Differences between chicken, rooster, hen, …

The difference between chicken and rooster is profound.

The chicken is in fact a generic term for the species Gallus gallus domesticus: a young bird (male or female) derived from various wild species of Asiatic origin. Its existence is documented as far back as 4,000 B.C. in the Indus plain from which, via Persia, it first reached Greece and then Europe. Today’s domestic chicken is the result of crossbreeding of various species that have developed over the centuries.

Chickens have always been bred for different purposes: for their meat, their eggs and feathers, as pets, to compete in cockfights, for religious reasons, for sporting or ornamental competitions.

Different names are used to describe the various types of birds:

  • Chick, less than 7 days old
  • Chicken, young bird grown for meat production (broiler) up to 12 weeks of age.
  • Cockerel, young male before sexual maturity (< 20-25 weeks of age)
  • Pullet, young female before sexual maturity (< 20-25 weeks of age)
  • Hen, a sexually mature female that has begun to lay eggs (> 20-25 weeks of age)
  • Mother hen, a hen that broods her eggs until hatching
  • Capon, the male that is castrated at around two months of age
  • Rooster or cock, sexually mature male (> 20-25 weeks of age)


How to recognise a rooster from a chicken

A rooster has a red, fleshy comb, two wattles under the ears. In coloured breeds, the plumage and tail are showy and often very colourful with shades between blue and orange. Females of the same age are unassuming. In white breeds, the rooster and hen feathers remain white. The rooster tends to have an aggressive behaviour, instinctively inclined to take up the defence of its territory.

The chicken, due to its younger age and not having reached sexual maturity has a milder behaviour. The colour of its feathers depends on the parents.


  • The wild Bankiva is the ancestor of many domestic breeds.
  • Chickens are omnivorous.


Gallus gallus. (2023, October 1). In Wikipedia. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallus_gallus photo by Francesco Veronesi from Italy – IMG_5008, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47310294



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