Chicken keeping is a common practice among many people in the United States as well as across the world. Some backyard chicken keepers choose to rear a few chickens while others keep several. You might have come across a bunch of chickens and wondered what do you call a group of hens? Keep reading to learn more.
A Group of Hens
A group of hens is commonly known as a brood. Some people may also refer to a group of hens as a flock. Although it can be fine to use the term too, to refer to several hens in a group, the term flock largely means a group of both female and male chickens.
The correct term, therefore, is brood. It means a group of female chickens (hens) specifically.
If you are a backyard chicken keeper, here are some other important terms used to describe chickens that you should know:
A chick is a young or baby chicken and can be either female or male. Once chicks develop feathers, they will become pullets or roosters, depending on whether they are female or male.
The term rooster refers to mature male chicken. You can also refer to it as cock. Roosters are mature enough to fertilize an egg. You can also identify roosters quickly in your flock because of their large wattles and combs. Besides, they are generally aggressive.
A cockerel is a male chicken that has not yet matured. Cockerels can not fertilize an egg.
Capon is a term that is used to refer to a neutered rooster.
Clutch or peep
A clutch or peep refers to a group of chicks at a young age.
What is a Pullet?
The term pullet in poultry keeping refers to a young hen. Pullets are mature chicks or simply young hens that are still maturing. Mostly, they are usually less than one year old.
A pullet is usually older than a chick, meaning she should have shed her baby down and is still growing feathers. The easiest way to classify a chicken as a pullet is by considering the egg-laying factor. A pullet should not have laid eggs before. Hens, on the other hand, are mature female chickens that have started laying eggs.
Chickens start laying their eggs when they are about 18 to 20 weeks of age. This means a pullet should likely be around the age of 17 weeks or 18 weeks at most. Some backyard chicken keepers may delay the sexual maturity of their pullets in order to push back the production of their first egg.
Delaying the sexual maturity of your pullets will ensure that they grow bigger. As a result, they will produce bigger eggs when they are mature enough and start laying. It is good for one to wait for their pullet to weigh at least 3 lbs before laying eggs. You can achieve this by controlling the amount of light that your pullet will be exposed to in a day.
If you expose your pullet to about 13 hours of light in a day, it will eventually trigger her sexual maturity. As a result, the pullet will start producing eggs shortly after.
Point of Lay Hen
The term point is used to describe a pullet or a young hen that is approaching the age when she will start laying eggs. The “name point of lay” means the point of laying eggs.
It can be very hard to establish when exactly a hen is the point of lay chicken. There are many factors that may determine the time when a hen may start laying eggs. Such factors that may affect the period that a chicken will be a point of lay include health condition, breed, and environmental conditions.
As stated earlier, chickens can start laying their first eggs at the age of about 18 weeks to 22 weeks. This means that if you buy a point of lay chicken from a breeder, you will have to wait just for a few days before they can start laying their first eggs.
At this age, hens will not have fully developed their combs as well as their wattles yet. You can therefore differentiate a pullet from a mature hen by looking at the wattles or comb too.
Brooder or Broody Hen
As the name suggests, a broody hen or brooder is a mature hen that has laid and is looking after the eggs. This means that the hen will be sitting on her eggs to protect them throughout. Broody hens do not know whether the eggs are fertilized or not. Besides, the hen will tend to be slightly moody and a bit aggressive when she is in a broody mood.
How to End Up with Broody Hens
It is easier to let your hen sit on a nest and hatch eggs than using an incubator. The hen will act as a brooder box as well after the eggs have hatched. There will therefore be no need for electricity to keep your chicks safe and warm.
The hen will also introduce chicks to feeding as well as to the rest of the flock. The advantages of allowing your hens to sit on the nest for eggs to hatch are many compared to using an incubator.
Although you can not force your hens to sit on their eggs, you can try to encourage them. Here are a few ways to end up with broody hens:
Choose Broody Breeds
If you want to keep broody hens in your flock, the easiest way is to choose a breed of chicken that tends towards being broody. Some of the common breeds of chickens that tend to be broody include Cochins, Silkies, Buff Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Australorps.
Leaving Dummy Eggs in the Nest
You can encourage your hens to go broody by leaving a few eggs in their laying nests. Dummy eggs may include plastic Easter eggs, smooth stones, or golf balls. They can act well as real eggs and will not be broken by your hens.
They will encourage hens to start sitting on the nest. Once the hen is committed to sitting on the dummy eggs, you can replace them with the real eggs.
Provide a Private Nesting Area
Another way of encouraging the broody nature of your hens is by providing them with a safe and dark place where they can sit on their eggs without disturbance. To convince her that a nest is a secret place where she can raise chicks, you can hang curtains across the front part of the nesting box.
Include some Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy involves adding some herbs to the nest box of your hens. You can use calming herbs like chamomile and lavender, which can help the hen to relax and feel secure and safe.
Put Water and Feed Nearby
You should ensure that there is a good supply of clean water as well as feed near your nests. A broody hen will more likely sit on the nest if she does not go far to look for feed and water. If you provide them with the two, they will have an easy time moving out of the nest to feed and drink and then going back.
Taking Care of your Hens
Rearing hens comes with a wide variety of advantages. If you are keeping a group of hens, you will have to take care of them. This will ensure that their productivity is high.
Here are a few tips on how you can take care of hens:
Providing a constant supply of clean water
Water is essential for the wellbeing and general health of your hens. It is therefore important to supply them with fresh and clean water all the time. You should replace their water right away if there is any slime or debris in the drinker.
Lack of enough water supply will make your hens dehydrated and eventually lead to various illnesses or even death of the hen, especially during summer.
Feed the Hens
You must ensure that your hens are eating enough in a day. A hen can consume, in a day, about 120 grams of feed. You can reduce the amount of food you are giving them if they do not finish up what you are giving them in a day.
Most of your hens’ diet must come from a formulated feed so that they get all the required nutrients. In addition, you can give them plenty of vegetables and fruits. If they are laying, you must ensure that they are provided with enough calcium.
There is no doubt that you will be collecting several eggs if you are keeping a group of hens in your coop. You should collect eggs about two times a day. During exceptionally cold or hot weather, you can collect more frequently in a day.
Collecting eggs on a regular basis will ensure that they remain fresh and clean. It will also minimize the chances of eggs cracking inside the nest because of hen traffic. If the eggs are not collected from the coop, some hens will likely get broody.
A group of hens is known as a brood. If you are a chicken keeper, you should know all the terms in poultry. For an increase in productivity, it is important to take care of your hens.