Chicken Anatomy-Need To Know Guide

Birds are great pets that are domesticated in all parts of the world. Like other animals, birds consist of various body systems that operate independently or in conjunction with each other to enhance and maintain the organism’s normal body functioning as a whole. Anatomy is the study of the structures of various organs, cells, tissues and other body systems to understand their purpose and how they operate under normal conditions. Anatomy is different from physiology since physiology studies typically the functions and how these individual systems work.

Understanding the anatomy of chicken and their different body parts is essential to chicken farmers since they get the knowledge and skills of the various ways of handling the birds. This way, they will maximize their performance and enhancing good practices. Chicken anatomy is a complex subject that cannot be summarized in one article. However, the following are the basics references to help understand more about chicken anatomy. Keep reading to learn more about chicken.

Chicken Anatomy

Feathers And Skin


Despite being flightless birds, feathers play an essential role in a chicken’s life. Feathers help cushion the birds from cold weather conditions. They keep them warm and cool their bodies during hot weathers when they flap their wings. Also, feathers provide the birds a little lift when they fly short distances to higher heights. This is especially where they like to sleep off the ground or simply running away from danger.

The skin is a vital organ that covers most of the chicken’s body. It is a protective barrier and a sensory organ that play the same role as the feathers in insulating the bodies of the birds. Chicken have five types of skin. The feathered skin is where feathers grow from the skin’s follicles while the scaled skins are found on the legs of the birds. The thick and tough footpad skin is found down below the legs while the beak and toenails are made from the hardened keratin. Combs are fleshy skin secondary sexual appendages that grow as soon as the birds mature, which also helps redirect the flow of blood to the rest of the skin.

Bones Structures

Bird bones usually make up the skeletal structure, which then provides support and movements of the birds. Chicken bones are made up of calcium and phosphorus. They can be divided into two types. The Medullary bones are the bones that house the bone marrow inside them, which are important in producing the blood cells and storing calcium. Examples of medullary bones include the legs.

On the other hand, the pneumatic bones are the hollow bones that are intertwined with the respiratory system by way of air sacs. An example of these bones is the chicken skull and the collar bone. A chicken’s spine consists of 39 bones and allows the bird to turn their head to 180 degrees when they are foraging for food. The wings are attached to the sternum, which is the largest bone in the chicken’s body.

Digestive System

Digestive organs are a crucial part of the chicken anatomy that enhances the nutrition of the birds. Digestion in hens starts at the beak. The beak pecks on food, but they do not chew since they do not have teeth. The beaks contain saliva secreting glands with enzymes that begin the digestion of the food as soon as the food is obtained. Food is then taken to the crop through the gullet, where it is moisturized and stored. The crop is usually visible from outer skin since it is located just below the bird’s neck. Food is usually mixed with water in the crop before being taken to the proven triculus. The proven triculus is sometimes referred to as the real stomach because hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes like pepsin are added and act on the food.

The food is then taken to the gizzard, where the grinding and mixing of food occur. The gizzards usually contain small stones and grit together with tough muscles to enhance this process. Chicken that consumes grains like maize should eat sand and stones, especially if they are confined. The grinding of food increases its surface area for the action of enzymes and acid.

The food passes to the small intestines where nutrients are dissolved, and they are then passed to the large intestines. The large intestines are usually inhabited by beneficial bacteria that help in the digestion of food and boost immunity. After the large intestines, digested food travels to the cloaca, and this is where the urinary excretes are usually added since hens do not urinate. The uric acid is the one that makes chicken waste have white perches when the birds defecate. The feaces are then excreted.

Reproductive Characteristics

This is an important aspect that we should not avoid when discussing chicken anatomy at large. It has been recorded that most farmers that raise livestock invest in those with good laying breeds to ensure maximum production of high quality of eggs. The scientist explains that hens carries out external fertilization since internal fertilization will only spell out danger and expose them to predators.

External fertilization enables the mother to fly out to safety when necessary. The eggs laid by a hen will not hatch unless fertilized by a rooster. Typically, a hen is usually born with a pre-determined number of eggs and stops lying only when her eggs are finished. On the other hand, a rooster has two testes located inside the body that produces sperms regularly to fertilize the hen.


In conclusion, many more structures in the chicken anatomy not discussed above that play crucial roles in chickens’ life as a living organism. Understanding chicken anatomy enables a farmer to have an in-depth insight into the bird’s body’s complex nature. It is important for improving various practices during the farming of these birds. Learning and understanding the chicken anatomy is also a fundamental subject to students undertaking veterinary courses since they require the knowledge to solve and treat health complications in your flock.

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