Chickens have coexisted with humans for almost hundreds of decades, if not more. Descended from the docile Red Junglefowl bird of Southeast Asia, these birds changed drastically due to human domestication.
Similar to its predecessor, the Red Junglefowl and other related birds, Chickens have intricated social structures and hierarchies that they maintain. There is no creative collective name given for chickens as there are for others, such as ‘murder of crows’ or ‘gaggle of geese.’ So exactly what do you call a group of chickens, then?
A group of chickens is typically referred to as a flock, but they can also be called a brood or peep.
Continue reading to learn more collective nouns and other interesting facts about this well-known bird!
Important Terminology Relating to Chickens
Many terms have been created for chickens through domestication and farming; hence it can be quite common to mix them up. Here are some terms with which they may be referred:
Domesticated male chickens that are less than a year old. These young birds become sexually mature in less than half a year.
An immature female domesticated bird that is less than a year old.
A mature or adult male domesticated chicken. They are further classified as Fowls as well. Fowls are those that are usually raised for meat, eggs, or games.
An adult female chicken that has reached reproductive age is called a hen. The reproductive age usually begins at 16 to 24 weeks.
- Point of Lay Chicken
Refers to a hen or a mature female domesticated chicken ready to lay eggs.
- Layer Breed
These are chickens bred for the production of eggs only. They have no other purpose, such as meat production or games.
Poultry refers to birds that have been domesticated for human use, primarily for egg-laying, meat, and feathers.
Baby chickens, both male and female.
A colloquial term for an older hen.
Collective Nouns and Terms Used for a Group of Chickens
There are quite a few different terminologies used for a group of chickens; however, that depends on the context. The most common terms used are:
- Brood of Chickens
A group of hens or even a singular family of chickens is referred to as a brood of chickens.
- Flock of Chickens
This is the most common term referred to for a group of most types of birds.
- A Peep or a Clutch of Chickens
A group of young or baby chickens is referred to as a peep or clutch of chickens. This is mainly due to the chirping sound they make while hatching out from their eggs.
- A Collection of Chickens
This is quite self-explanatory and is quite a common term used for a group of chickens.
Are Chickens Social Birds?
Chickens are known for being boisterous and social birds and tend to prefer living in close-knit communities that take care of one another. Hens frequently assist one another in building nests, incubating eggs, and raising chicks. And it’s very typical for a couple of hens to share a nest as well.
However, compared to hens, roosters tend to be more solitary in nature and prioritize themselves when it comes to feeding. They will only signal to other chickens when they are done feeding.
Do Chickens Gather in Flocks?
Chickens love to cluster in groups. They are gregarious birds who prefer living with groups usually ranging from 3 to a greater number of birds. For the purpose of breeding, a farmer typically puts together around five to fifteen hens with a single cockerel in each flock.
Social by nature, leaving chickens alone without the company of other birds may lead to them being restless and somber. Moreover, most domesticated chickens procreate communally. Hence you can often see hens sharing rearing duties and even sharing nests with other hens.
Even feral chickens which have abandoned or fled domestication also tend to flock around in groups of several birds. You will rarely ever see a chicken living by itself.
Reasons Why Chickens Flock Around in Groups
Chickens have come a long way since they were domesticated and bred by humans, and their behavior patterns have undoubtedly altered since then. And very little is known about how and why.
However, we have come across two primary reasons why chickens tend to flock in groups. And they are:
With the ultimate goal of reproducing, Male cockerels have a tendency to keep the hens breeding at the same rate as them. Therefore, chickens can sustain their high reproductive rates by gathering in a community with a large number of chickens.
Another prime reason for flocking in groups is for survival. Flocking also helps chickens survive in cooler temperatures by permitting them to burrow for warmth. Moreover, their large numbers tend to protect them from any outside threat.
When Do Chickens Congregate?
Thousands of chickens kept on a farm for commercial purposes can’t be called a flock of chickens. This is due to the fact that these chickens never have the opportunity to display their inherent social and communal impulses.
Chickens tend to form flocks in smaller groups used for recreational purposes. In other words, chickens naturally form flocks when their natural habitat allows them to. Even feral or stray chickens establish flocks with distinct power structures in the wilderness.
The Number of Chickens in a Flock or Group
Most domesticated chicken breeds require at least three birds to form a flock. Generally, a small flock of five to ten chickens is the standard. On the other hand, thousands of birds can be found on commercial farms, but this isn’t actually referred to as a flock.
Do Chickens Stick Together As a Family?
