Anatomy of a Chicken

The Anatomy of a chicken.

by Karen.



Tip To Tail

There are several types of chicken combs.  Between my 4 chickens I have 2 single, and 2 pea combs.  Single Combs are dominant in Rhode Island Reds and Pea Combs are often seen in Ameraucana or Araucanas.  My chickens with the Pea  Combs are the ones who lay the green/blue eggs.









Wattles aren’t just for laughing at.  Blood flow from the comb to the wattle helps regulate the chicken’s temperature.




When chickens eat, the food they consume for the day is stored in their Crop.  This sac at the very front and bottom of the chickens chest gets bigger and bigger as the day goes on and the chicken eats more and more.  You can feel it with your fingers.  After the crop, the food moves to the chicken’s gizzard where it’s “chewed”.  Chicken don’t have teeth, so they eat small pebbles and stones, which they store in their gizzard.  These stones in their gizzard, “chew” up their food.





The vent is the workhorse of the chicken.  It’s the star of the show.  The vent does it all.  Poops, pees, lays an egg.  It all comes out of the same place.  The vent.  Think of it as the chicken Vaganus.


Vent Up Close



The anatomy of a Chicken.

by Karen.


  1. Melissa says:

    I once heard that the chicken’s ear color determines its egg color… brown eggs, I presume?

  2. Jamiek says:

    “Vaganus”, HA! You crack me up! However the close-up almost caused a spew of my morning coffee.

  3. Jasmine says:

    The proper term is cloaca but I like vaganus better. :)

  4. marilyn says:


  5. Kipley says:

    They are so sweet.(The chickens) People should know where their food comes from anyway. The hen turns part of the cloaca (vent) and the last segment of the oviduct inside out, “like a glove.” The egg emerges far outside, at the end of the bulge. So it cannot contact the walls of the cloaca and get contaminated by stools or urine. Moreover, the intestine and inner part of the cloaca are kept shut by the emerging egg, and their contents cannot leave when the hen strains to deliver the egg. Therefore, eggs are always clean as they are laid. However, sometimes a hen, stomping around the nest with dirty feet, will get the egg dirty anyway.

  6. Larita says:

    Is it weird that the part that grossed me out the most was the nostril? I’ve been around chickens, but not pet chickens so have never gotten close enough to actually see that little detail.

  7. Julie says:

    Your chickens REALLY love you.

  8. Sandy says:

    As an owner of chickens myself, I found this to be interesting. I learned a few things I didn’t know. Don’t think I will be getting that close to the butt but glad you did. I had never seen one that close before. Leave it to you to do it for us. lol. I so much enjoy your post.

  9. Linda says:

    Thank you so much Karen for adding a new word to our almost-but-not-quite-naughty vocabulary. “Vaganus” has now become a part of our family. LOL. On a side note, does it make me strange that I didn’t even bat an eye at the uber-close up? I actually found it very informative as I have been reading up quite a bit on chickens with the plan of starting a small flock of my own and never have I seen the vent mentioned. Thanks so much for the info Karen! One of the many reasons I love you and your blog.

  10. Deb says:

    Well Karen, until today my knowledge of chickens had been limited to Southern fried or rotisserie. You have cast a frightening new light on the subject…or to be more specific …the subject’s ass. I think I’ll pass on the omelet this morning! Oh, many thanks as well to Trisha Rose for that added visual! I may be back to red meat exclusively, if you can promise me NO cattle ass pictures.

  11. Lynn says:

    Vaganus! Thusly named from this day forward.

  12. Mary Kay says:

    Thank you Karen – I learned something new – and got a good chuckle and a OMG to start my day!

  13. Shari says:

    “VAGANUS” (giggles)Love it!

  14. Amanda says:

    I think it’s particularly amusing how your subject was looking back at her rear while you were photographing….LOL. For us chickenless folk? Very educational. Thank you!!

  15. Karol says:

    “Vaganus”, now that’s a good word.

  16. Wow. Amazing. And I am very impressed that you were able to capture these photos.

    I haven’t been following as closely as I should, but wasn’t there a possible legal issue about you keeping chickens in your neighborhood? Hope all is well with that.

  17. I think I just changed my mind about wanting chickens. *_*. Or I may be Vegan now. Either way, I still want your coop.

  18. Carol S says:

    I’ve learned something new for the day. (Whew, got that over with!)
    LOL aside, I do so enjoy your educational blog, Karen. Internet education at its’ finest. Carry on! :)

  19. Angela says:

    Now I know more about a chicken’s vajayjay (gotta love Oprah!)than I ever wanted to know! Always entertaining…

  20. Rachel says:

    Thanks again for enlightening me Karen…I grew up on a chicken farm and turns out know nothing about the anatomy of the chicken !

  21. Kris says:

    Love Love Love your chicken stories (all your stories really)…have a new backyard flock and enjoying going back and reading all your posts of the process!

  22. Lyn says:

    All I can say is, I just love your blog! Never know what you’ll get, but it’s always interesting!

  23. Melody Madden says:

    Interesting Karen. I feel totally versed on the anatomy of a chicken now but those pics scared me … Especially of one with the creepy eye .. May have nightmares

  24. Karen Boreham says:

    The “vent”(such polite prephrasing, by the way) surprisingly was so much cleaner than the nostril.

  25. Anita says:

    Chicken porn fisrt thing in the morning. I would have never guessed that is what would happen today. ;)

    • Sherry says:

      Bahahaha, now I’ve laughed so hard I won’t be able to sleep….it was kind of erotic starting at the head that way…. poor chicken…. but seriously – that was interesting – hope looking at this porn doesn’t mean I have to wipe my ‘history’

  26. Ann says:

    Way cool Karen,

    But how did you ever get those chickens to be still enough to get those shots.

