Thursday, October 23, 2008


It’s not easy, even with using Google, to learn about the reproductive organs of chickens.

Whoa, I can hear you saying. Why would anyone want to know such a thing?

Those of you who know me personally will understand that I am fascinated by all the stuff in the world that I don’t know – one of which is exactly what happens when birds and chickens mate – and whenever the occasion arises that have a few extra minutes on the computer, I can always find something to learn! Today, I was on a hunt to learn what equipment hens and rooster have to insure procreation.

When you are starting out knowing nothing, it takes a while.

First I was informed simply that chickens have vents. So of course I had to look up what a vent was. In the process of doing that, I found an absolutely amazing video on YouTube which I encourage you to watch here. It is simply a hen laying an egg, but you’ll be sweating by the time she gets this egg out her vent.

Apparently it is also correct to say the egg is coming out her "cloaca," but I did find someone who answered that question very simply: it comes out of the egg hole! (That really made me laugh, and in fact was so funny I thought maybe I should stop researching right there!) But no…

Wikipedia enlightened me by adding this: In zoological anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal and urinary tracts of certain animal species….The word comes from Latin, and means sewer….

Now of course, I had to look a bit further once I’d learned about the vent and the cloaca, because I wanted to know specifically how the rooster and the hen mate. I didn’t think he had a penis, but what did he have that worked in its place?

Oklahoma State University has a poultry page that says the male chicken does not have a penis and therefore there is no penetration of the female reproductive tract at the time of mating. Instead the female inverts her cloaca, which comes in contact with the male’s inverted cloaca and receives the sperm. The cloaca is then drawn back into the hen’s body and the sperm are captured.

I am a bit puzzled by the use of the term “inverted” – it seems to me it would be called extruded or something similar – but I must just not know enough to understand why something that pooches out would be called “inverted.”

And as I gather from the various pictures posted on the chicken and bird sites, it is a simple matter of kind of making one’s little inverted cloaca shake hands with the other’s little inverted cloaca and – voila’ – chickies are on the way. But after all this study, I came upon one person’s very fine, correct explanation of everything I had wondered about and at the conclusion of this satisfying wrap up, the author said: “OR... Rooster hops on Hen. Rooster wiggles around and does his business. Rooster's sperm goes into Hen, thus fertilizing her egg”. Simple, Yes?

Anyway, after all this investigation I guess I don’t have any more questions. If asked, I could explain in a non-scientific way about the general goings-on and probably use the correct anatomical word if necessary.

And now I have one less thing in the world to wonder about. There are still plenty of things left to find out and share with you, although I realize some of you really may not have been interested in chicken reproductive organs.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Grandma, your warnings at dinner tonight did not prepare me for that video. Thank you, I think.