What’s a Baby Chicken Called + 5 More Amazing Facts!

Written by Sadie Dunlap
Updated: October 3, 2022
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What came first, the baby chicken or the egg? While we may not have the answer to that age-old question, we do have the answers to many more. Have you ever wondered why you see chicks following their mother’s every move? Or how they get out of their egg? 

If you want to find out the answers to these questions and a few more, read on!

#1: A Baby Chicken is Called a Chick!

baby chicken friends

Baby chickens are seriously adorable!

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Chick is what a baby chicken is called. A young female chicken is called a pulley, while a young male chicken is called a cockerel. Typically the young chickens are considered pulleys and cockerels until about one year old. An adult female chicken is called a hen while a male is called a rooster. Just like most other birds, groups of chickens are called flocks. 

#2: Baby Chickens Imprint

baby chicken clutch

Chicks imprint on the first large object they see, which is why mother hens stay nearby.

©iStock.com/Polawat Klinkulabhirun

Imprinting occurs when a baby chicken establishes a bond of pure trust with another animal or object. Oftentimes chicks will imprint on the largest object in sight. They don’t have any idea what their mother is supposed to look like, which means they will even imprint on humans if they’re around during this sensitive time in these babies’ lives. 

The purpose of imprinting is so baby chickens have something to follow, mimic, and learn from. The person, animal, or object that the chicks imprint on will have a long-lasting psychological effect on them. It’s best if the babies imprint on their mother because she will teach them what to eat and how to survive.

#3: Chicks Are Born With One Tooth

baby chicken closeup

Chicks use their egg tooth to break free from their shells.

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It is hard work for a baby chicken to hatch!! The chicks eat the yolk inside the egg to give them enough strength to use their one tooth, called an egg tooth, to break free of their shell when the time comes. Soon after hatching, the chicks lose this egg tooth and no teeth replace it. Chickens don’t have any teeth, so they use their beaks to peck at their food instead of chewing.

Many other baby animals also have an egg tooth to help them hatch such as parrots, ducks, and even turtles

#4: Baby Chickens Dream

baby chicken siblings

Chicks can reach REM sleep, where they can dream.

©iStock.com/OlgaVolodina

Have you ever seen a cat or dog “chasing” something in their sleep? If so, it means you’ve witnessed them dreaming. Just like humans, some animals are able to reach REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which can signify dreaming is occurring. 

Researchers aren’t quite sure yet what these babies are dreaming about but they are sure it’s happening. Because they can dream, this also means they are capable of having nightmares, unfortunately.

#5: Chicks Know Their Mom’s Voice

baby chicken portrait

Chicks can distinguish their mother’s voice from other hens.

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Before a baby chicken hatches and is treated by its mother and other siblings, it has been talked to by its mother. Hens are devoted mothers and they tend to enjoy raising their babies. 

Mother hens don’t stop talking to them after they hatch. If anything, they communicate even more. This teaches the baby chickens how to do so as well. On the other hand, chicks don’t have much of a relationship with their dads. However, the rooster will protect the mother hen and their babies in times of need. 

#6: Baby Chicks Are Very Intelligent

baby chicken and bunny

Chicks understand that things they can’t see do still exist.

©iStock.com/UroshPetrovic

At only a few days old, baby chickens are said to already have object permanence. Object permanence refers to the phenomenon where babies know an object they cannot see still exists. This might sound like an unextraordinary fact, but not even human infants have this capability. It takes 6 months to a year for human babies to gain object permanence. 

Chicks have critical thinking skills and even self-control. If they know there is a better treat available, they will hold out and wait for it. On top of their intelligence, chicks also see a larger range of colors versus humans.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/UroshPetrovic


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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a baby chicken called?

Baby chickens are called chicks. A female chick is a pullet and a male chick is a cockerel. A male chicken is a rooster and a female chicken is a hen. 

How much do baby chickens weigh?

A newly hatched chick weighs about one and a half ounces and is the size of its egg. This means it’s an extremely tight fit in there by the time the chick is ready to hatch! The baby chicken will grow very quickly and will soon weigh almost 100 times its birth weight. 

What do baby chickens eat?

Baby chickens are omnivores. In the wild they forage for food such as fruit, berries, leaves, and other plant matter. Chicks don’t instinctively know what is food and what is not, so they go through a somewhat lengthy trial and error process. 

Where do baby chickens live?

Domesticated baby chicks have made farms and yards their homes for many years. Mainland China is home to more than 5 billion domesticated chicks. 

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.