarantee that.
  • Sustainable Farming – A philosophy of farming that recognizes and seeks to lessen its impact on the environment and the welfare of animals. Sustainable poultry practices include raising organic chickens and utilizing pastured poultry or free range techniques.