So how do you know if your chicken is a rooster or a hen? Is it really that important to know which is which? Well if you’re planning on having a flock, then you might want to know the differences between the two.
A hen is a female gallinaceous bird. The term ‘hen’ was derived from the Old English ‘henn’, which was derived from the West Germanic ‘hannjo’ (female fowl). As with the rooster having a term for its younger self, a young hen also has its own term, known as pullet. While again ‘hen’ may refer to other fowl species, it usually pertains to a female chicken.
A hen is usually not the crowing type, it instead cackles when laying eggs and uses special sounds to lure its chicks. However, it is known that a hen will crow once in a while. Unlike roosters who usually are more aloof as they mature, a hen is known to be a ‘warming-up-to-others’ type of chicken.
Rooster vs Hen
What’s the difference between a rooster and a hen? Clearly, as mentioned above, a rooster is a male chicken and a hen is its female counterpart. But while gender is their main difference, there are other differences that are noteworthy.
Starting with their feathers, a rooster has neck feathers and back feathers that are usually pointed. A hen however has rounded feathers along its neck. The tail on a rooster also can be a distinguishing factor. It has a curve to it and is often longer. Also, while both have combs (small bit of flesh above their heads), and wattles (soft flesh hanging from the side of their beaks), the ones on the males are more prominent. Their spurs (feet) are more prominent in a rooster, sharper even.
Just like with many fowls, the male chicken has feathers that are brighter and more vibrant -they often have beautiful blue and green highlights. A rooster’s feathers also have a shinier look, as it has oil glands that help it preen its feathers. Finally, and you already probably know this, a rooster is built bigger than a hen.
|Male fowl||Female fowl|
|Longer, fuller tails||Shorter tails|
|Have spurs (More prominent)||Have spurs|
|Have wattles (More prominent)||Have wattles|
|Have combs (More prominent)||Have combs|
|Usually are larger||Usually are smaller|
|Often crows||Rarely crows|
|Does not lay an egg||Lays an egg|
|Colorful bright shiny feathers||Less colorful feathers|