Life Cycle of a Hen: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Hens are found on farms all over the world, and they go through several stages in their life cycle. In this lesson, learn about a hen's life from hatching to adulthood.

Let's Go to the Farm

Do you enjoy scrambled eggs for breakfast? Or have you used eggs in a recipe? If so, you can thank a hen for those eggs. Hens are female chickens (males are called roosters), and they are found on farms throughout the world. In fact, there are more chickens on the planet than any other bird! Like other animals, hens go through stages called a life cycle. Let's find out more about the life cycle of a hen.

Hatching Eggs

All chickens, male and female, begin their lives inside of eggshells. Once an egg is laid, one of two things can happen. If the egg is not fertilized, it makes its way to the grocery store. These are the eggs you enjoy for breakfast. If the egg is fertilized, then it takes about three weeks for the baby inside to be strong enough to hatch out of it. At first, the baby is covered with a very soft material called down, which makes the chick look fluffy. It takes about one to two months for a baby hen to develop its feathers.

Baby hens hatch from their eggs in about three weeks.

Young Chicks

When a hen is a young chick, it actually isn't called a hen yet. It is called a pullet. These pullets spend about six months hanging out around the farm. They eat both plants and other animals, like mice and insects. This means they are omnivores. After about six months, the pullet is old enough to start laying eggs of her own. Once that happens, she is no longer called a pullet. Now she is a full-grown hen.

This baby hen will be a pullet for about six months until she is old enough to lay her own eggs.

Adult Hens

Once a hen is old enough, let the egg-laying begin! Hens breed with roosters in the spring and summer months, because there are long stretches of daylight during this time. Once a hen breeds with a rooster, she lays an egg in less than 24 hours. She sits on the egg to keep it warm, which helps the embryo, or beginning stage of the baby chicken, to develop. In three weeks, the chick hatches and the cycle starts all over again!

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