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The HENcyclopedia Is Here! Experts Define Hens & Chickens For You! 😍


Consider this article your HENcyclopedia! Whatever you want to know about hens the answer you need is probably RIGHT HERE

There’s just so much to learn about hens and you’re not the only one with questions, questions, and more questions. Cluckily for you, I’ve got answers, answers, and more answers. You are egg-sactly where you need to be. 

You won’t find this many fast facts about hens anywhere else. Scroll your way through an epic 80 fascinating facts about hens and their eggs.Finally, some straightforward answers!

Plus, if you want more than a quick fact fix, then you’re just one click away from the perfect read with our speedy subject links! 

Here’s what’s ahead:

Including: What is a retired hen? What is a family of hens called? What is Cornish hen? Hen or rooster?

Including: How many varieties of hen are there? Which bantam hens are best? How big are giant hens? What are the rarest types of hen?


Including: How many people keep pet hens? Do hens purr? How do hens show affection? Can hens be house-trained? How many hens should I get?


Including: Do hens need roosters to lay eggs? How many eggs do hens lay a day? Are hen’s eggs the same color as their earlobes? Why has my hen stopped laying eggs? How much daylight do hens need? How long do hen’s eggs stay fresh?


Including: What does being hen-pecked mean? What is a mother hen? Why is it called a hen party? 


“Hen commonly refers to a female animal: a female chicken, other gallinaceous bird, any type of bird in general, or a lobster. It is also a slang term for a woman.” (Wikipedia)

common hen terminology

Are All Chickens Hens?

Hens are mature female chickens that have turned one year old, whereas mature male chickens are called roosters. 

What Is a Young Hen Called?

Pullets are female chickens that have matured in their feathering but haven’t yet turned one year old: they are the teenage girls of the chicken world. Pullets may well be laying small, practice eggs 🥚 which are very nutrient-rich and are known as pullet eggs. 

What Are Baby Hens Called?

A baby hen is called a hatchling, a peep, or a chick until it starts to grown it’s adult feathers and becomes a pullet.

Learn all about how baby hens develop here!

What Is an Old Hen Called?

Older hens are often called retired hens or biddies. Don’t confuse old hens with Capons, which are always old roosters.

What Is a Retired Hen?

A retired hen is a laying hen who has stopped laying eggs due to her age. Most hens retire at six or seven years old. 

What is a Dual-Purpose Hen?

Dual-purpose hens are breeds that are functional for harvesting both their eggs and their meat. They will lay at least 200 eggs a year and – if and when butchered for eating - provide enough meat to make a meal of. 

Learn about all the different types of hen, here!

What Are Ex-Battery Hens?

Ex-battery hens are commercial laying hens that are past their best laying years. They are usually around two years old and are not retired from laying but are considered ‘spent’ from a commercial point of view. They can make lovely pets.

What Is a Group of Hens Called?

A group of hens (or chickens) is called a flock whether it includes roosters or not.

What Is a Family of Hens Called?

A group of sibling hens (or chickens) are called a brood, so long as they hatched from the same clutch of eggs. When they are newly hatched, they are sometimes called a peep of chickens. 

What Is Cornish Hen?

Cornish hen is a culinary term given to a chicken that has been slaughtered young to be served whole as a lean and tender delicacy. They are sometimes pullets or cockerels of the Cornish breed of chicken, but not always. 

Is Cornish Hen a Female Cornish Chicken?

A Cornish chicken is a large breed of chicken that originated in Cornwall, England, and is great for meat purposes. The confusing culinary term 'Cornish Hen' basically refers to a dish, and not a female of the Cornish breed of chicken.

Learn about all the Cornish Chicken here!


How Many BREEDS OF HEN Are There?

63 chicken breeds are recognized in the USA in 2023 and there are hundreds of breeds of chicken in the world, but nobody knows exactly how many. Even the breeds which are officially (and unofficially) recognized in developed countries like the US and UK fluctuate constantly. 

Learn about chicken breeds, here! There are so many to meet.

How Many VARIETIES OF HEN Are There?

There are over 460 varieties of hen officially recognized in the USA in 2023. The 63 breeds of chicken are further categorized into size varieties and color varieties. For example, there are 60 bantam chicken breeds that can be further categorized into 274 varieties based on their color. 

