Poultry Science Terminology - P

pH: number that indicates acidity or alkalinity (7 is neutral, above 7 is alkaline and below 7 is acid)

Papilla: projection on the shank of a bird that eventually develops and grows into a spur in male birds

Pair: male and female of the same breed and variety. Usually also around the same age. Can refer to a breeding pair

Parasite: organism that lives on or inside a host animal and derives food or protection from the host without giving anything in return

Parenteral: located outside of the intestines, used in referring to drugs introduced by injection rather than by mouth

Passive immunity: resistance to a disease as a result of injection with antiserum or conferred to an animal through preformed antibodies received by the offspring from the mother


Parental immunity: resistance to disease passed from breeders to their offspring through the egg

Pasted vent: droppings stuck to the vent of a chick that can cause death if not removed

Pasting: loose droppings sticking to the vent area   

Pastured poultry: method of sustainable farming that allows either meat chickens or egg laying hens to forage on pasture grass, usually on a rotation grazing basis. Often they are raised in a chicken tractor pen that gets moved on a daily basis

Pathogen: disease causing organism or agent

Pathogen Reduction Act: sets limits for the number of harmful organisms on food products

Pathogenic: able to cause disease 

Pathogenicity: degree to which an organism is able to cause a disease 

Pathologist: medical professional who examines internal damage caused by disease

Pathology: study of damage caused by disease 

Pea comb: medium-size comb that features three ridges running lengthwise from the top of the beak to the top of the head and resembles an opened pea pod with peas running up the middle

Pecking order: social rank of individuals birds within a flock 

Peachick: young (baby) peafowl 

Peacock: adult make peafowl 

Peahen: adult female peafowl 

Peck(ing) order: social organization of a flock ranging in a ladder formation from the most dominate to the most subordinate member of the flock 

Pediculosis: louse infection

Peep: term for chick sometimes used by small flock owners 

Pellets: form of feed where the contents are compressed into bite-sized morsels 

Pen: adult female swan; group of chickens entered into a show and judged together; also, a group of chickens housed together for breeding purposes

Pendulous crop: enlarged crop usually due to impaction and which hangs downwards in an abnormal way

Penicled: crosswise lines or bars on feathers that form a pattern 

Pendulous crop: crop that is impacted and enlarged and hangs down in an abnormal manner 

Peracute: having extremely severe and short duration, measured in minutes or hours

Perch: place where chickens can get off the floor (also called a roost) 

Perchery system: system of housing consisting of a litter floor plus a number of perches installed to increase the number of birds that the house will hold. Some of the perches carry feeders and drinkers

Perosis: malformation of the hock joint 

Perch: area above the ground where birds will sit, primarily for sleeping at night (also called roosts); the act of resting on a perch

Persistency of lay: ability of a hen to lay eggs steadily over a long period of time 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): kind of clothing and equipment worn by individuals to protect against hazards in environment

Pheasant: game birds native to Asia and part of the family Phasindae. The most common pheasant is the Ringneck Pheasant which is commonly hunted world wide on game preserves

Photoperiod: interval in a 24-hour period in which a plant or animal is exposed to light

Photorefractory: terminating reproduction prior to inclement conditions in autumn and winter 

Photostimulation: providing the proper light stimulus to cue puberty

Pickout: vent damage caused by laying on oversized egg; known also as prolapse or blowout 

Picker: machine with rubber projections used to remove feathers

Pigeon milk: a cottage-cheese looking crop substance produced by both the male and female pigeon to feed the young from hatch till about 10 days of age 

Pigmentation: coloration of a chicken's beak, shanks, and vent

Pin feathers: tips of newly emerging feathers on a bird

Pinbones: pubic bones or hip bones of an animal

Pinning: removing the protruding pinfeathers of poultry

Pip: when a chick breaks through the shell by pecking holes in it at hatching; the hole a newly formed chick makes in it's shell

