Whether it’s down to sheer curiosity, or if you’re looking to begin raising chickens of your own, learning how often chickens lay eggs is surprisingly interesting, as a number of different factors determine how often a chicken is able to lay eggs.
So, to learn more about a chicken’s egg-laying routine and the factors that determine how often they lay eggs, this guide will help provide you with all the information you need to know!
When Do Chickens Begin To Lay Eggs?
Chickens, which are technically called Pullets until they reach the age of one, will begin to lay eggs once they reach 18 to 20 weeks old, however, this is somewhat breed dependent, as some breeds will start slightly later than this.
A chicken’s egg laying routine will usually be most reliable during the first 2 to 3 years of its life, after which the production of eggs will slowly begin to end.
What Factors Determine How Often A Chicken Lays Eggs?
There are four main factors that ultimately determine how often a chicken will lay eggs, these are: the hen’s reproductive cycle, the age of the hen, the breed of the hen, and finally, the time of the year!
Reproductive Cycle Of The Hen
Starting at roughly 18 weeks old, and peaking at 25 weeks old, it’s rather amazing how quickly a chicken is able to begin producing eggs, and when it comes to the breeds that are renowned for their egg production, you can usually expect to see an egg a day for most of the year.
A hen’s reproductive cycle is 24 to 27 hours long, which means that they will often get into the routine of an egg a day, but because a chicken’s reproductive cycle isn’t perfectly aligned with the earth’s rotation, it means that the time that the chicken lays the egg will slip back slightly as each day passes.
Ultimately a chicken won’t be able to achieve an egg a day for too long, even if they overachieve.
The Age Of The Hen
Compared to other animals, 3 or 4 years might not seem like much of an age, but for chickens, this is where they begin to enter the twilight years of their life, as such, it’s likely that you’ll begin to see the egg production of the chicken decline at a rapid rate, which means that you’ll have to keep some younger chickens around if you want to keep eating those delicious eggs each morning!
The Breed Of The Hen
Just like with other livestock animals, there are certain breeds of chickens that have been bred purely because they tend to lay higher amounts of eggs than others.
These include breeds such as Australorps, Red Stars, and White Leghorns.
These breeds will usually produce more eggs throughout the year than some of the other breeds out there, but it doesn’t mean you need a flock composed entirely of these breeds in order to have fresh eggs regularly.
Time Of The Year
What many people might not realize, especially if they’ve never raised chickens before, is that the changing of the seasons can have a dramatic effect on the egg laying routine of a chicken.
A chicken’s egg production will always be at its peak during the summer months when there is more sunlight, and it’s common for a chicken’s egg production to slow right down during the winter months when the days are shorter, and it’s even possible that your chickens will stop laying any eggs at all.
Instead, a chicken will use their energy in the winter to molt and grow fresh feathers.
Although some people will provide their chickens with heat pads during the winter, which is known to encourage at least some egg production.
How Long Do Chickens Live?
The lifespan of a chicken can vary greatly, and whilst many chickens will usually live to be somewhere between 3 and 7 years old, it’s not totally uncommon for chickens to live for longer, especially if they’re cared for properly.
In fact, if you ensure that your chickens are properly defended against potential predators, are free of genetic issues, and are well fed and kept warm, then they can live to as old as 10 to 12 years!
What To Do With Chickens That Are Too Old To Lay Eggs
For many people who raise chickens, there comes a time when they stop laying eggs, and you must decide what to do with your old hens.
Whilst some people might instantly turn around and say that you need to get rid of them (and by this, they mean kill them), your old hens can actually prove to be particularly useful, and can contribute in a number of different ways!
Older hens are excellent bug catchers, and can also be great at controlling the weeds growing in your veg garden or flower beds.
They’re also much better at spotting predators compared to younger hens, which means they’re more likely to alert you to the presence of a predator if there’s one nearby.
Their manure is also particularly rich in nitrogen, which makes it perfect for use in your garden.
Finally, unlike many younger hens, older hens are more than happy to sit on a nesting box full of eggs, and they make for great mothers too!
To summarize then, you can expect a young and healthy hen to lay an egg nearly every day once they reach 18 weeks old, and they should lay consistently until they reach 3 or 4 years old.
There are also a number of factors that contribute to determining how often a chicken will lay for too.
I hope that this guide has proved helpful, and that you now have all of the information you need to successfully raise your chickens!
Typically, chickens lay eggs every 24 to 27 hours. The frequency depends on the age and breed of a chicken and the amount of eggs chickens lay can be affected by the weather and time of the year.
Most breeds of chickens will lay eggs consistently for about 2 to 3 years, with some breeds having a longer laying period of up to 4 or 5 years. After that, their egg production will decline.
A healthy hen will lay around 150 to 200 eggs per year on average. However, some breeds like Leghorn, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, and Sussex can lay up to 300 eggs per year.