You can see the full list of US recognized varieties here!

What Different TYPES OF HEN are there?

Hens are formally categorized by their use, abundance, and size. There are ornamental hens which are bred to look pretty, production hens which are bred to be butchered for meat, or – more commonly - as egg-popping poultry. There are also dual-purpose hens that lay well but can also be butchered successfully when needed. Hens are also categorized by their size as either large fowl (standard-sized), bantams (mini hens), or giants. 

What are Bantam Hens?

Bantam hens are a miniature variety of chicken that weigh less than half that of their standard-sized breed equivalents. They're super cute, mini-me hens that need less space and less feed. 

You need to see these bantams! They’re so cute!

Are Bantam Hens Okay for Beginners?

Bantam hens are great for beginners who have less space available. They’re often less daunting for people who are new to keeping hens and don’t offer any specific health complications. They’re just small…that’s all!

Thinking about starting out keeping hens? Check this out!

Which Bantam Hens are Best?

The most popular bantam hens include Orpingtons, Brahmas, Silkies, Cochins, Leghorns, Wyandottes, and Australorp bantams. 

How Big are Giant Hens?

Giant hens such as the Jersey Giant are heavy hens which weigh over 9lbs on average. They've got booty! 

Which Giant Hens Are Best for Backyard Keepers?

The most popular giant hens include the Brahma, Cochin, Cornish Game, Orpington, Australorp, New Hampshire Red, Jersey Giant, and Rhode Island Red. Giant hens might sound a bit scary but they’re often more docile than standard-sized hens. They can make brilliant backyard birds if you have the space.

Meet the top 10 giant hens here!

Which Hens are American?

True American hens include the Plymouth Rock, Java, Wyandotte, Dominique, Rhode Island Red, and the Buckeye. 

What Are Fancy Hens?

Fancy hens are attractive, rare, or unique hens that are popular for showing. Some are fluffy and cute, and some are rare heritage birds.

Wanna see some fancy hens?

What Are the Fluffy Hens Called?

Silkies are often referred to as ‘the fluffy hens’ and are super popular as a result of their gorgeous fluffy feathering.

Meet the Silkie hen. She’s just sooo fluffy.

Which Fancy Hens Could I Keep?

Some of the best and most popular fancy hen breeds include the Polish, the Sebright, the Silkie, the Barbu d’Uccle, and The Frizzle. 

Click here for some fabulously fancy hen pics!

Are Hens Friendly?

Some hens are friendlier than others. Certain breeds, such as Orpingtons and Silkies are known to enjoy a fuss and a cuddle, but as hens are individual characters, even those from the same clutch can vary in human hospitality levels.  

Which Hens Are the Friendliest?

Some of the friendliest hens include the Silkie, Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Sussex, and the Wyandotte

When Is a Hen Classed as Rare?

A chicken breed is classed as rare if it's over 200 years old and there are less than 1000 birds globally; that's according to The Livestock Conservancy.

What Are the Rarest Types Of Hen?

The Burmese Bantam Chicken is the rarest breed of chicken (or hen). Other rare hens include the Dong Tao, the Sultan, the Brabanter, the La Fleche Chicken, the Breda Chicken, the Old English Pheasant Fowl, and the Ongadori Chicken.


Why Do People Keep Hens?

Most people keep hens for their eggs, but they are more commonly thought of as pets, too. Fancy hens can also be kept for breeding and showing, and sometimes for meat.  

What Are Backyard Hens Good For?

Hens are great for a consistent supply of eggs and entertainment, and many breeds make friendly pets, offer great pest control, and can also be used for their meat. Hen enthusiasts also love to show off their fancy chicken breeds. 

Can Hens Make Good Pets?

Hens can make great pets and are getting more and more popular as we’re embracing sustainable living again. Woohoo! People who initially keep hens for their eggs rarely give up on them if they stop laying since they form close attachments with them.

How Many People Keep Pet Hens?

According to the American Pet Producers Association, a whopping 10 million homes in the US kept hens in 2018. That’s about 8% of all of the households in the US. 

Thinking about keeping hens at home? Find out here what’s involved.

Which Hens Are the Most Popular?

