On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Three French Hens,
This is a tough one seeing that French Hen's aren't a particular species. It's most probably a reference to a variety of chicken that was developed in France. There are three main varieties of French Chicken that may have inspired this song, the Crevecoeur, the Houdans, and the La Fleche.
The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is thought to have first been domesticated in Vietnam. It is the most common and widespread domesticated animal. Chicken's live in flocks and are omnivorous ground feeders. Their flying ability is limited but they are good runner. They will chase you ferociously and for a considerable distance if angered and their peck is painful.
The Crevecoeur is a black crested bird probably derived from a Polish breed. It originated is Normandy and is reputed as not being very friendly. It's egg and meat production is average and therefore this breed is mainly used for show.
It's name, in French, literally translated means Break/Rupture Heart - maybe because they are not very nice.
The Houdans are appreciated for their meat and large white eggs. They differ morphologically from the Crevecoeur by their mottled black and white colouration (in some cases pure white), a fifth toe and a beard.They are named after the place they were bred.
Mypetchicken.com qualifies them as docile and easy the find and raise in the States. Like the Crevecoeur, the Houdan is qualified as ornamental.
Last but not least, the La Fleche - meaning the arrow in french. The La Fleche is black with white cheeks. This breed is very rare and is distinguished from other ornamental chicken's by the pair of spikes instead of the usual comb (they look like little devil horns).
Image via Wikipedia
I close this post with a entry from the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest chicken was female and died of a heart attack at the ripe of age of 16. No information was provided to whether the chicken was eaten or not.
After all this, I still do not care much for chickens, the only thing they have got going for them is how cute and fuzzy they look as chicks.