The "Vent" or "Cloaca" of a chicken is one of it's most important parts, though it's not a part of a chicken's anatomy you'd immediately notice or think about . . . not like a nice red comb, beautiful feathers, or strikingly attractive colors.
A while back, someone mentioned the vent in a Facebook comment, and another person asked, "what is the vent?" That's what inspired this post. Now, for people who've been raising chickens for a fairly long time, such a question may be surprising. But, you can't assume it's something everyone automatically knows. For newcomers to the hobby of raising chickens, it's important, as it relates to reproduction, elimination, health condition,and the production of the all-important egg.
The "vent" (Cloaca) is a bit different in a hen than in a rooster, just as there are anatomical gender differences in all species. The Cloaca is the part of a baby chick that specialists (a whole new career option!) examine within hours of hatching, so that hatcheries can send out orders to consumers like us who want to receive only pullets, for example. These highly experienced professionals are able to tell, through spreading this organ open slightly whether a tiny chick will grow into a hen or rooster. If you've ordered baby chicks a few times, you'll probably agree that they're quite reliable.
No reproduction would take place in the absence of this part of a chicken. Of course, it's also the part of a chicken that facillitates elimination (otherwise known as "poop" and referred to by avid gardeners as "fertilizer").
It's important that we take notice of the condition of our chicken's vents every once in awhile, because signs of health problems can be discovered by doing so.
In tiny baby chicks, for example,the vent can become pasted over -- this requires that we immediately and gently clean it off with a soft wet cloth, or the chick could die due to further elimination being blocked. Don't let this deter you from getting baby chicks, though, it doesn't happen all the time . . . and if it does, you now know what to do about it.
When you show your chickens, it's important to check around the vent before competition and clean the area if needed. Judges check every part of the chicken and assign points accordingly. Part of conditioning your bird is to let it become accustomed to every step the judge will be going through, so that it doesn't panic.