In the US the most popular breeds of hen include Brahmas, Silkies, Cochins, Jersey Giants, Leghorns, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, and ISA Browns.

most popular chicken breeds

Should I Get Hens?

If you have the time, the space, and capacity then there are bound to be lots of suitable hens to pick from if you want to keep your own hens. There’s a lot to think about before you buy though including legalities, costs, health issues, and climate, but keeping hens is so rewarding that – if you’re keen – it’s likely to be a great decision.

If you’re thinking about keeping hens that’s brilliant! I really hope you join the club. Hens are a popular pick for a reason! Before you crack on with your hen hunt, make sure you know what’s involved, what to expect, and which hens are right for you! Where to begin? Chickenpedia is the perfect place for fast facts, go-to guides, and beginners’ courses to kit you out with all the tools, knowledge, and confidence you’ll need!

Are There Such Thing as Wild Hens?

Although hens are widely domesticated, wild colonies of chickens can still be found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bermua, Singapore, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, and China. 

Do Hens Purr?

Hens do indeed purr like cats when they are happy and content. They’ll close their eyes, nuzzle up, and purr rhythmically. Cute! 

Can Hens Crow?

Hens can and will crow to assert their dominance over subordinate females. They might crow to gain or to keep their place in the pecking order if there are no roosters in the flock. 

Do Hens Have Combs?

Hens can have combs and wattles although they are often smaller and less brightly colored than those of the roosters from their own breed.

How Do Hens Show Affection?

Hens show affection through proximity, attention, and grooming. If your hens follow you around, rub against your legs, or settle down for a rest up against you then they like you. Awww. They might appear to peck and scratch you lightly, but they’re really just grooming you.  

Why Are My Hens Mating With Each Other?

Dominant hens will sometimes mount other hens to assert themselves within the flock. It’s more likely to happen if there are no roosters present or you’ve just introduced new hens into the mix. 

Can A Hen Turn into A Rooster?

Hens can turn into roosters 🐓 via a process called spontaneous sex reversal. It’s rare, but it does happen, and usually as a result of trauma or disease such as ovarian cysts. All roosters have one dormant right ovary, which starts to develop again and is known as an ovotestis which secretes androgen and estrogen at the same time.  

Curious about this weird and wonderful anomaly? Learn more here.

Hens For Sale?

Hens can be purchased at pet stores, farm stores, commercial breeders, and from local farms or backyard breeders. Hens can also be sourced from charities, battery farm rescues, and even pre-loved sites and social pages. Just make sure you know what to look for and how to spot a healthy and happy hen.

Read this before you buy your hens!

Do Hens Have Teeth?

Hens don’t have teeth, which is why the phrase ‘scarce as hen's teeth’ is used to describe something extremely rare. Hens eat using their beaks and have a very strong muscle called the gizzard which – with the help of grit that hens consume – grinds food in the way that teeth would. 

Can Hens Bite?

Hens don’t bite as they don’t have teeth, but they can peck with their beaks.

Can Hens Fly?

Some hens fly and some don’t depending on their breed, physique, and feathering. Hens that fly don’t often fly very well or very far, just enough to escape predation or roost safely in a tree.

Here’s everything you need to know about flying hens!

How Long Do Hens Live For?

Hens live for 5 – 10 years, on average. Domestic hens live for longer than wild hens thanks to the TLC they are privy to, and certain breeds live for longer than others. 

What Do Hens Eat?

Domestic hens eat a diet of grower feed supplemented with treats, grubs, and bugs. Hens should then progress to calcium-rich layer feed when they begin to lay eggs which helps them form strong eggshells.

Click here for your guide to chicken nutrition 

How Much Space Do Hens Need?

Most hens need around 4 square feet each in the coop and 4 square feet each in the run. Larger breeds will need more space, bantam hens need less, and flighty hens will need taller coops, so exactly how much room your hens will need will depend on their characteristics.

How big should your chicken run be?

Are Hens Intelligent?

Hens are self-aware and can distinguish themselves from others. They learn from one another, such as a chick learning from her mother which foods are good to eat. Hens remember people and demonstrate complex problem-solving skills. They will occasionally start a fight with a shoe though. They’re not university-level smart!

