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Do Chickens Have Ribs?

Do Chickens Have Ribs?

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So, do chickens have ribs? Yes! Like other vertebrates, chickens have ribs interconnected by intercostal muscles.

The muscles enable the movement of the rib cage as a whole. The dynamic rib cage participates in locomotion and allows the expiration and inspiration of the lungs.

It is always good to understand your birds as backyard chicken keepers. The first step to understanding your birds is knowing their anatomy.

If you are wondering whether or not chickens have ribs, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss everything you need to know about chicken anatomy.

Keep reading to learn more.

Backyard chickens

The Respiratory System Of a Chicken

The respiratory system of a chicken is different from that of a mammal. Mammals have a diaphragm used to inflate and deflate the lungs during breathing. Chickens have nine air sacs in their necks. 

The role of the air sacs in chickens is to inflate the lungs. They move the air in and out of the bird’s body. Chickens also have nares (nostrils in their beaks), giving air access to move within their trachea and out of their body.

The respiratory system of a chicken has two phases when it breathes. The first one is inhalation which occurs when the bird breathes the air in, just like humans.

However, the air first passes through the posterior air sacs in birds. The second phase is exhalation. It occurs when the air is released into the lungs. The air is released out of the chicken’s body through the trachea.

Bones, Legs, And Wings

Backyard chickens

One of the first things people think about chickens is their wings.

A chicken’s bones have three substances; phosphorus, calcium, and collagen. Like humans, their bones support their bodies and give them protection.

The bones should have an adequate amount of the three substances. A deficiency can lead to various health issues or even poor productivity.

For instance, low calcium can lead to your hens laying eggs with soft and weak shells. It can also lead to no shell produced at all.

In addition, low calcium amounts can result in the inability of your birds to lay eggs.

A chicken’s body has two types of bones. First, they have hollow pneumatic bones that connect to their respiratory system.

Some of the pneumatic bones are the arm bones, collar bones, pelvis, and skull.

The second type of bones is the medullary bones. They store calcium and contain bone marrow.

They include the legs, ribs, and shoulder blades. Chickens also have flexible bones within their neck and backbone.

There are about 40 bones within a hen’s spine. They help protect their skull and give them the ability to turn their heads.

The largest born in a chicken’s body is the sternum. It covers half of their bodies.

Digestive System

The digestive system of chickens is different from that of humans. First, unlike human beings, chickens do have teeth.

They have strong beaks, which they use to break food into smaller particles. When a bird swallows food, it goes directly to its crop, a storage compartment.

It temporarily holds food before it goes to the gizzard. A chicken’s crop is important because many birds take in a lot of food at once to use it in times of danger.

Like humans, birds have a stomach where digestion occurs. Enzymes mix with food in the stomach and soften it.

Once it becomes a thick-like substance, it goes through the intestines. More enzymes and proteins from the liver, stomach, and pancreas push the food substance through the digestive system.

The food substance will continue until it goes through the ceca. It will then go through tubes where water will be absorbed before it becomes waste. 

Reproductive System

We all know chickens lay eggs and have a reproductive system like any other bird. Within the eggshell, a chick has all the necessary nutrition for survival until the time to hatch.

A hen also lays one egg at a time. Most backyard hens tend to lay once a day. Chickens are usually developed when they hatch.

This means chicks can stand and walk immediately after hatching. They will also start eating within a few days after hatching.

Therefore, the mother hen does not have to care for the chicks so much after hatching. Most backyard chicken keepers even raise chicks on their own without their mothers.

A hen can lay eggs without a rooster. However, a rooster will be required for the egg to be fertile and hatch.

Roosters are usually born with two testes which produce sperm daily to fertilize as many eggs as possible. 

When a rooster and a hen mate, the sperm will sit in the hen’s oviduct for about thirty days. 

Feathers And Skin

Backyard chickens

Chicken feathers play several roles. While they seem like just a covering on a chicken’s skin, they help keep the bird healthy.

Feathers are essential for birds to fly. This is not evident in all birds as some birds, including chickens, only fly short distances.

Some breeds of chickens, such as the Jersey Giant, may not fly. Like fur in mammals, feathers in chickens help to keep them warm when it is cold.

They also help to shelter the chicken from mother nature. Since chickens do not have sweat glands, the plumage helps to cool them down in the heat. 

A chicken’s skin is also a form of insulation that helps with protection. It monitors various sensory functions of the chicken.

There are different types of skin on chickens. Scaled skin is what is on the legs and feet. The feathered skin gives the feathers direction to grow. 

The toenails and beaks of a chicken are also skin made from hardened keratin. The footpad is a type of skin that is the base of the foot. It is flexible, thicker, and tougher than other areas. 

Another type of skin in chickens is the comb and wattles. The two work together to regulate a chicken’s body temperature through blood circulation between them.

The comb comes in different sizes depending on the breed and gender of the chicken.

The base of the tail has something known as the uropygial gland or preen gland. It extracts oil that keeps the feathers in good condition. 

The claws or toenails scratch the ground to turn up bugs and seeds while the leg scales protect the underlying tissues. They have hard and strong beaks, which can be formidable when used as a weapon. 

Types Of Chicken Feathers

Here are some of the common types of feathers in chickens.


Flight feathers help chickens to fly. They are further divided into primary and secondary feathers.


Contour feathers outline the general outline of a bird.

Semi-plume feathers

Semi-plume feathers usually help with the insulation of a chicken’s body.


These feathers keep chickens warm by keeping out cold air.


If you were asking yourself whether or not chickens have ribs, you are now answered. Chickens have ribs that are essential to their bodies.

Chickens have very complex anatomy. It has parts and functions that are comparable to a human being’s anatomy.

There are also several differences between the anatomy of a chicken and that of a human. If you plan to raise chickens in your backyard, you should be aware of their anatomy.

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