In this article, I will try to make things as simple as the topic itself is.
Are hen and chicken two different species?
Or are they the same?
I am sure we all know it’s not that confusing.
Although it’s not confusing, it’s a question that needs clarification. Most of the time we end up using Hen and chicken as alternate terms.
Let us understand this aspect in detail. What is a hen, and what’s a chicken?
It’s pretty simple. Meanwhile, people who are used to raising hens or chickens might be already finding this question silly. But never mind!
A hen is what we call a female chicken, just like a male chicken is called a rooster.
Chicken is simply the name called for domesticated fowls.
Well, this is the basics. I won’t suggest you stop by learning just the above two lines.
Why not know more?
If you are in, let’s begin knowing both hen and chicken a little further.
What is Chicken?
A Google search would tell you a detailed description of what exactly chicken species are. You can also look for the subspecies along with scientific names and categories.
But in general, just like we call ourselves human, which includes both men and women, exactly the similar way, Hen and rooster are two genders whom we call chicken. Therefore, chicken isn’t gendered specific at all.
If you notice, we may call a rooster, a chicken, at the same time we also call a hen, a chicken.
That’s true and fair. But next time you can be more appropriate by being aware of the difference.
Little History of Chickens
Chickens were first domesticated in the form of a wild species called Red jungle fowl around 8000 years ago. They originated from East Asia. These species are considered as the ancestors of today’s domestic chickens. The domestic chickens we often see originated from India and western Asia in ancient times.
However, the past of chicken before that is unclear, but it’s believed that a species was first discovered in Greece during the first decade of the fifth century.
Although now, chickens have become a popular domestic species across the globe known for their eggs and meat, many archeologists believe that they were first used for cockfighting. It does sound interesting, right?
This sport was the main reason for the distribution and domestication of fowls around the world. Later on, realization regarding their use in terms of other categories led to specialized breeding. And that’s why we see them in different sizes, colors, and varied features.
Female chickens over one year are called hens, while female chicks below one year are called Pullets.
Male chickens with an age over one year are the Roosters, and below that are called cockerels.
It has been noticed that the location matters when it comes to the names. For instance, Roosters in the UK and Ireland are known as Cocks.
Some of the other major terms used to recognize types of chickens include:
- Broiler: Chickens raised for meat are called Broilers. They mostly weigh around 2 to 4 pounds. Broilers are 8 to 12 weeks old.
- Baton: It’s the best known domestic chicken especially known as a diminutive breed. It’s even less than half the size of a regular chicken.
- Boiler: A chicken who has reached a mature stage when it is 8 or 9 months
- Straight run chickens: Straight run chickens are those that are a mix of hatched male and female chickens.
- Broody hen: Types of hens that are especially capable of brooding, and taking care of the chicks
What is Hen?
Now when we have learned what chickens exactly are about, it would be much easier to simplify hens. Like roosters being the male chicken, hens are the female chickens that are over one year of age.
Because of their gender characteristics, they are mostly used for eggs. However, hens have dual purpose quality unlike roosters, who are used for meat.
There are different breeds of chicken that are raised specifically for meat and eggs.
Breeds like Leghorn, Golden Comet, Lohmann chicken, Plymouth rock chicken, Ameraucana, Sussex are some well-known hens known for their egg-laying qualities, While Jersey giants and Cornish cross are good for meat production.
There’s a whole course involved in how hens lay eggs, and what it takes for the egg layering process.
Many eggs start laying eggs once they are 18 weeks. Good breeds, from then on, will start laying one egg a day. This also depends on various factors like climate, location, feed, etc. Like the breeds appropriate for winter may take time to start layering, while the spring breeds lay eggs in early stages itself.
Hen do not necessarily need a rooster to lay eggs as they have a natural function to lay unfertilized eggs without any contact to its opposite gender. However, using roosters to fertilize eggs is a common method to obtain chicks. After the fertilization of the egg, it indeed goes through a long process of incubation for the successful development of chicks. This includes the brooding process where the hen provides warmth to eggs so that they can hatch in 21 days. Poultry farmers also prefer to use incubators replacing broody hens.
Little history of Hen
We already know about the domestication of fowls leading to the current generation of chickens, but what exactly made the hens relevant for their eggs is not less interesting at all.
In the early 20th century, amidst the world war, In America hens were already beginning to be taken care of by the mothers and daughters who stayed at home taking care of the farms. However, for men starting a poultry farm was a more liberating form of profession.
Slowly, this changed as livestock agriculture took a major turn with various technological advances and farm equipment. During the 1920s and 30s, experiments and scientific revelations on egg layering made it a prominent form of poultry farming. different breeds of hens and chicken were crossbred and mixed to gain maximum productivity, and a great result.
There’s no doubt in saying that chickens, or moreover egg-laying hens were the first domesticated birds raised in such large numbers, especially for commercial use.
What does it take to raise Hens or Chickens?
If you are here to read the difference between hen and chicken, I am sure there’s a potential reason behind it. Ain’t it?
If it is the case, I wonder if it would be basically about raising hens or chickens in your backyard.
It is a great idea to have a good source of protein for food consumption just by raising chicken in your small backyard, whether it’s about focusing on hens for eggs or the roosters for their meat.
Let’s know what are the few important things to take care of while raising chickens in your backyard.
- If you have a farm it would become much easier to raise hens or chicken. But if you belong to a major city area, it’s a bit of extra work. You cannot simply make your backyard a small egg layering farm. There are rules in a city zone, like understanding the ordinances to raise chicken will be helpful.
- Once that is done, make sure that you must have enough time to raise them. I am sure you have already taken out time at least for the initial part of raising them.
- Ensure that the chicken or hens don’t cause much trouble to your neighbors. As these birds are quite noisy. In this case, hens are the best to have because they won’t crow like roosters.
- Prepare a moderately large coop for your hens. If you are purchasing chicks, it would be far better. It will buy you some time until you can plan to set up a good shelter.
- You can start building the home for your chicks once they are close to 2 months.
- Look for a coop design with ample room for your chicks to roam around.
- You can easily find a good quality coop online, or else you can prepare a plan that suits your imagination of good housing for your chicks. This will give you a better on buying the right type of coop.
- Once the chickens are set to live in their new house, their protection must be highly considered. As wandering predators can make them their food easily. Build wires or fences around the coop for their safety. Investing in wooden borders will be beneficial.
- After they are settled, let them eat well with good quality grains and formulated feeds.
- Hens or chickens are good at foraging. So major nutrients can be imbibed from those sources around you.
I hope you have got a better understanding of what Chicken and hens are all about, moreover the difference between them.
About the Author
Farm Animals Guide
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive all of the latest news and articles directly to your inbox.