Can Hens Be House Trained?

Hens can be taught to use a litter box and kept as house hens. It’s not recommended to keep hens indoors permanently, but if you want Dotty to be able to come in from the cold, it’s possible!  

Do People Keep Retired Hens?

Retired hens no longer supply eggs reliably, but they still play an important role in the flock offering security and baby-sitting services, meaning that most people keep their retired hens.

How Many Hens Should I Get?

3 laying hens 🐔 will provide enough eggs for a small family and get along well together. Even if you’re not too worried about egg quantities, or pick a very good laying breed, keeping one hen alone isn’t recommended, since they’re sociable animals.

If you have a slightly larger family who enjoys a daily dish of scrambled eggs and some egg-mayo sandwiches for lunch, then you might want to keep 4-5 hens. It all depends on how much room you have to spare!

Name Ideas for Hens

Here are 50 of our favorite names for hens. Want more? I’ve got more! If you don’t spot one you like here, there are hundreds more categorized hen names right here!


Why Do Hens Lay Eggs?

Hen lay eggs instead of carrying their offspring because – like any bird – they can’t fly with the weight of a baby in their tummy! Hens don’t know at what stage they’ll meet a roo. Just like humans, they follow a constant reproductive cycle so that when the opportunity arises, they are ready to enable a fertilized egg. 

Do Hens Need Roosters to Lay Eggs?

Hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs. Hens lay just as many edible eggs with or without a rooster present to fertilize them.

This subject is a fascinating one! Read about roosters and how they fertilize hen’s eggs here.

Do All Hens Lay Eggs?

All healthy hens lay eggs throughout their adult years. 

How Long Are Hens Pregnant For?

Hens are never pregnant but will incubate their fertilized eggs for 20 to 21 days before they hatch. 

How Many Eggs Do Hens Lay a Day?

Most hens lay 0-1 egg per day. Whilst hens can lay an egg a day (sometimes more) they won't do so for long, and some hens won't ever manage it. Real-world, happy backyard hens are likely to take just over a day to lay: 0.75 eggs per hen per day is the stat to have in mind when you're working out how many hens to home. 

How Many Eggs Do Hens Lay a Week?

Hens lay 2-3 eggs a week on average, with the best laying breeds laying an impressive 5-6 eggs per week. Any hen laying over 4 eggs a week is considered a great layer. This high rate of weekly egg production is any girl's personal best though, and she'll only achieve these numbers when she's at her peak. Egg numbers will taper off with age, during darker months, and during a hen’s annual molt when her energy is needed elsewhere.

How Many Eggs Do Hens Lay a Year?

Hens lay 200 - 250 eggs per year on average. The best laying breeds will lay 300 – 350 eggs a year. Some hens will lay throughout the winter meaning they maintain their weekly average throughout the year whilst other breeds with high weekly production will slow or stop as the days get darker or the temperatures drop. 

Which Hens Lay the Most Eggs?

The Golden Comet hen lays the most eggs per year averaging 300-350. The Rhode Island Red and Leghorn can also pop an impressive 250-300 eggs a year! 

best egg laying hens

Which Hens Lay Blue Eggs?

The Ameraucana, the Araucana, and the Easter Egger are known to lay blue eggs.

chickens that lay blue eggs

Which Hens Lay Dark Brown Eggs?

The Welsummer, Barnevelder, Penedesenca, and Marans hens are known to lay dark brown eggs. 

chickens that lay dark brown eggs

Which Hens Lay Green Eggs?

Olive Eggers, Ameraucanas, Isbars, and Favacuana hens lay various shades of green egg. Most green-egg laying hens are a cross of two chicken breeds: my favorites being Ice Cream Bars which are a cross between Isbars and Cream Legbars. 

Are Hen’s Eggs the Same Color as Their Earlobes?

Hens generally lay eggs the same color as their earlobes. It’s true! There are egg-ceptons but hens with red earlobes usually lay brown eggs, and hens with white earlobes lay white eggs.

Which Hens Lay Jumbo Eggs?

Leghorn hens, Red Star Sexlink Hybrid hens, and Barnevelder hens lay extra-large or jumbo eggs. You can count on extra-large eggs from Chantecler hens, Golden Comet hens, Delaware hens, Minorca hens, Plymouth Rock hens, and Rhode Island Red hens too. 

