Some Basic Chicken Facts

I love to talk about my chickens at work. My full time job keeps me very busy and chickens are part of the antidote to my stress. Chickens are truly pets with benefits. They amuse me to no end with their silly antics and chicken behavior.

Often when I am chatting about my chickens to co-workers, vendors, and anyone else who shows interest, I realize how little the general public knows about chickens. Here are some basic chicken facts that you may find interesting.

    1. Grown male chickens are roosters, young males are cockerels.
    2. Grown female chickens are hens, young females are pullets.
    3. Hens lay eggs regardless of whether there is a rooster to breed with. She will lay unfertilized eggs without a rooster. Commercial eggs are typically unfertilized because roosters are not considered useful to commercial farmers.
    4. Good roosters are very chivalrous. They will protect hens by crowing and grandstanding to warn off potential threats. Our rooster Lincoln crows in response to the coyotes howling as if to tell them “back off!”. If a stray dog comes around, he is at the fence facing it down while sounding the alarm.
    5. Lincoln also looks for food and always makes sure the hens eat first. He will inspect potential meals and enthusiastically call the hens while picking up and dropping the food to show them where it is. One Saturday morning I put out some special food for the chickens. This always creates a big scene as our rooster calls for the hens and they come running over. One hen had just finished laying an egg and came running out of the coop. Our rooster picked up a piece of food and ran over to her with it, dropping it at her feet. What a great guy!
    6. Hens lay eggs in the nesting boxes, but sleep on the roost.

      Hens on the Roost
      Hens sleep on a roost, not in the nesting box, unless she is “broody”.
    7. A hen will only stay on the nest if she is “broody”. This means she is hormonal and wanting to hatch her eggs. Hens are not broody most of the time.
    8. Hens share the same nesting box. She will lay the egg and then leave the nesting box for another hen to use. Often one nesting box becomes a favorite and hens will wait to use that one rather than use an empty nesting box right next to it!
      IMG_7539
      Hen share their nesting boxes and will often wait for their favorite one.

      When setting up a coop, you do not need to have a nesting box for every hen. We have 10 hens and 4 nesting boxes. The girls usually only use two or three of them.

I used stacking plastic bins for nesting boxes. They are easy to clean and can be relocated when you want to rearrange the coop. A set of three, like these from Amazon cost about $64 including shipping and last for years! Akro-Mils 13017 Stak-N-Store Stacking Hopper Front Plastic Storage Bin, Grey, Case of 3

  1. Chicken coops do not have to be cleaned every day or even every week. We use the deep litter method by adding an additional layer of pine shavings each week for several months. It keeps the coop smelling like fresh pine while keeping the coop insulated and creates some great filler for the compost when it is time to clean out.

If you have some additional basic facts to add, please comment below. I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you learned anything new!

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