Understandably, some of us raise chickens in our homes without actually understanding the difference between a hen and a chicken. In all honesty, their differences might appear like a ‘no-brainer’ at a glance. These two terms are typically used arbitrarily – but what actually sets them apart?
In this snippet, we focus on a hen vs. chicken and their endearing little ways.
Hen vs. Chicken – The Mystery Explained
Soon after a female chicken lays her first egg she can be seen as a hen. In this discussion, we can use a chicken’s breastbone to benchmark the transition from a young female chicken to a hen. A young female chicken (known as a pullet) often sports a soft cartilage, and no sane rooster will have the guts to woo and court her. As she grows older – often in a few weeks or months – the breastbone will start to become stiff and hard.
At this stage, the young female chicken transitions into a hen, and she will be able to attract the rooster’s eyes. The rooster will start wooing and courting her. She will now be called a hen, and will be old enough to lay healthy eggs. A healthy hen can lay eggs depending on her cycle – she has absolutely no control over it.
Healthy hens will often lay eggs through their first year and cease as soon as their first molt kicks in. After her feathers are grown, she will continue laying eggs for a couple more years until she hits her old age. As to when the hen stops laying eggs is dependent upon the breed as well as the individual hen.
More often than not, heritage hens tend to lay eggs through to their third or fourth year, whereas hybrids may continue egg laying until their third year. Under some circumstances, some hens may continue laying eggs sporadically after their fourth year – but not always the case for most of them.
Applicable to the Principle of Humans
When a chicken transitions into a hen is comparable to when a girl grows to become an adult woman. Generally, “chickens” can be said to be a certain kind of species within the bird family, just the same way humans are a specific type of species within the class of mammals. Chickens are classified the same way humans are divided as female and male or adults and children.
Within this context, we can liken an adult man to a rooster and an adult woman to a hen. Even while all of them are chickens, their names specify their gender and whether they are young or adults. Let’s take a good example of a young girl.
When a young girl grows into adulthood – often above 18 years of age – she becomes a fully-fledged adult woman. At this age, she becomes ready to copulate and get pregnant. She will now give birth to children who will continue the cycle, from childhood to adulthood.
For the record, a young male human is called a boy, whereas a young male chicken is known as a cockerel. A young female human is called a girl, while a young female chicken is a pullet.
Hopefully, now you understand the difference between a hen and a chicken. Most chicken aficionados have no idea about the meaning of these terms. The next time someone asks you what hen vs. chicken is, don’t hesitate to explain to them in plain and white.