Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Meri Gasem
The cute little birds are more than an Easter pet, and everyone seems to refer to them differently – so what do you call a baby chicken? Does gender mather with the tiny birds, or is something else the deciding point? First, let’s clear up the confusion.
All baby chickens start out as chicks and get named differently when they start growing. Some names are used strictly by professional farmers and breeders, while other callings are simply jargon. Mainly how is a baby chicken called depends on the gender and how old it is at that moment.
Baby Chicken: Chicks, Peeps, Or Pullets?
Do you remember “Peeps” the Easter candy? That’s also how baby chickens are called along with chicks. When getting your first baby chickens, you’re not skilled enough to determine their gender or proper classification. So while these names are not wrong, they’re more vast.
Baby chickens, either male or female, are born with down. Once they start to develop feathers, they can get different names. The first feathers appear when the chickens are 6 to 8 days old. By the time they’re 4 weeks old, they have a full set of feathers. This is the teenage period of the chicken, so the female are now called pullets and the male are cockerels.
Gendering Baby Chickens
All baby chickens were called chicks until they were several weeks old since farmers couldn’t tell them apart. It wasn’t until 1930 when the western world learned how to tell apart male from female baby chickens. The method called vent sexing was discovered in 1920 in Japan and published in English in 1933. The mass education on gendering day-old chicks started in 1934, and it has a success rate of 90-95%.
How Old Are Young Hens
After passing the chick to pullet or cockerel phase, then comes the maturing period. A chicken that’s a year old or more old is called a hen – but what are young hens?
This is more of a local term, a lingo used by some breeders in certain areas, than an official terminology. A chicken has to be at least a year old to be called a hen. But in this connotation, a young hen is a name used for female chickens at the very end of their pullet phase.
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Can Pullets Lay Eggs
Young hens or pullets that have been provided proper care can start laying eggs when they’re 16 to 24 weeks old. Once you notice they have fully grown feathers, with deep red color on their wattles and combs, you can expect some eggs soon. Try to provide a suitable nesting place with some more privacy for them.
But don’t grow your expectations! The first eggs that a young hen lays are tiny, gem-like but will get bigger as she matures.
The Lifespan Of Hens
Hens are most productive when they’re one to two years old. After they go over the two-year mark, the egg production will slow down. However, they may continue to lay occasionally until they’re 5 years old.
Industrial hens rarely make it over 3 years, but homegrown chicken can live up to 20 years with proper food and care.
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Other Names For Chickens You Didn’t Know
You might be surprised at the fact that there are so many ways to call a baby chicken. They mainly depend on the area and the person you talk to. Farmers with years of experience under their belt tend to use more specific names.
Hen and rooster are the basic terms we use for a male and female chicken, but not throughout their whole life. Therefore, these names are reserved for fully grown chickens only.
Brood is a name for baby chickens that hatched simultaneously, and the hen that takes care of them is broody. Juveniles or juvenile chickens is a term used for both pullets and cockerels.
Farmers also sell started pullet or point-of-lay pullets. These are 4 to 5 months old chickens that are almost ready to lay eggs.
Capon is a neutered rooster, and biddy is an old name for female chicken – hens or pullets. A flock is a group of chickens that live together.
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Baby Chickens Molt
In fact, chickens molt every year, and it’s one of the trickiest parts of their life. The feathers protect them, help them regulate their temperature. The first mini-molts happen once they’re 4 weeks old. After that, they lose the soft fluffy down and get big bird feathers. The grand molt occurs at 18 weeks of age when they change their feathers completely.
Then each fall, they start their seasonal molt. You’ll notice it’s started once your garden looks like a pillow has exploded!
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Concluding How Is A Baby Chicken Called
To determine the correct name, you have to consider both the age and the gender of the chicken. The chicken is a baby for the first 16 weeks of its life. A broody will lay over the eggs until they hatch and become brood. If you have several chicks hatched at the same time, they’re broods. A newly hatched chicken is a chick or peep until you determine its sex.
From 16 to 20 weeks old, the chickens are no longer babies and enter adolescence. They then become juveniles: pullets or cockerels. This phase is the final one before laying eggs.
So eventually, you can call a baby chicken any of the names you find suitable. However, the generic hen and rooster are reserved for mature chickens.
Bottom Line: How To Call A Baby Chicken Properly
Still, having doubts about how to call a baby chicken? It’s simple – once it’s hatched, it’s brood, chick, or peep. Once you get to know the gender and the chick enters adolescence, it’s pullet or cockerel accordingly.
Chickens that are a year old are considered mature and called hens and rosters. Some even call female chickens of all ages biddy.
Different states, areas, and farmers have different names, but don’t let that confuse you.
What is a baby chicken called in your area? Would you consider keeping chicks?
Mary is a passionate gardener who loves spending her days getting her hands dirty and nurturing her plants. She‘s an avid reader of gardening magazines and is always looking for new ways to make her garden thrive. When not outside tending to her plants, Mary can be found inside reading up on the latest gardening trends, comparing notes with fellow gardeners, and finding the perfect pottery planter for her next planting project.