Quick Guide to Poultry Terms

Do you know any other terms we haven’t included? Let us know, and we’ll add them in.


  • Bantam - Mini version of the larger breeds, being approximately one quarter the size
  • Battery Hen - female bird housed in intensive egg production unit
  • Broiler - Young (normally eight weeks old) male or female birds weighing 3 to 3.5lbs (1.36kg - 1.59kgs) especially bred in huge quantities for the meat market. Sold as male, female or as 'hatched'; with a potentially good food conversion and quick finishing facility
  • Broody - female bird who ceases to lay and shows willingness to sit on eggs and rear offspring
  • Cob - Male bird kept for eating
  • Cockerel - A male bird older than four weeks up to sexual maturity at about five months
  • Cock Bird - Male over 12 months of age, kept usually for breeding purposes - Larger than a broiler, weighing up to seven pounds(3.17 kg). Formerly a cockerel which has had its male characteristics changed by hormone implantation at about five months or surgical operation at about eight weeks
  • Chick - baby bird of either sex
  • Chicken - Strictly, male or female chicks up to their first birthday. Commonly used to refer to all ages
  • Free range - Birds raised in conditions of complete freedom as to foraging, rest, bathing, feeding and nesting
  • Fowl - Domestic Cock or Hen Bird kept for eggs or meat
  • Grower Pellets - The poultry feed equivalent to weaner pellets - suitable for fast growing juvenile birds
  • Heavy Breed - any breed in which the female hen averages more than 2.48kg at maturity
  • Hen - Female bird over one year old
  • Layer Pellets - Poultry food suitable for birds producing large numbers of eggs
  • Light Breed - opposite to heavy breed
  • Moult - Changes of feathers once a year, usually in the autumn, related to changes in hormones thought to be triggered by changes in light levels. Hens stop laying for eight to 12 weeks at a time. Molting may occur at other times if there is feed stress
  • Pullet - Young female bird of 12 months or less (up to first moult)
  • Point of Lay - Pullets which are approaching the time they will lay their first egg
  • Warren hen/Spent hen - hens during and after first moult (no longer used commercially)


Turkey specific

  • Stag - male bird
  • Hen - Female bird
  • Geese specific
  • Gander - male bird
  • Goose - female bird
  • Gosling – youngster


Duck specific

  • Drake - male bird
  • Duck - female bird
  • Duckling - youngster