Poultry Terms: A quick guide to decoding chicken lingo

Poultry Terms: A quick guide to decoding chicken lingo

Chicken lingo isn’t hard to master, but if you don’t know what you are reading to begin with it can be overwhelming and confusing.  We put together a quick guide to common chicken terms to help you and as we think of or learn more terms ourselves we will try to add them here.  Know a term we don’t have on the list? Leave it in the comments with the definition and help spread the knowledge of chickens!


**Some of these terms can also be used for other poultry**

NPIP- National Poultry Improvement Plan this is a national program involving both the state and federal levels to test poultry to ensure that they are disease free, however it does not test for everything so always visually inspect and quarantine any new birds for disease.  You must be NPIP tested to ship and show birds.



Quality of Your Bird:

SOP- Standard of Perfection these are the guidelines set forth by the American Poultry Association.  These guidelines let us know how each breed of chicken should look like, color of feathers, legs, wattles, beak, as well as body conformation, and any other requirements of the breed.

PQ- Pet Quality if you just plan on having the chicken run around your farm and your are happy with it but it meets none of the SOP guidelines.

BQ- Breeder Quality these birds aren’t quite good enough to show but if paired up with the right mate could produce nice birds of either BQ or SQ status (or even PQ).  For example a silkie hen should have five separate toes, but a BQ could have five non separate toes but a great body, if paired with a rooster with great toes spaced correctly they could produce chicks with great spaced 5 toes.

SQ- Show Quality these birds meet all the SOP’s and can be used in shows.  PLEASE NOTE just because you have an SQ bird doesn’t mean you will win; judges are looking for just the right bird and there will be lots of SQ birds at the show, but only one can win.  Also if you buy a bird from SQ parentage or a chick that someone advertizes as potential SQ it doesn’t mean your bird with be SQ once it grows and develops but it has a greater chance then something you buy from an auction.

DQ- Disqualification a bird with a DQ means it has something that doesn’t meet the SOP and will not be able to be shown.  For example wrong leg color.



Show Rankings:

BB- Best of Breed this is the best bird of the breed.  For example out of all the Cochin chickens and all the different colors of the cochins one will reign supreme and be select as the Best of Breed- first place.

RB- Reserve Breed this is the second best bird of a breed.

BV- Best Variety the number one bird of the variety.  For example Wyandotte’s come in a number of colors, Silver Laced, Gold Laced, White, Black, these are the varieties the BV is the best of that variety.

RV- Reserved Variety the second place bird of each variety.



Colors, Varieties & Breeding:

BBS- Blue/Black/Splash this refers to the colors of a breeding pen.  With cochins you can breed blue, black, and splash cochins together and produce chicks of those same colors (genetics blog post coming soon to cover what produces what).  Please note that many breeders, especially within some breeds, like the silkies, prize blacks produced only from blacks and not from the BBS breeding you will need to determine what you like and want to raise on your farm.

Breeding Pen- What colors and breeds are being bred together, most often you will hear of BBS pens, or mixed color pens.  Breeders and Buyers use this term to help determine what the chicks will look like.

Mixed Color Pens- All kinds of colors are in the breeding pen and you won’t be able to predict the color of the chicks, usually these will only produce PQ birds

Split to- This bird carries a trait but only one copy of the gene.  It can refer to a color pattern, or feather type.  For example black split to mottled will not produce a good mottled but if bred correctly to another bird can produce a good mottled.

Mottled- this is a solid color(blue or black for example)  with white spots.

Frizzle- this is a chicken with “curly feathers” and can be found in several breeds, however they do not breed true (future genetics post will cover the frizzle and smooth breeding program).

Frazzle- this is a double curled frizzle and should be avoided at all cost!! Frazzles have very brittle feathers and these birds can loose all their feathers which is not good for the bird.

Breed True- When you hear that a variety of chicken doesn’t breed true it means that the chicks produced from that variety will not all have the same color pattern as the parent stock, some will be the same color as the parent stock some with be other colors- usually the original colors used to produce the new color.  This is most often seen in the Blue Laced Wyandottes.

Sizzles- are silkies but with the curled feathers.

