What Is the Difference Between a Hen and a Chicken

What Is the Difference Between a Hen and a Chicken?

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter

You must have heard some birds being referred to as hens and others referred to as chickens. I’m you probably wondered what the difference between a hen and a chicken was. Well, good news, in this article, we will explain these two poultry terminologies and outline the differences.

Let’s get started right away, shall we?

What is a Chicken?

What is a Chicken

The term chicken refers to a species of domesticated fowls that are direct descendants of the jungle fowl. The chicken is common to most farms all over the globe and is one of the most popular domestic animals on earth.

It is raised primarily for food but sometimes, chickens can be raised as pets. A person talking about chickens could be referring to any of the distinctions, some of which are roosters, hens, pullet, or capon.

What is a Hen?

What is a Hen

A hen is also a chicken, howbeit a female chicken of reproductive age. Don’t get confused; think of it this way – the term human is a collective name for male and females, old and young. The same holds for domesticated fowls. The term chicken is a broad name used to refer to them.

For clarity, a chicken is only referred to as a hen when it has started laying eggs. It may be referred to as a point of lay or a pullet until then. Usually, hens start laying eggs when they are one year old however, some breeds may start laying eggs before then.

Is a Hen a Chicken?

Yes, generally speaking, a hen is a chicken. They share the same physical and genotypic properties with the major difference being that hens lay eggs.

When you use the term hen, you could be referring to a rooster, hen, pullet, cockerel, point of lay, or even a capon. Yes, chickens are grouped into different categories based on their age, sex, and reproductive abilities.

Differences Between the Hen and a Chicken

Differences between the Hen and a Chicken

When you go to a supermarket, you will not see a processed chicken labeled as a hen. That begs the question “is there a difference between a hen and a chicken?” The answer is that hens are chickens that are capable of laying eggs.

The distinction comes in handy when you are trying to start your poultry. You will want more hens than roosters if you intend to raise the chickens for egg production. This is because hens can lay eggs without the aid of the rooster. Even if the plan is to raise them for meat, you will still need hens.

How to Tell If Your Chicken is a Hen?

It becomes easy to tell the rooster apart from the hen when your chicken reaches maturity. Here are some ways to differentiate between roosters and hens.

  • Roosters have larger combs and wattles that distinguish them from hens.
  • They also have longer and more elegant tail feathers that display their dominance and help lure the female to them during the breeding season.
  • Hens also lack spurs on their feet and are generally duller in color than roosters. 
  • Roosters have pointed feathers at the base of their necks.

Differentiating between pullets and hens on the surface is much harder. While both are sexually mature, the main difference between the pullet and the hen is that the hen has begun to lay eggs.

What are the Similarities between a Hen and a Chicken?

Hen and chicken belong to the same family of domesticated fowls. They are raised for their meat and eggs. Usually, they are found in supermarkets under the broad name “chicken.”

The chicken and hen share similar physical characteristics; they have a beak, two legs, and toes that end in claws, a tongue, comb, and wattle.

In terms of taste, most people cannot differentiate between the meat from a hen and that from a chicken. If you are looking to open poultry, you should look at the differences between hens and chickens to help you decide.

What Do Chickens Eat?

What Do Chickens Eat

Chickens are omnivores so they eat anything they see. Their food source includes meat, insects, vegetables, and bugs. They also benefit from feed fortified with herbs. Recent studies have shown that herbs like ginger help stimulate egg-laying in hens and boost their immune system.

Chickens can leave with proper nutrition and care for up to 10 years. The actual lifespan of the chicken is also dependent on its breed.


Most people use the term hen and chicken loosely to refer to domesticated fowls. However, there are some differences between the hen and the chicken. The first is that all hens are chickens but not all chickens are hens. Please read our article to understand the differences between a hen and a chicken.

About Author (Pauline G. Carter)

Pauline G. Carter

Pauline G. Carter is a well-known pet blogger who has written about the world of pets for several years. She is passionate about pets, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles, and poultry. Her blog, which is updated regularly, is filled with articles and guides on pet care, nutrition, and training. She also shares her experiences and observations on pet ownership, making her blog relatable and informative for pet lovers. She is a true animal advocate and is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership. Let’s Go …

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