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How often do chickens lay eggs?

How often do chickens lay eggs?

How often do chickens lay eggs? You might have a mental image of a hen sitting on a bunch of eggs, but does she lay them all on the same day? And does a hen produce eggs consistently all year long?

Four factors influence a hen's egg-laying abilities.

Besides simple curiosity, the answers to your questions might have direct consequences on your plans to raise chickens and enjoy fresh eggs. Questions like, "How many hens will you need to make sure your entire family has fresh eggs every day?" (Spoiler alert: you'll need more than one!)

Four basic factors determine how often chickens lay eggs: the hen's reproductive cycle, the particular breed of the chicken, the age of the hen, and the time of year.

1. The Hen's Reproductive Cycle

A pullet (a young hen under one year old) will often begin laying eggs around 18 weeks of age, with the frequency gradually increasing until egg production peaks when she's about 25 weeks old. One of the most amazing things about hens is how quickly and how often they can produce eggs. Breeds that are top egg producers can achieve nearly an egg a day for perhaps two-thirds of the year.

Generally, a hen's reproductive cycle is about 24 to 27 hours long. As a result, a hen may get into a rhythm of laying an egg about once a day. But the exact timing of the egg delivery will slip further back a little each day because her reproductive cycle isn't perfectly in sync with the rotation of the Earth. Sooner or later, the time to lay an egg will coincide with the late afternoon or evening (many hens won't lay an egg past about 3:00 p.m.), and then the hen will skip a day.So even the most overachieving hen can't manage an egg a day for too long, but some breeds come closer than others.

2. The Breed of Chicken

Just as some livestock species have been selectively bred to be dairy or draft animals, some chicken breeds have been developed to be "layer" breeds. High-production layers—like White Leghorns, Red Stars, and Australorps—almost always produce more eggs in a year than other breeds that aren't egg "specialists."2 This doesn't mean you have to have these top-producing hens to have fresh eggs for your family. Many other chicken breeds also fulfill this task.

3. The Age of the Hen

Three or four years of age might not seem very old when compared to a dog or a cat, but for a chicken, that's starting to get along in years. You'll likely see egg production begin to diminish once a hen reaches this age3 (sometimes before). Keep in mind that you may want to add some younger hens to your flock periodically to keep the fresh eggs coming.

4. The Time of Year

The shift of the seasons has a direct effect on your hens' egg-laying schedules. Egg production is at its peak in the summertime with long days filled with sunlight. As the days shorten towards winter, your hens will naturally lay fewer eggs. There might even be a period in the middle of winter when daylight is at a minimum, and your chickens stop laying eggs altogether. Instead, they may use the time to molt and regrow fresh feathers.4 Decreased temperatures during the winter can also have an impact on egg production, so you may wish to provide heated pads or perches for your chickens during cold weather.

One final tip: Remember that hen sitting on the eggs at the beginning? Best not to let that happen—you'll want to collect eggs every day so you can enjoy them!

  1. Jacob, Dr. Jacquie. "Raising Chickens for Egg Production." The Poultry Extension. https://poultry.extension.org/articles/poultry-management/raising-chickens-for-egg-production/
  2. About Raising Chickens. "12 Chicken Breeds for Eggs That Will Lay Up to 250+ Eggs in a Year." https://www.aboutraisingchickens.com/chicken-breed-for-eggs/
  3. About Raising Chickens. "12 Chicken Breeds for Eggs That Will Lay Up to 250+ Eggs in a Year." https://www.aboutraisingchickens.com/chicken-breed-for-eggs/
  4. Wilke, Lesa. Hobby Farms. "Get Eggs From Your Chickens All Year Round." https://www.hobbyfarms.com/eggs-all-year-round-winter/

 

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