Hens vs Roosters | The Ultimate Guide

Hens and roosters both belong to a class of chicken. Many people don’t understand the simple factors that differentiate these two types of birds. In this guide, we are going to cover all of the details so that you have a full understanding of the definition of a hen and the definition of a rooster. 

The differences between the term ‘hen’ and ‘rooster’ relate to the gender of the chicken. Hens are female chickens and roosters are male chickens. While their gender is certainly one of the primary differences, other factors contribute to their different names. One of the additional factors to this comparison is that only hens can lay eggs.

They are several additional physical attributes that you might notice when comparing a hen and a rooster. In the section below, we’ll focus on the main factors that contribute to the differences between these two types of chickens.

Hackle Feathers

You may have heard about ‘hackle feathers’ when referring to a chicken before. Hens and roosters both have these feathers on the extension of their neck. In most situations, hens have shorter ‘hackle feathers’ than a rooster. There are some exceptions but this is an important visual difference between the majority of hens and roosters.

Tail Feathers

Roosters will nearly always have longer tail feathers than a hen. If you are trying to determine the visual difference between a hen and a rooster, then this is probably one of the quickest and most assured ways to tell the difference. 


Hens don’t generally have a lot of energy when compared directly to a rooster. Roosters have a dominant personality that relies on a lot of strength, speed, and stamina. They are loud in the morning and they are not afraid to make noise. Hens are quite the opposite and have many traits that are completely different from a rooster. 

Laying Eggs

We’ve already briefly discussed the differences between the definition of a ‘hen’ and a ‘rooster’. As we mentioned in the introduction, hens are capable of laying eggs when they mature while roosters are not able to. 


A baby male chicken cannot officially be called a rooster until it becomes one year old. They are called cockerels in their infant stage of life and will transition to becoming a rooster after being alive for 365 days. Source.

The same thing can be said for a baby female chicken. They are called pullets in their initial year and will transition into a hen after being alive for 365 days. Hens usually start laying eggs after a few months and usually average laying an egg every other day when they get old enough.

Hens vs Roosters Lifespan 

Roosters have a slightly higher average lifespan with an expected lifespan of around 8 years. The contributing factors to their length of life depend on the type of environment that they have lived in throughout their life and whether or not they are vulnerable to hazards in their life. Some roosters have lived nearly two decades by receiving great care from their caretakers.

Hens don’t have as long of an average lifespan when directly compared to roosters. This is because they are slightly more vulnerable to aspects in their surrounding environment. With that being said, there is nothing that directly prevents a hen from being able to live for as long as a rooster. Source.

Comparison Chart |  Hens vs Roosters 

Here’s an in-depth comparison chart of some of the most significant differences between a hen and a rooster. It’s important to understand these differences and similarities so that you don’t easily mistake these two types of chickens. 

Hens are female chickens that have been alive for at least one year. They are called pullets before they turn one year of age and then transition into a hen.Roosters are male chickens that have been alive for at least one year. They are called cockerels before they turn one year of age and then transition into a rooster.
Hens can lay eggs after about 6 months. Roosters are not capable of laying eggs. 
Hens don’t typically have as much raw energy as roosters do. They are more reserved and don’t usually have a dominant personality.Roosters are known for having a dominant personality and can also be quite noisy. They like to show dominance and act like they are in charge. 
Hens have smaller hackle feathers and tail feathers. This is a great way to tell the difference between a hen and a rooster.Roosters have large hackle feathers and tail feathers. This is a great way to tell the difference between a rooster and a hen.
Hens vs roosters comparison chart.

You should now understand several of the key differences between a rooster and a hen. A baby chicken cannot immediately be termed a ‘rooster’ or a ‘hen’ until they are at least one year of age.


Hens and roosters both fall into the category of being a chicken. At first glance, it can be incredibly challenging to spot the differences between a hen and a rooster but there are several ways to do so.  If you spend a little bit of time analyzing the comparison chart above, you’ll start to realize that several physical and behavioral differences might indicate a difference between a hen or a rooster.