Chicken vs. Hen vs. Pullet vs. Cock vs. Cockerel vs. Rooster vs. Capon

What is the difference between chicken, hen, pullet, cock, cockerel, rooster and capon?

The words chicken, hen, pullet, cock, cockerel, rooster and capon are all names for one bird – namely the chicken. They each refer to different ages and stages of growth. A baby chicken is called a chick and a male of the species is a cock or a cockerel, depending on how old it is. A female is called a hen or a pullet. The age at which a cockerel becomes a cock and a pullet becomes a hen is hard to narrow down because it depends on the species. Generally cockerel and pullet are used for those birds that are less than a year old.

After a year, a female chicken is called a hen and a male is called a cock. This is because this is the time when females start to produce eggs. A cock becomes a rooster when it has matured sexually. Sometimes roosters have to be castrated and then they are called capons. Because people new to the poultry business sometimes have difficulty telling the difference between hens and cocks, there are ways you can distinguish between them.

Comb and Wattle

The comb is the tuft of flesh that you see on the head of a chicken. A rooster has a much larger comb than a hen. It is also bright red, while the comb on a hen is smaller and paler in color. The reason for the bright comb is for the rooster to be able to attract the hen’s attention.

The wattle is the flesh that is hanging from under the chin. On a rooster this is also larger and brighter than it is on a hen.

Color and Size

A rooster has brighter colors than a hen and is much larger. The feathers of a rooster are also longer, but those of a hen are thicker.

Tail feathers

A rooster’s tail feathers are longer and brighter than those of hens. The tail and the neck feathers are the main ways of differentiating between a hen and a cock.

Crowing

Roosters are the only ones that crow. Hens make a clucking sound. The crowing sound is the way in which the roosters assert their territory. A chicken that crows will grow up to be a rooster.

Sociability

Roosters are very aggressive birds. They rule the roost and dominate the hens, who are timid and afraid. On the other hand, roosters can be friendly with humans and are mainly only aggressive with other roosters.

Egg

It is easy to tell the difference between hens and roosters once they start laying eggs. You will only be able to collect eggs from hens because they are the females.