Chickens are interesting creatures, and probably the very best animals you can keep as livestock. Aside from keeping our properties mostly free of bugs they happily give us a daily delivery of the freshest eggs you can possibly get.
Chickens are inexpensive, hardy, and easy to handle, so it adds up to a pretty good deal if you ask me.
But chickens lay their eggs all the time. Like, all the time, day in and day out. That brings up a good question: why do chickens lay eggs every day?
Chickens lay eggs every day because it takes about 24 hours for a hen to create an egg, pass it through her oviduct, then squeeze it out. Chickens do this to create a clutch of eggs to hatch, but when the eggs are taken they just keep on laying.
Every keeper who has laying hens knows that they typically lay a lot of eggs, and some breeds can lay a whole lot more than others.
There is a lot to learn about the laying habits of chickens, and much of this info can be crucial for planning your operation. Keep reading to find out more…
Do Chickens Lay an Egg Every Day?
Yes, while they are in laying season. Chickens may take a break from laying, but most hens will lay an egg almost every day during their prime while in season.
Laying usually lasts until mid to late fall or early winter since hens know instinctively that eggs require warm temperatures to incubate and hatch.
As a hen ages and leaves her prime laying days behind her, her pace will usually slow, and she will lay fewer eggs. This is to be expected and isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm.
However, if your young hen suddenly stops laying eggs altogether, this could be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.
Do Chickens Need to Mate in Order to Lay Eggs?
No! All hens will lay eggs regardless of whether or not they have mated with a rooster.
In order for a hen to lay fertile eggs that can be hatched, she will need to mate with a rooster at some point.
However, this is only necessary if you want to raise chicks. If your goal is simply to collect eggs, then there is no need for your girls to mate.
Will a Hen Lay without a Rooster Around?
Yes, and this is a fairly common misconception. You do not need a rooster in order to get eggs from your hens, and a rooster does not need to be part of your flock in order for hens to lay, fertilized or not.
All you need is a healthy, well-fed hen who is of laying age.
Do Hens Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Yes, when they have not mated. Unfertilized eggs will not hatch into chicks, but other than that, there is no difference between a fertilized and unfertilized egg as far as taste or nutrition is concerned.
Are the Eggs we Eat Unfertilized?
Yes, or at least they should be. All of the eggs we get from the grocery store or farmer’s market are from hens that have not mated, and as a result, they are unfertilized eggs. The USDA mandates that these eggs be unfertilized for commercial sale.
However, it is possible that eggs from your friendly neighbor, a roadside stand or some other source closer to home may be from hens that have mated with a rooster. In this case, it is possible the eggs are fertilized.
This won’t make much difference so long as the eggs were collected and refrigerated soon after laying, as this will prevent incubation from beginning.
How Many Eggs Will a Hen Lay in a Week?
Most chickens will lay around 6 or 7 eggs per week, although it can be as low as 3 or as many as 8 or 9.
This all depends on various factors, including the breed of the chicken, the age of the chicken, stress levels, and her overall health and nutrition. If you want to find out more, you should read our article on how to get your chickens to lay more eggs.
Will Hens Lay Eggs All Year?
Most of the year, usually. Chickens typically take a break from laying during the winter months when the days are colder.
However, chickens that live in warm climates or are kept in warm, climate controlled barns may lay all year long, pretty much around the clock.
How Many Eggs Does a Hen Lay in a Year?
The average hen will lay around 200-250 eggs per year, although this number can be as low as 150 or as high as 350 depending on the type of chicken and other factors mentioned above.
Do Hens Lay Eggs Their Whole Lives?
Generally yes. Chickens can start laying eggs as early as 5 or 6 months old and will lay eggs fairly consistently for the next 2-3 years. After that, production will begin to decline until it eventually levels off or stops altogether.
This is just a general guideline however, since some chickens may lay well into their later years while others may stop much sooner.
What Causes a Chicken to Stop Laying Eggs?
There are a number of reasons why a chicken may stop laying eggs, including age, stress, poor nutrition, disease, or injury.
As mentioned above, it is perfectly normal for a chicken’s egg production to decline as it gets older. Again, if a young hen suddenly stops laying eggs altogether, this could mean trouble- call your vet!
One of the most common, and most troublesome, causes of a halt in laying is broodiness.
Broodiness is when a hen stops laying eggs and instead sits on the ones she has accumulated in an attempt to hatch them.
This can last for weeks or even months, during which time the broody hen will not lay any eggs.
If you are interested in hatching chicks, this is great! But if not, broodiness can be a real pain and will definitely disrupt your collection schedule.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.