If you are thinking about getting started raising chickens, or perhaps you are raising baby chicks for the first time, you will likely want to know the answer to the question "how often do chickens lay eggs". Knowing the answer to this question can help you decide how many chickens to get based on how many eggs per day or week you want.
You might already have some ideas about your new backyard chickens and their egg laying. Perhaps you know what the signs your chicken will start to lay eggs soon are. You might have asked do roosters lay eggs? (They don't and this is an easy way to tell a hen from a rooster, by the way.)
There are a few things you need to take into account when knowing how often to expect eggs from your chickens including: the breed of chicken, time of year, and health and environment to name a few.
Keep reading below as we will cover all of these factors and the details involved.
How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
If you are looking at the average chicken - so not a breed that is a poor layer and not a breed that is a mass production bird - that is average age and average health, you can assume about 3 - 4 eggs a week.
Generally speaking, you can expect your chickens to lay once a day or every other day. However, the fact is that it is not simply cut and dry.
If you want to about how often your chickens will lay eggs you first need to know about the egg production cycle. Then, you should look at their breed, age/health and the season. These factors are all further detailed below.
Egg Production Cycle
In order to fully understand how often you will get eggs from your chickens, it is important to know the basics about the egg production cycle. Or, in other words, how eggs are formed.
Basically, each egg starts out as just the yolk. It is released from the ovary and goes through different areas and processes to get all its parts (like a shell) before it is fully formed and laid.
This full process from yolk to laying a fully formed egg takes just over 24 hours. Given this, obviously you can't get more than one egg per day from any one chicken.
Additionally, the amount of light the chicken is exposed to plays an important role in the speed at which eggs are produced and laid. For optimal laying, chickens need 14 - 16 hours of light to produce an egg.
Quickly and easily assess your flocks health without missing a step by using this free download: The Chicken Care Checklist.
There are breeds that are specifically for egg laying and those breeds will lay much more often than chickens that are meat birds, dual purpose chickens or unique/rare chickens used as pets.
You will only have a chicken laying as often as once per day if they are in prime laying age (2 or under), prime health, Spring time and are a production type breed. Chickens need a certain amount of time, sunlight etc as discussed in the egg production cycle section above.
Dual purpose, heritage and less production oriented breeds like Barbezieux Sussex or Welsummers tend to lay in the 3 - 4 egg per week range. This is due to the fact that they are not bred to be egg production machines.
Finally, you have breeds that are used more for pets, show chickens or meat birds. These breeds tend to be poor layers and may only lay 1 - 3 eggs per week.
Of note, the color of the chickens eggs does not effect how often they will lay, only their breed does.
You might be wondering what in the heck seasons have to do with how often a chicken will lay an egg. If so, you will be surprised to find out that seasons can and do actually play a large role!
Our first year with chickens (we got them as 2 year olds), we were slammed with eggs through the spring. We even had to figure out if you can freeze eggs so they didn't go bad.
In the summer we had a decent amount. Then Fall hit and suddenly the yard looked like someone had had a massive pillow fight! Along with that, our eggs went from about a dozen a day to maybe one or two.
Not knowing any better, we thought that their production would pick right back up. So we waited impatiently and got excited as their feathers grew back in.
However, Fall leads into Winter. Winter is known for much shorter days which equals several hours less of sunlight. As mentioned above, a major factor in the egg production cycle is a need for a certain amount of hours of light.
So, as you can see, seasons can play a really large role in the answer to how often your laying hens will be laying eggs.
A chicken's age, general health, and environment are also big factors in laying eggs. You see, chickens are born with a set number of eggs.
Depending on the breed, they will start egg production anywhere from 16 weeks to 9 months of age. The first 2 years of laying are usually the most productive.
After the age of 2, chickens will start to lay less frequently and layer fewer eggs overall. This is due to a depleted egg store.
Health is also an important factor. Laying eggs is a taxing process. The chicken has to use a lot of energy to create the egg and lay it.
Therefore, chickens who have any health strain such as mites, a simple cold or even stress (a move to a new flock or other issues) can really shut down their production to the point that they stop laying eggs completely.
Keep on top of daily and weekly chicken health checks to keep them in top condition for maximum egg production!
Chicken Egg Laying FAQs
No, chickens cannot lay more than one egg per day. This is due to the fact that it takes them just over 24 hours to produce one fully formed egg.
The process for chickens to lay eggs with or without a rooster is the same. The egg is formed the same and laid the same. The only difference is that without a rooster, the eggs will not be fertile.
Typically when a chicken first starts to lay eggs, they will come sporadically. This is due to their reproductive (egg laying) system just getting going.
How often you will get eggs from your chickens can vary widely depending on their breed, age, health and the season. The most you can get is an egg per day per chicken when they are a high production breed at peak egg laying age and health.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.