Domesticated chickens tend to have a strong familial bond which they tend to maintain with no harm or aggression as long as they are brought up together. Groups of smaller chickens usually create strong social relationships and stick together. These chickens can be small to mid-sized.
Moreover, after dark, chickens cluster together to share warmth, whereas hens share incubation and duties for nesting and weaning chicks. These baby chicks often remain to stay with their mothers for at least four weeks to a span of eight weeks. After which, they can wander in solitary within flocks.
What Do We Call a Group of Roosters?
There is no definite term given to a cluster of Roosters; however, we usually refer to them as a flock whenever seen in groups. Roosters are significantly more hostile than hens. It is because if there aren’t enough hens in the brood or flock to mate with, they tend to fight with other fellow Roosters.
The most probable reason why a group of roosters does not have a specific terminology is likely the difficulty of finding a group of roosters together. This is because roosters are more territorial and fiercely protective over their territories as opposed to their female counterparts, who tend to be more social and flock in groups.
However, the extent of aggressiveness of Roosters varies between breeds as well. Hence it is recommended to pair one rooster with every 10 to 15 hens, to prevent any fighting or assertion of dominance over mating rights.
Roosters sometimes even create their own herds or groups to flock around and socialize with one another. These groups often exclude female hens.
Do We Use Any Specific Term for a Couple or Duo of Chickens?
Similar to the point above, when referring to a couple of chickens, there is no particular terminology used. Gregarious and sociable nature, chickens usually dwell in flocks or groups of numerous chickens, typically more than five per group.
Hence, it’s often quite common to see chickens getting agitated or depressed in smaller groups.
Some breeds of chickens with a more docile temperament tend to fare well in fewer numbers. They will, however, still seek interaction and companionship. This can be with their owners or with other animals. Hence a solitary lifestyle is definitely not for these birds!
What Do We Call a Group of Chicks?
There is even a term for newborn chickens. They are usually referred to as a “brood of baby chickens.” A peep of chickens is another widely used term. These baby chickens make delicate squeaking noises as they come out of their shells, which earns them this name.
Communities and Societies of Chickens
Like every other societal structure, chickens have one, and it is not as fair and justified either. Chickens create deep social relationships with one another, yet their social systems are also disrupted from time to time.
One such case is that, in the absence of a rooster, a flock of hens will create a pecking order, with a dominant hen at the top and numerous tiers of hens below her. The hierarchy will determine who gets fed first, chooses nesting places, and gets access to drinking water and dust baths.
Social hierarchies created by hens rarely result in aggravation and intimidation towards the hens in the lower part of the hierarchy. In fact, hens at the higher levels tend to form strong social bonds with the ones at the lower levels of the hierarchy.
Usually, in a flock, 10 to 15 hens are subordinated to one male chicken or rooster, and this rooster tends to mate with all the hens under his subordination. In the case of multiple roosters in a flock, they will likely pick and select which hens to mate with; however, the hens also have a say.
If an outsider chicken tries to infiltrate the flock, they are usually attacked by the chickens in the flock as a defense mechanism.
Can Chickens Live in Isolation?
Chickens are flock birds. They need to socialize with other chickens in order to thrive. Otherwise, they can become bored, agitated, sad, and aggressive and may resort to destructive behaviors like self-harm. Hence by virtue, chickens do not fare well in isolation as they tend to get lonely very easily.
However, roosters are said to do better on their own than hens. However, that is only if they are raised in that manner. Likewise, hens who grew up with other pets and children may be quite fine as long as they have adequate time to socialize with other animals and companions.
Are Chickens Aggressive?
Aggression in chickens varies greatly depending on the breed. Some chickens can be very calm and docile, while others can be brutally aggressive. In some breeds, both male and female chickens can be hostile, albeit the males are more likely to engage in the most severe forms of aggressiveness.
Some roosters are reared for the sole purpose of games such as cockfighting, where male chickens can compete and fight till death. On the other hand, some will coexist amicably, depending on the breed and personality of the roosters.
Some of the most aggressive breeds of chicken include:
- Modern Game
- Old English Game
Some of these breeds are reared solely for the purpose of cockfighting.
Red Junglefowl – Predecessor of Current Chickens
The forebears of today’s chickens, the Red junglefowl, had social hierarchies that are similar to those of chickens raised in natural settings today.
One male may share a home with several females. But he may also live alone or with other males. However, the hens are the most sociable and tend to assert dominance over the flock when roosters are not present.
These social and gregarious species of well-known birds do not have any eye-catching terms for their groups. Therefore, if you have been wondering what you call a group of chickens, a group of chickens is usually called a flock or brood.
Now you know the answer and much more relating to chicken-related lingo and knowledge.