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Hen Vs Chicken: All the Differences

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There are many hens vs chicken comparisons out there, but we want to make sure you know the truth. Hens are generally female chickens that are old enough to lay eggs, while chicken is basically a broader term that is given to hens, roosters, etc. These two terms can be very confusing & often people are mistaken when referring to any of these. So we will look over some distinct differences to clear up this doubt.

What is a Hen?

an old Hen

A hen is a female chicken that has reached maturity. Hens and chickens are two creatures that many people know about, but may not understand the difference between hen and chicken. Chickens are domesticated birds while hens are females of any species of bird living in a domestic situation.

The hen is distinguished from the rooster because she does not have a cock's comb or wattles, but her head is more round than an average chicken. Hens lay eggs for consumption by humans and other animals whereas roosters do not lay eggs at all.

What is a Chicken?

a Chicken

Chickens are the male and female of the species Gallus Domesticus, which also includes other varieties of chickens. Chickens can be either wild-type or domesticated breeds selectively bred for meat or egg production. The word "chicken" may refer to young chickens at any stage of development; adult males are known as roosters and females as hens with chicks being called poults during their first month after hatching from eggs.

Key differences between Hen & Chicken

The difference in reference

The major difference between both Hen & Chicken lies in how people refer to them. While Hen is just a female chicken that lays eggs a chicken on the other hand is a wide & broad term that is used for any domesticated fowl. So, if you are ever in doubt just remember that a Hen is specifically called as such because it lays eggs while a Chicken can be either male or female.

The difference in how they are used

While Hens are used specifically for egg production, Chickens are widely used as meat birds. The commercial chicken meat industry prefers to use younger chickens (meat-type chicks) because they have a higher yield of dressed weight than hens. So if you're looking to get eggs or eat some good old-fashioned fried chicken then make sure you know which one you're getting!

The difference in their appearance

Hens usually have smaller combs and wattles than Chickens. This is primarily due to the fact that Hens don't grow as large or produce as much muscle mass as Chickens do. In addition, Hens tend to have more feathering around their neck and chest which gives them a fluffy appearance. But keep in mind that Hens can be called chickens too! And this is where it gets confusing. But in general, Hens are referred to as separate in comparison to chickens.

Hens lay eggs while other chickens don't

Another difference between hens and chickens is how they lay their eggs - this is something to consider if you're thinking about owning either one or the other! Hens will generally start laying around five months after hatching whereas other chickens cannot.

Similarities between Hen & Chicken

The biggest similarity between hen and chicken is that they are both birds. This means that both of these animals have the same bones, feathers, beaks, feet, and wings as a standard bird would. They also belong to the same biological family, the Gallus gallus species.


How to distinguish between the gender of newly born chickens?

Females of the G. gallus species are called hens while males are known as roosters or cocks for short. Science has shown that there is no real way to distinguish between a cock and a hen until they become at least a few weeks old. In some cases, even then it's hard to tell if you don't know what gender your bird will end up being! Hens have more small but fluffy bodies than roosters do because of their egg-laying organs inside of them rather than testes like in adult cocks.

Physical characteristics are another way to distinguish between a hen and cock. Roosters have very distinct red combs on top of their heads, while hens will not have this same type of comb or wattle as they are called. Hens also have rounder bodies than the more triangular-shaped rooster body shape. The tail feathers of cocks can be longer than those found on most hens, but that doesn't mean all chickens don't grow long tails! Some breeds just naturally sport shorter ones even in adulthood.

Is a hen better than a rooster?

There is no simple answer to this question as it depends on what you are looking for in your bird. Generally speaking, hens lay eggs and can be good pets for families with children. Roosters have a bit of a bad reputation because they can sometimes be aggressive and protective of their territory, but with the right training, they can make great pets too!

Is a hen a turkey or chicken?

Hens are part of the same bird family as turkeys, but they should be classified as a chicken & not turkeys in general.

How to tell if a hen or a chicken is sick?

It's very hard for an untrained eye to determine whether or not your chicken is healthy just by looking at it. The best thing you can do in order to know what is going on with your bird is to keep a close eye on its behavior. Are your hens eating and drinking like normal? Is she staying in her nesting area or roaming around the yard? If you notice any sudden changes in your hen's habits, it might be time to take her to the vet for a check-up.


This blog post has provided you with definitions of hen and chicken. It’s important to know the difference between these two words, as they are often used interchangeably in texts and conversations. Hopefully, this article was helpful and informative! So, the next time you are in the market for a backyard bird, be sure to do your research and decide which gender will best fit your needs. Thank you for reading!


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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