When people are looking to start raising their own backyard chickens, one of the first questions they ask is: how many eggs will I get in a day?
Eggs are of course one of the main reasons many people are interested in raising backyard chickens. The actual number of egg you will get depends on:
- The breed - Hybrids lay more eggs.
- The age - Older birds lay fewer eggs.
- How healthy and well fed they are - properly nourished chickens lay more eggs.
- The time of year - nearly all chickens slow down in winter and stop when they moult.
With the rise of industrial farming and most people having no idea who raises their food, many people are becoming more and more interested in growing or raising some of their own food.
To this end, people want to know how many eggs their backyard chickens will produce.
This can be a bit of a tricky question since there is a lot of factors that go into how many eggs your chickens will lay.
While most chickens will lay five eggs a week on average, that can vary depending on age, environment, and breed.
Do Hens lay everyday?
Some do, modern hybrids tend to lay and egg every day but heritage or rare breeds normally only lay for 4 or so days before having a day off.
Some chicken breeds, such hybrids or Rhode Island Reds, can lay between 250 to 280 eggs per year. Rhode Island Reds are one of the most popular backyard breeds, due to their very friendly demeanour and their tough, capable attitudes.
This is why it’s important to research your chicken breeds before buying them. Some chicken breeds are more favoured for meat, while others are more prone to becoming broody and temperamental.
A hen will naturally lay between 180 and 260 eggs a year with modern egg laying hybrids producing 300 or more.
You’ll notice a chicken is becoming broody when a hen refuses to leave a clutch of eggs and sits on them day and night. She may also hiss or peck when you try to remove her.
This is not a preferred trait in a hen who is only there for egg laying and is only preferred if you actually want to hatch eggs. There are a variety of ways you can break a broody hens habits that you can look into.
Beyond breed, a hen’s age will also greatly affect her ability to produce eggs.
While hens won’t simply stop laying eggs, but they will lay fewer as they get older. Most backyard breeds will maintain productive egg laying for five to seven years.
If you have heard that hens stop laying eggs at a year or two, this is only because the hens in industrial farming are slaughtered at this time because they lay maybe one or two eggs less a week and are not seen as being as productive.
Luckily, your backyard chickens are not part of a factory farm, so you don’t have to worry about slaughtering your girls when their egg production drops by one or two. A factory farm is about financial stability and business, while your backyard flock is about healthy eggs and happy hens.
Weather can also impact a hens’ laying potential. Dark, gloomy days will cut down on your hens laying abilities since hens need Vitamin D to encourage the production of lots of nice, healthy eggs.
The more sunlight your hens get, the happier they will be, and the more eggs they will produce. This is why hens produce much fewer eggs in winter or when they live in dark, cold climates.
You can help overcome this by installing a light in the coop that gets them up earlier in the morning. This helps trick the hens’ bodies into producing eggs like its summer. Though you must be careful with the color of light you use the hen house. Chickens are quite photosensitive and if you use white light 24/7 in the winter and then abruptly turn it off in the summer, things can go quite haywire. If you are going to light your coop 24/7 for heat, use a red light since chickens don’t view red light as sunlight.
Fancy or heritage chickens, true bantams and meat chickens lay significantly fewer eggs.
Chickens have an innate instinct to produce a full brood of eggs (12) in order to form a clutch for incubation. In order to help achieve the chickens’ maximum amount of egg laying in a year, they will need about 17 hours of light per day.
Can chickens lay 2 eggs a day?
Yes they can but it is very rare and tend to happen in mid summer when the days are longest and there is plenty of feed around. Producing eggs is hard work and requires a lot of energy.
Will my backyard chickens be upset with me for taking their eggs?
If you are new to owning chickens, you may have found yourself wondering how your hens feel about having their eggs taken. After all, aren’t these your hens babies in the making?
Laying hens have been bred to try and eliminate the urge to brood, which means that a hen won’t usually try to incubate her eggs by sitting on the nest to hatch them. This is something humans have done to ensure that we don’t have to fight our hens to get their eggs.
That being said, there are some strains more prone to broodiness than others, which is why it's important to research the type of hens you’ll be getting for your backyard and what their breed is prone to.
When a hen becomes broody, she most definitely will be upset with you for taking her eggs. In fact, she will sit on the nest all day and refuse to let you anywhere close to her. If you do, she will hiss and grumble at you and even peck you.
A broody hen doesn’t need a rooster around to try to hatch eggs. She may sit on anything in a nest, from a golf ball to a rock, in a misguided attempt to hatch it.
If you do have a rooster and are trying to expand your flock, this works out great. Broody hens are in mothering mode and will incubate, hatch, and care for her baby chicks. However, if you don’t have a rooster in sight and have no interest in adding more chicks to your flock, you’ll want to take steps to break your hen out of her broody behaviour.
Some backyard keepers choose to add decoy eggs to the nesting boxes, so as not to disturb the hens when they remove the eggs. While others suggest this to avoid encouraging broodiness.
Chickens will often share nesting boxes. A nesting box that is elevated with good air circulation, deep straw, and free from critters, will draw even free-range hens back to the coop to lay. Otherwise, you will have to go hunting for your eggs. This can be a fun activity but can become time-consuming if your girls are constantly switching their preferred laying spots.
Below: eggs come in all shapes and sizes:
While chickens are good at learning routines, recognising people, and have complex social systems, they aren’t blessed with much in the way of problem-solving or reasoning skills, so they often won’t recognise that you’re the one taking their eggs.
One important thing to note is that most chickens don’t want you taking their eggs while they’re still in the nesting box. Hens prefer privacy and stillness when going about the business of laying her eggs.
A hen may get upset or will not lay her eggs there again if she is disturbed while laying since she will no longer see the nest as a safe place. So when your hen is actively laying eggs, you’ll want to leave her be until she’s come out of her accord—clucking and rejoining the flock.
To discourage broodiness, keep a strict schedule for picking up eggs. Making sure that you’re not leaving down lots of eggs will help prevent the hens from feeling the instinctual drive to hatch a brood of eggs.
Find time to pick up eggs before nightfall each day, even if your free-range hens make you hunt for them. This will not only prevent broodiness but will also make it less likely that you will draw in predators. we’re not the only ones who think chicken eggs are a tasty snack and will make sure that you are collecting the freshest eggs each day.
How many eggs can a hen lay in her lifetime?
Hens have a finite number of egg cells in their ovaries when they hatch. About 600 to 800 of these will go on to become eggs over the 6 year lifespan of a chicken.