Different Types of Hens

Updated July 19, 2017

A hen is a mature female bird of any species. There are approximately 10,000 bird species in the world, which means that there are approximately 10,000 different types of hens. The term "hen" is most commonly used when referring to a female bird that has been hunted or raised for its meat or eggs. The most familiar type of hen is a female chicken. However, several other types of birds are raised for food as well.


Chickens, the most abundant bird species, are primarily raised for their meat and eggs. Female chickens are referred to as laying hens. The number of eggs a hen can lay depends on its breed, diet, age and the time of year. Certain breeds of hens lay between 180 to 320 eggs a year. However, the number of eggs per year will decrease as the hen ages. A hen does not need a rooster to lay eggs. However, the eggs will be unfertilised and will not hatch.


Ducks live near ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans. There are several different breeds of ducks, but they all have certain similar qualities. All ducks possess webbed feet and water-resistant feathers. Hens are generally brown or grey in colour. After ducks breed in the spring, a hen will lay between five and 12 eggs depending on the species.

Hunters seek wild ducks for their meat and feathers. Farmers raise ducks for their meat and eggs. The Pekin duck is the most common type of domesticated duck. Both Pekin hens and drakes have white feathers and orange feet and beaks.


Wild turkeys are one of the largest game birds. Hens, which weigh between 3.63 and 4.54 Kilogram, have brown or grey feathers that help camouflage them from predators.

Domesticated turkeys are white and typically larger than wild turkeys. They are primarily bred for their meat. Hens are raised for their eggs; they lay between eight and 16 eggs per brood.


A quail is a small bird that belongs is part of the pheasant family. The northern bobwhite is the most prominent species of quail in the United States. Hens have light brown or caramel coloured markings of their throats and heads.

Quail hens typically nest on the ground under weeds or grass one to three times each summer. Each clutch, or group of eggs laid at one time, generally averages a dozen eggs. A hen, which lays one egg a day, will incubate the eggs for approximately 23 days. Quails are hunted for their meat and can be raised for their eggs and feathers.

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About the Author

Based in Ohio, Patricia Arnett has been a professional freelance writer since August 2009. She is knowledgeable in a wide range of fields and has written more than 80 articles that have been published on various online websites. Arnett also reviews and edits newsletters for the American Postal Workers Union.