    BTW-have any of your girls gone broody yet? 2 of mine started in just this week. My oh my, what an experience. I am still trying to break the broody cycle to get them laying again. And yes, they can go broody with no rooster and no eggs to sit on.

    • Karen says:

      Ann – Not yet. That’s, along with a prloapsed Vaganus, is something I still have to look forward to. ~ karen

    • Amy in StL says:

      This is weird, I know, but according to my almost 90 year old dad when a chicken goes broody you put a bucket over it for a day. I have no idea how that works; but it apparently breaks the cycle.

    • Rita says:

      We have a six year old Buff and she gets broody every Spring, for about a month’s duration, every single year. She’s about 2 weeks behind schedule this year. The first year, being novices, we thought she was egg-bound and gave her warm baths for about a week. LOL! Now we just let her sit … and wear really thick gloves when we go in for eggs….

  27. Not offended by the chicken vaganus here…but what cracked MY ass up was the first shot of the “vent”–where your chicken is giving you the lookback! As if to say…”WTH are you taking a pic of?

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Is it really called a waddle? I’ve been calling it a wattle all my life.

    • Karen says:

      Elizabeth – LOL, no, you’re right. It is “wattle”. I was having “issues” when I wrote the post. ~ karen

  29. christine hilton says:

    Ew.I hate chickens now.

  30. Marta says:

    Hi Karen! My good friend in Georgia keeps a handful of chickens and claims that the egg color of each chicken matches the inside color of their ears. Have you noticed this?

  31. Antonia says:

    Great photos as always!

  32. Deborah says:

    *WHAM!* That is me hitting the floor after viewing your hen’s *private parts*….sheesh…is there no modesty afforded your hen’s? You never cease to amaze me with your posts…always an adventure!

  33. Sarah says:

    Great photography!

  34. Elle says:

    In a web full of cats pictures – this is so refreshing!
    I’ve never seen a chicken ear before – didn’t even think about it before.
    When my kids are back from school I’ll show them where the eggs they love so (my eldest can eat half a dozen eggs every day if not stopped in time) come from(chuckle)

  35. Kate says:

    Holy smokes, Karen, I’m at work here! I’m not sure if I just violated our company internet use policy with the vent.

  36. Julianna says:

    The next time my 5 year-old gets me with “Guess What? Chickenbutt!” I’m showing her this picture! Or will that scar her for life? Hmmm. Nah. Totally doing it.

  37. Julie says:

    The look on the hen’s face in the first vent photo is priceless!

    • Diana says:

      Hey Julie,
      I thought the same and giggled because the chick looks at it would say:”You!!! Even if you`re jealous, get off!!!”
      So I didn`t look at the vent….

  38. Amber Lew says:

    My first thought was “who’s Vaganus?” Then my husband explained it to me. Which takes us to the new insults you have inspired in him. For example, calling someone an assvag. Or, for a more subtle insult, calling someone a vent. In the case of a ginormous asshat, they shall be called “Vaganus Prime”.

  39. Kitt says:

    Wow, learn something new every day! Chicken vents are freaky.

    (p.s. I think it’s “wattle.”)

  40. Liz E. says:

    This post is awesome. And very informative. And beautifully photographed.

    I particularly like the expression of the chicken that’s peering at you as you’re taking a photo of its vent. She’s all, “What on earth are you doing back there?”

    For some odd reason, I found the extreme closeup of the nostril more disturbing than the vent. Perhaps because it looked less clean.

    • Karen says:

      Liz E – They get dirt in their nostrils sometimes from rooting around looking for bugs and stuff in the dirt. It isn’t beak boogers. Just so you know. :) ~ karen

  41. gloria says:

    T. M. I. I think I was more grossed out by the black boogers in the nostril than the vent shot. I must say though, a pretty clean vent. But what do I know?

  42. Rita says:

    VAGANUS. perfect description and probably no truer word spoken! For that very reason, I always always ALWAYS wash my hens’ eggs before I crack ’em! And by ‘wash’ I mean ‘SCRUB’ …. with soap!

  43. You can’t shock me, I have cleaned chickens (as in disembowelled them). As a child. It explains a lot.

    • Karen says:

      Good! I wasn’t really looking to shock. I just figured, well … the vent’s the most important part. Can’t really do the anatomy of a chicken and not show that! By the way … you frighten me. Now. ~ karen

      • Honora says:

        Thank you for these pics.
        We just received our first chicks. 15 in all. After 4 days I have one or two that do get pasty butts. Reading and understanding the “workings” of the vent and necessity for proper care is so important.
        So far so good. Thinking of developing a chick bidet.

      • Julie says:

        Thank you for the up close anatomy of a chicken. I needed this education due to having to apply vegetable oil to the area. people don’t be so shy, it’s part of the biology of living creatures.

  44. Jenn says:

    Having been up close & personal with my polish crested hen’s “vaganus” during a prolapse episode 2 years ago, I can say this is probably as close as you want to get.

  45. Janey says:

    You gave us a Warning for your pic falling down the stairs but we just get to scroll blissfully unaware to chicken taint? Wow.

  46. Diane T says:

    Good Lord. Can we just see feathers and eggs? Much prettier. I think I just entered the realm of no chick/egg eatin’ Chicken violater Karen ! lol You are like the Hef of chicken nekid. eek.

  47. JebberA says:

    As my mother would say … “you’re something!” Yup Karen, you’re something indeed.

    As often the case with your blog, I learned something new. I learned that I want to wash all my eggs.

  48. Liz S. says:

    Omg! I did not expect such an up close and personal picture of a chicken’s ass!

  49. Adrienne Audrey says:

    yowza, could have done without the vent so up close and personal! Cute hens tho!

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