Showgirls- are not girls like I first thought but rather a variety of silkies that have naked necks as in no feathers on the neck.

NN- naked neck meaning no feathers on the neck, naked necks can be seen in different breeds of chickens.

EE- Easter Eggers- not a true breed but rather a blanket term for any chicken that produces blue/green eggs

Ameraucana/Araucauna- These are two different breeds often confused with one another and the EE.  We will do a breed highlight on them in the future to explain the differences.

Sport- Unexpected color or feathering that can be caused by close breeding bringing genes you did not know exist to the surface.  For example breeding smooth cochins to one another and a frizzle chick hatching out.  PLEASE NOTE that chickens can usually be bred together for a few generations without problems, but once in a while due to a total fluke of nature something pops up.

Bantam vs LF- Many breeds of chickens come in a small size and large size.  Bantams are smaller and LFs are the Large Fowl.  Please check the SOP for requirements of the bantam and LF in the breed you are interested in.



Feeds & Medications:

BOSS- Black Oil Sunflower Seeds a treat for your birds.

DE- Diatomaceous Earth, this is used to treat a number of ailments in your poultry, we regularly have DE in with our chickens to help combat lice/mites.  PLEASE NOTE you need to get food grade DE so that it does not harm your poultry.  Your birds can eat DE without problems however it is not a food source.




Referring to your chicken:

Hen- Female chicken over a year old

Pullet- Female chicken under a year old

Cock- Male chicken over a year old

Cockerel- Male chicken under a year old


Streamers- The feathers on a roosters crest (top of the head) that are long and look like fireworks popping out.


Below is a picture of all the parts of a chicken to help you when talking or reading about chickens.


chicken diagram



Here are some breeds, and varieties of chicken that was posted on the BYC Facebook group to which they found on the forums at  at backyardchickens.com  I have not verified all of these terms myself as I am not familiar with all these breeds and colors however the backyard chicken forum is a great resource that we frequent often for information and resources.


AG – American Game

ANDY – Blue Andalusian

AMER – Ameraucana

BA or LORP – Black Australorp

BCM  – Black Copper Marans

BLRW – Blue Laced Red Wyandotte

BO – Buff Orpington

BR or BPR – Barred Rock or Barred Plymouth Rock

BS – Black Star

BSL – Black Sex Link

CM – Cuckoo Marans

CW – Columbian Wyandotte

CX – Cornish Cross

DB – Dark Brahma

EE – Easter Eggers (Ameraucana Crosses)

FAV – Faverolles

FBCM – French Black Copper Marans

GCM – Golden Cuckoo Marans

GLC – Gold Laced Cochin

GLW – Golden Laced Wyandotte

GPH – Gold Penciled Hamburg

GSL – Gold Sex Link

JBG – Jersey Black Giant

JG – Jersey Giant

ISA –  ISA Browns, Hubbard ISA Browns, Hubbard Browns (Institut de Sélection Animale)

LB – Light Brahma

NH – New Hampshire

NHR – New Hampshire Red

OEG – Old English Game (usually standards)

OEGB – Old English Game bantam

NN – Naked Neck

PR – Production Red

RIR – Rhode Island Red

RSL – Red Sex Link

SF – Salmon Faverolles

SSH – Silver Spangled Hamburg

SS – Speckled Sussex

SLW – Silver Laced Wyandotte

WCP – White Crested Polish

WCBP – White Crested Black Polish

WFBS – White Faced Black Spanish

WL – White leghorn


FS- French Standard- Feathered Shanks on Marans

ES- English Standard- Clean Legs on Marans



BBR – Black Breasted Red

BBS – Blue/Black/Splash

BLR – Blue Laced Red

BTB – Black Tailed Buff (usually Japanese bantams)

BTW – Black Tailed White (usually Japanese bantams)

GL – Gold Laced

GP – Gold Penciled

SDW – Silver Duck Wing

SL – Silver Laced

SP – Silver Penciled

SPL – Splash

One Response

  1. I seriously had no idea there was so much to know about chickens and poultry! And I’m really amused to know that the bit under the beak really is called the wattle. I always thought that was made up! Great post!

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