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How long does it take for a chicken to lay an egg? Well let’s find out.
It can be really frustrating to wait on getting that first egg from your new batch of chickens. Or you might be running into a lull of eggs and you are wondering how long it takes a chicken to lay an egg on a daily basis.
Either way, I’ve got you covered in this post.
How Long Does It Take A Hen To Lay Each Egg?
If everything and everyone (meaning your hens) are in ideal shape and condition it should take on average, around 24-26 hours to lay an egg. Which is why if you go out to get eggs every day at the same time you will have very few eggs in the nesting box and the next day you will have an egg basket full.
However, several factors can influence the egg-laying process, including the breed, age, and level of egg production.
Are eggs laid every day?
Yes, eggs are typically laid by hens almost every day. Buuuut, the frequency at which they lay eggs can vary depending on several factors.
Weather conditions play a role in egg production, as extreme temperatures can affect a hen’s ability to lay eggs regularly as well as the hours of light a hen is exposed to also influences egg laying.
On average, a healthy hen can lay around 250-300 eggs per year.
Factors That Affect A Hens Egg Production
- Hens require 14-16 hours of light per day (artificial light is also fine) to maintain consistent egg production.
- Nutrition also plays a crucial role in daily egg production. Hens need a balanced diet that includes sufficient protein and adequate calcium to produce good-quality eggs. This can be done by feeding complete layer feed. If you notice that the egg shells are getting thinner you can add oyster shells to help make the shells stronger and supplement their nutritional needs.
- High heat for long periods. — Temperatures that are over 90 or close to it for several days straight can cause your hens to slow down their laying.
- Stress and the presence of predators can affect a hen’s ability to lay eggs regularly.
- Also, the number of eggs produced can vary depending on the breed. Some breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, Wyandotte, and others are known for their excellent egg production, while others may lay fewer eggs. Not all breeds lay the same.
It’s a good idea when you are choosing a breed to have goals for your chickens and be intentional about the breeds you choose. A hen that lays 150 eggs a year eats just as much as one that lays double the eggs. So in reality you are paying double the amount in feed costs because you chose to get the breed you liked over the one that laid better.
A Hens Breed Will Effect How Many Eggs She Lays
There are a lot of different breeds but the breed of a hen plays a big role in determining the number of eggs she will lay and how well. You should check into the annual egg counts of the breeds of chickens you are interested in getting for your backyard flock on a hatchery website like cackle hatchery.
Some chicken breeds are known for their excellent egg production, while others may lay fewer eggs. While cute free range chickens will get you hooked it doesn’t last when you are getting far fewer chicken eggs than you planned.
Here are a few breeds that have great egg-laying capabilities: White Leghorn hybrids, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers, and Orpington (people love to put buff orpingtons as a breed but Orpington is the breed and buff is the color).
White Leghorns are particularly known for their high egg production, large eggs, and often laying upwards of 300-320 white eggs per year. — Their egg size is typically much larger too.
Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Orpingtons, and Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers are also known for their excellent egg-laying ability, although they may produce slightly fewer eggs These breeds will lay about 250 eggs per year) compared to White Leghorns.
Egg laying hens vs Dual Purpose – What you may not know is that some breeds were developed to focus all their energy on laying eggs. (There are very few breed choices in this category)
Pro/Con: They are much thinner birds and may need to have some kind of safe heat added to the coop to keep them laying during the winter ( BE CARFUL WITH THIS!!!! It is so easy to have a coop catch fire and if it happens in the middle of the night your chickens will be inside and they will die if caught in the fire)
While dual purpose breeds are meant to lay eggs but also be able to be eaten once they have gotten past their egg-laying years.
Pro/Con: They don’t lay quite as many eggs but tend to do better at laying through the winter months if given artificial light.
At What Age Does A Hen First Start Laying Eggs
A young hen will start laying eggs when she reaches about 5 to 6 months of age, although this can vary depending on the breed.
Rhode Island Reds tend to start laying earlier than other breeds. I have seen some have their female chickens lay as early as 16 weeks of age.
Pro Tip: While getting lots of fresh brown eggs as soon as possible sound great I would not recommend Rhode Island Reds for first time chicken owners. They are probably the bossiest breed I have ever delt with in multiple flocks. If you are not ready to handle it you will hate your chickens.
How Long Do Backyard Chickens Keep Laying
As the hens age, the size and production of the eggs may change. Younger hens typically lay smaller eggs, while older hens produce larger eggs.
In terms of egg production, hens usually reach their peak between 1.5 and 2 years of age. During this time, they can produce eggs consistently and at an excellent rate.
In the second year of laying (around 2 years old), hens may experience a slight decrease in production compared to their peak, typically around 80-90% of their original output.
By the 3rd year, egg production may decrease further to around 65% or less. The shell quality decreases as well. You will notice them get thinner and have wrinkles or blemishes on them which is fine. There is nothing you can do about most of this except for adding extra calcium or oyster shell to increase the strength of the eggshell.
I have a few 3+ year-olds that lay one or two eggs a week.
While their egg production may decline after 3-4 years, they can continue to live healthy lives for several more years. So think about what you are going to do with those old hens. If you choose to let them live out their life that is your choice. But you are double or even triple the cost of your eggs by doing so. There are plenty of people in Facebook groups who are willing to take old hens for stew if you are not able to process them yourself.
The average life expectancy of a chicken varies depending on the breed and individual factors, but they can live up to 8-10 years old.
Raising Chickens For Eggs
Time of Year Will Effact Egg Production
The time of year plays a significant role in how often the chickens lay once they hit peak production but also when they start laying.
In the winter months, reduced daylight hours signal hens to take a natural break from laying eggs. As the days grow shorter, hens’ reproductive systems slow down, leading to a decrease or even a halt in egg production.
This break allows the hens’ bodies to rest and conserve energy during the colder months.
BUT if a hen has not started laying before the fall and winter months it will cause the hen to lay much later than the usual age because of the lack of light.
On the other hand, during the summer months, longer daylight hours stimulate hens to increase their egg production. The increased exposure to natural light acts as a signal for their reproductive systems to become more active, leading to a higher rate of egg-laying.
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Adding Artificial Lighting To The Coop
To ensure consistent egg production throughout the year, you are going to have to increase light exposure to lengthen the hours of daylight your hens get.
Supplemental light can be added to the coop during the winter months to mimic longer daylight hours, encouraging the hens to continue laying eggs. This practice helps maintain a steady supply of fresh eggs even when natural daylight is limited.
Rotate Out New Hens For Consistent Laying
To ensure a continuous supply of fresh eggs, it is common practice to add young hens, known as pullets, to the flock every 2-3 years.
This maintains a rotation of hens at their peak laying age and helps to sustain egg production over time. A trick I learned from a local egg producer is to choose one breed or color of a breed one rotation and choose a different color or breed the next so you can keep both groups of chickens together and still know which ones are getting older.
This way you can easily remove the old hens and process them for chicken stew.
Raising chickens for eggs is a fun part of homesteading but you have to set intentional goals even for your chickens. Then choose the best breed of chickens to match those goals. Otherwise, you will be disappointed after the fun wears off.
Trust me when your oh-so-cute hens find your vegetable garden and decide that your freshly sprouted tomatoes are the best midday snack you won’t think they are so cute.
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