When you buy chickens, there are so many terms thrown around. Most people like to begin their flocks with chicks. There are plenty of benefits of going this route, but it’s not for everyone. You might have also seen terms like pullet or started pullet on a breeder website. What does this mean? And how do pullets differ from chickens? Let’s look at the pullet vs hen – what’s the difference, and why does it matter?
What Is A Pullet?
The term chicken pullet technically means any hen less than a year old. After a year, your pullet is then considered a hen. But depending on the breeder, they could have different meanings for this term. So before you buy a pullet, it is essential to look at what they are defining it as.
The age of started pullets depends on the breed of chicken you choose. A started pullet will range anywhere from 15-22 weeks. They are old enough that you don’t need a brooder and still too young to lay eggs.
The age for started pullets varies because every chicken breed begins laying eggs at different ages. For instance, some early layers start laying their eggs as early as 16 weeks. But others may take as long as 28 weeks.
Point Of Lay (POL)
Your breeder might also sell chicken pullets at the point of lay, which means exactly what you think. It is the age that pullets are to start laying eggs. Yet again, this age will vary depending on the breed of chicken you get. If your chickens lay their first eggs at 15 weeks, your POL will be younger. But other pullets with later maturity ages will come to you older.
Some breeders sell all of their point of lay pullets at 22 weeks old. So your chicken may have been laying eggs for a few weeks. It’s also highly possible to get a chicken that won’t be ready for a few more weeks. If you want the most eggs from your chicken, be familiar with your breeds. Once you are familiar with what to expect, you can choose a breeder selling the true point of lay.
Pros And Cons Of Chicken Pullets
Now that we know pullets vs hens – what’s the difference. We can look at which age range might be best for you and your flock. We will first look at pullets to see if they are a match for your needs.
1st Pro: Easy To Tame
Pullets are timid at first. But their minds are moldable, and they adjust well to any situation. After a few days, your pullets will feel at home and become the best pets.
2nd Pro: Get The Most Eggs
Getting started pullets ensures that you will get as many eggs as possible from your chickens. You won’t miss a single egg, no matter how big or small. And that’s why we get our chickens in the first place.
3rd Pro: Heartier Than Chicks
When you get chicken pullets, they don’t need a brooder or any special attention. They can go right out to your coop and live with the rest of your chickens. Pullets aren’t as fragile and won’t get sick as quickly, either. So if you have never had chickens before, this can be a big pro for pullets.
4th Pro: Cost
Chicken pullets are cheaper than a chicken hen. You can get most pullets for $25 and under unless it is a rare breed.
1st Con: Careful Of Breeders
The biggest con to buying a chicken pullet is that you have to do your homework. Breeders sell pullets of all ages without being specific on their age. You also need to check out what they feed their pullets. If your pullet comes to you without proper nutrition, it can delay laying eggs or get sick.
2nd Con: Making Them Comfortable
Another setback some keepers have is that pullets need to be comfortable before laying eggs. So if you buy a chicken pullet at the point of lay, it might take them a few weeks to relax enough to lay.
What Is A Hen
The pullet vs hen – what’s the difference all lies in the age of the chicken. Most breeders consider a pullet to be a hen once they start laying eggs. So if your chicken pullet begins laying eggs at 15 weeks, it has become a hen. And the same goes for pullets that lay at later stages.
But this might not always be the best way to gauge when a pullet becomes a hen. Even though your pullet might start laying eggs at 15 weeks old, they still aren’t very mature. Their eggs are smaller and irregular, and they haven’t finished growing yet. Many chicken keepers consider their pullets to be hens when they are a year old.
Pros And Cons Of Chicken Hens
When looking at a pullet vs hen, it’s evident that there are technical differences. But what about the pros and cons of getting a chicken hen over a pullet?
1st Pro: Eggs
Chicken Hens over a year old are regular eggers. You can count on their egg size and quality every week without fail. Unlike chicken pullets, who might only lay small eggs sporadically at first.
2nd Pro: Docile
Hens are more docile than younger pullets. They know their place in the pecking order and hardly cause a commotion.
1st Con: Cost
Older chicken hens are more expensive than pullets. Depending on the breed, you can expect to pay up to $50 per bird. But they don’t always have to be. There is still the possibility of getting a rescue hen for practically nothing. But rescues have their own list of pros and cons.
2nd Con: Taming
If you get your chicken hen from an industrial breeder, your chicken won’t tame them. So it might take a little time to get your new hens used to their new homes. But if you get your chickens from a local breeder, they will likely already be tamed.
Are There Physical Differences Between The Two?
Pullet vs hen – what’s the difference? It might seem like the line between the two is blurred in many cases. This blurred line is especially true when breeders don’t always label them the same. So is there a way to tell them apart by looking at them?
There are a few telltale signs that a chicken is young enough to be considered a pullet. And while you can’t guess your chicken’s exact age, you can get a general idea. The three best ways to tell chicken’s age is by looking at their combs, feathers, and feet.
Chicken pullets will have bright red combs that stand up straight. Older chickens will have dulled pink combs that flop over. A pullet’s feathers are shiny and tight. In contrast, a chicken over a year senior will have dull feathers that look loose. And a young chicken’s feet are yellow, thin, and smooth. Older chickens will have rough, pale, and swollen feet as they age.
What Is The Difference Between A Chicken And A Hen?
You might be wondering what the differences are between chickens and hens. And the answer isn’t complicated. A chicken is a blanket term used for any age hen or rooster. A baby chick is a chicken, and so is an eight-year-old rooster. Hens are only female chickens of laying age, or over a year old.
Is There A Difference Between Hen And Chicken Meat?
Now we know what you are thinking, chicken and hen meat are the same things. But they aren’t always.
Most people keep hens for their eggs. But many keepers are starting to understand the joys of fresh meat. You might be wondering if there is a difference between hen meat and chicken meat. Since chicken is a blanket term, it can mean any chicken of any age or gender.
Most people process their chickens when they are about 12-16 weeks old. This is the age when the chicken has plumped out without becoming obese. It’s also the age when your chicken’s meat is at its tenderest. But they aren’t always this young. Some people butcher roosters after a year old or pullets before they lay eggs.
But hen meat is specifically meat from a female chicken over a year old. When most people process their hens, they have stopped laying eggs. So hen meat is typically from a hen over three years old.
What Is A Cockerel Chicken?
So if female chickens all have different ages depending on age, do roosters? The answer is yes. Young roosters between 14-26 weeks are called cockerels. This is the age that the roosters start to look noticeably different than hens. They will begin to their crowing and resuming their roles as flock protectors.
And like all teenage boys, they go through some hormonal changes. They will notice the girls and show off for them. And unfortunately, if you have too many males, they will start to fight.
There is even a name for castrated males. These roosters are called capons. And some owners choose to do this physically or chemically to make the tenderest meat.
Now You Know It All!
Pullet vs hen – what’s the difference? A small age difference is the only thing that separates a pullet and a hen. And to the untrained eye, they might all seem the same. But now you are schooled and trained in all things chicken age.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!