POULTRY 101

CHICKENS

All the different breeds of chickens that exist today can trace their origins back to the Red Jungle Fowl of East Asia. Through generations of genetic selection, specialized breeds have been developed for meat (broilers) and eggs (layers). There are also dual-purpose breeds that are reasonably good in both meat and egg production, but not as good as the breeds specialized for those specific purposes.

Vocabulary

There are different types of combs including:

Single comb The most common is the single comb
Rose comb Rose comb
Cushion comb Cushion comb
Buttercup comb Buttercup comb
V-comb V-shaped comb

Other combs include the pea comb and the strawberry comb.

A common question is "How can you tell the difference between a male and female chicken?" There are distinct differences in adult chickens (known as sexual dimorphism) related to comb and wattle size, size of spurs, and type and shape of feathers.

Black Australorp hen

Female Black Australorp

  • Smaller comb and wattles
  • Smaller spur
  • Hackle feathers are more pointed
Black Australorp male

Male Black Australorp

  • Larger comb and wattles
  • Larger spurs with size varying by age
  • Hackle feathers are longer and pointed
  • Has long, pointed sickle feathers that cover the main tail feathers
  • Has long, pointed saddle feathers over the back

It is much harder to sex young chicks, especially at hatch.

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