When Do Hens Start to Lay Eggs?

Most hens start to lay eggs at 18 to 22 weeks of age. Some breeds start sooner and others start later… 

Which Hens Start Laying Early?

Leghorns, Golden Comets, Sex Links, Rhode Island Reds, and Australorps are all hens that mature early, at around 16 to 17 weeks.  

How Long Do Hens Lay Eggs For?

Chickens lay eggs reliably for 2-3 years before production starts to taper off and stop completely at 7 - 8 years.

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs?

Hens will eventually stop laying due to age, but some may stop due to molting, temperature extremes, darker days, stress or a new addition to the coop, poor diet, changes in diet, dirty coops, illness, or parasites. 

What Time of Day Do Hens Lay Eggs?

Hens lay their eggs 5 -6 hours after sunrise. Why? Oviposition is heavily dependent on light exposure, which triggers the release of specific hormones needed to initiate uterine contractions.

How Much Daylight Do Hens Need?

Hens need at least 12 hours of sunlight to enable the process to take place. Many hens will stop laying in the winter months without suitable light supplements. 14 – 16 hours of sunlight will provide optimal conditions for egg production. Extra light in the winter equals extra eggs. 

Do Hens Lay Eggs at Night?

Hens don't lay eggs at night. They depend on daylight to trigger oviposition and it's just too risky with those pesky nocturnal predators lurking about.

How Long Do Hen’s Eggs Stay Fresh For?

Unwashed chickens’ eggs will stay fresh for 2-4 weeks stored at room temperature, or up to six months in the fridge. Washed chicken eggs have to go in the fridge but can last way beyond their use-by date. We bin so many perfectly good eggs because we’re not sure if they’re safe to eat or not. 

Here’s how to store your hen’s eggs and how to check if your hen’s eggs are fresh or not.


What Does Being HEN-PECKED Mean?

Hen pecking is a term used for a wife or female partner who constantly nags at or picks on her partner. The idiom was developed in the 1600s when the term hen was often used to refer to women and the constant sharp jibes were seen to be similar to a hen pecking away constantly at the ground.

Why Is It Called A HEN PARTY? 

Bachelorette parties are called hen parties in the UK as the brits used to use the term hen as derogatory slang for unintelligent and gossipy women, and still do refer to women affectionately as birds in the Northern counties. It’s nothing specifically to do with chickens, just a gathering of female birds.   

What Are FEMALE BIRDS Called?

Any female bird is known as a hen. It’s not an egg-sclusive term for chickens. 

Are Female LOBSTERS Called Hens?

and female lobsters are also known as hens.

What is a MOTHER HEN? 

The term mother hen refers to a female character who is overly protective and controlling of a group. This could be a fussy Momma, or a slightly overbearing work colleague.  



Fast facts are perfect for satisfying your curiosity or mastering the pub quiz, but they’re not quite enough to get you through the ins and outs of hen husbandry.

I can’t share how to care for hens in a single sentence or explain hen health issues in a paragraph. If you’re serious about keeping healthy and happy hens, then you’ll need a smidge more chicken knowledge under your belt.

Improving your chicken knowledge doesn’t have to mean trawling through books, scouring social media for sensible answers, or ambling through academic papers. Thanks to Chickenpedia it can be just as fast, fun, and fascinating as this FAQ article (if I do say so myself). 

You will always have questions and concerns but knowing where to turn when the going gets tough will help you act fast and regain control of your flock. At least one of your hens will scare the life out of you by playing dead or wheezing like a chain smoker. You might spot something nasty crawling on their skin, or a case of wry neck might have you running to the vet in a flap.

Chickenpedia’s chicken care courses are designed so that you can dip in and out as you need to. As well as offering a lifetime’s access to their suite of courses. You’ll find great tips, step-by-step guides, and handy downloads.

If you keep hens, you need to know about Chickenpedia.  

Jo Smith


I’m Jo. Busy Mom to two little girls, one soppy, Labrador Retriever and too many chickens to ever confess to (I’m hoping the hubby has lost count). I love to chat and I’m chicken crazy, so I really love my job: chatting chickens with you! 💕

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