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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chicken Anatomy 101

Use these diagrams to help you learn more about Hen and Rooster anatomy.

Illustration by Tom Kimball

Backyard chickens may be small, but every element of them is important. Learn all that you can about your roosters and hens, from their combs to their toes and every feather in between, with the help of these chicken-anatomy diagrams.

Chicken Stats

Use these quick facts to better understand how your chickens operate.

By Audrey Pavia

Courtesy Hemera/Thinkstock

Chicken Physiology

  • Life span: 10 to 11 years
  • Heart rate: 220 to 360 beats per minute
  • Respiratory rate: 12 to 37 breaths per minute
  • Temperature: 103.6 to 109.9 degrees F
  • Water intake: 210 to 400 milliliters per day
  • Urine volume: 100 to 200 milliliters per kilogram of weight per day
  • Gastrointestinal transit time: Approximately 4 hours
  • Blood volume: 6 to 12 milliliters per 1/10 kilogram of weight

Chicken Reproduction

  • Puberty: 4½ to 5 months
  • Age at laying: Approximately 6 months
  • Clutch size: 5 to 8
  • Incubation: 21 days
  • Birth weight: 30 to 80 grams
  • Independence of chicks: 3 months of age

Chicken Anatomy  ( See Chart Above )

  • Legs: Featherless in most breeds; can propel body up to 9 mph
  • Nails: Sharp; used for scratching in dirt, grasping to perch
  • Wings: Short flight feathers, limited lifting ability
  • Tail: Short in hens, fuller in roosters; used for balance in flight and perching
  • Ears: Sizable hole on either side of head, covered by feathers; fleshy earlobe just below ear hole
  • Eyes: Set on the side of the head for a 360-degree view; sole means of identifying food; color vision superior to that of humans
  • Beak: Jawbone covered with lightweight keratin sheath; used to pick up food, grooming and fighting
  • Nostrils: Located on top of beak; poor sense of smell
  • Mouth: No dentition; tongue used to push feed to back of mouth for swallowing
  • Comb: Fleshy protuberance on the top of chicken’s head containing nerve endings and blood vessels; larger on roosters than on hens
  • Wattle: Fleshy protuberance hanging below a chicken's beak; contains nerve endings and blood vessels; and matches the comb color; larger on roosters than on hens


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