Pipping: process where baby chicks break open a hole in the eggshell prior to hatch

Pituitary gland: small kidney-shaped gland located at the base of the brain that produces hormones involved in sexual maturity, the maturation and release of yolks, and egg laying

Plumage: total set of feathers covering a chicken or any bird

Pneumonia: any disease of the lungs

Point of lay: females just prior to starting to lay

Popeye: emaciation of chicks (causing eyes to look large in relation to the body)

Pores: thousands of microscopic openings in the shell of an egg through which gases are exchanged

Portioning: packaging in individual serving sizes

Postmortem (Post): pertaining to or occurring after death; conduct a after death examination

Poult: young (baby) turkey or pheasant 

Poultry: term for domestic fowl raised for meat, eggs, feathers, work, or entertainment and includes: chicken, ducks, turkey, quail, geese, and guinea fowl

Poultry show: competition where poultry breeders bring their breeds of birds to see who has the best chicken, duck, goose, turkey, and guinea. These shows in the  United States are sanctioned by the American Poultry Association (APA) and American Bantam Association (ABA) and are judged by their standard of perfection

Poultry swap: where people get together to buy and sell poultry and gamebirds and small animals

Pox: viral disease of poultry including: Fowl Pox and Avian Pox

Predator: one animal that hunts another for food

Predispose: cause susceptibility to disease

Predisposing cause of disease: any condition or state of health that confers a tendency and/or susceptibility to disease

Preen gland (uropygial gland): oil sack (gland) on the back and near the base of the tail of birds providing oil used in preening and conditioning of feathers

Preening: straighten and clean feathers, typically with oil 

Prevalence: number of cases of a disease in a flock during a given time

Primaries: ten long, stiff feathers at the outer extremity of the trailing edge of the chicken's wings that aid in flying. They are separated from the inner group or secondaries by the “axial” feather. They are sometimes clipped to 25 or 50% of their length (on one wing only) to prevent flight

Priming vaccination: vaccination that increases antibody levels before another product is used to induce immunity

Primitive streak: vertical, opaque line where the embryo begins to grow and develop

Processor: person or firm that kills, cleans and packages meat birds. 

Producer: person or firm that raises meat birds or layers

Production breed: commercial strains of poultry, mostly chicken, bred specifically for high egg production and is usually not appropriate for exhibition or meat

Production efficiency: relationship between the various major production factors which, depending on the class of stock, will include feed consumption, live weight gain, egg production and mortality

Progeny test: evaluation of breeders based on the performance of their offspring

Prolapse: when there is vent damage, typically caused by laying an very large egg (also referred to as a blowout) ; slipping of a body part from it's normal position

Prolapsed vent: damaged vent caused by laying on oversized egg. A portion of the oviduct extends outside the vent. Also called "prolapsed oviduct", "blowout", or "pickout"

Protective synergism: phenomenon by which two vaccines confer greater protection than the sum of their individual effects

Protein: one of a group of nitrogenous compounds commonly known as amino acids

Protozoan: single-celled microscopic animal that may be either parasitic or beneficial; plural: protozoa

Proventriculus: glandular stomach (true stomach) in birds which secretes digestive acids (pepsin) lying between the crop and ventriculus (gizzard)

Pterylae: skin tracts in the skin from which feathers originate

Pubic bones: two sharp, slender bones that end in front of the vent of birds 

Pullet: female in her first laying season and often refers to young females post brooding to point of lay; immature female bird (used with several species of chickens)

Pure Lines: line the individual members of which are genetically pure as a result of continued inbreeding for many generations (10-12 generations and more) or with self-fertilization

Purebred: offspring from a hen and rooster of the same breed; group of birds having the same origin, and able to reproduce their own likeness in their offspring. Purebred birds have the same genotype, but all birds with the same genotype are not necessarily purebreds 

Purulent: full of pus

Pus: liquid produced by inflammation, containing dead white blood cells



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