Technically speaking, chickens do not lay eggs. If this is confusing, let me straighten it out a bit: Hens lay eggs, not chickens! Jokes apart, what we are discussing here is one of the most commonly searched questions on the internet after the most viral query in the history of human civilization; what came first, chicken or egg?

How many eggs does a chicken lay a day
How many eggs does a chicken lay a day? | Image Credit – montatip lilitsanong

A hen lays a single egg every day, and perhaps she will not deliver any egg whatsoever on some occasions. The reproductive system of hens is the cause of this egg-producing pattern. A hen’s body starts creating an egg immediately after the preceding egg is laid, and the process usually takes 26 hours. 

As a result, a hen will continue to lay later and later as days go on. Since a hen’s reproductive system is photosensitive, it will ultimately lay too later in the day for the system to commence developing a new egg. Thus, the hen will go without producing any for a day or two before laying again.

In addition, hens in a brood do not all start laying eggs on the same day, nor do they all persist in producing for the same amount of time. The time required for a brood to lay eggs fluctuates as well. For 3 to 4 years, many domestic hens lay eggs on and off. 

Parameters for egg production

Every year, egg production decreases compared to the previous year. Furthermore, every year, egg size grows, and shell grade declines. The number of eggs from a brood and the number of years it will lay eggs are both governed by a range of parameters, such as the following:

Breed

One of the many breeds
One of the many breeds | Image Credit – Zosia Korcz

Commercial chicken varieties have been selectively bred for the production of eggs. Industrial White Leghorns are utilized in huge egg production facilities. However, they do not yield well in backyard broods. They are too inconsistent for domestic use. 

Some individuals enjoy owning a flock with a variety of breeds. A brood like this can lay eggs with a variety of shell colorations. When deciding which variety to rear, bear in mind that while commercial-type chickens may produce more quickly at first, other types tend to produce eggs for extended periods.

Light  

Season-long producers are chickens that arrive at the farm as the warmer days approach, implying that they begin to lay eggs as the average hours of light per day increase. During the first few days, day-old chicks are often housed on 23 to 24 hours of light every day to ensure that they can find nutrition and drink. Farmers must decrease the number of hours of light every day after that time frame. You can only offer the full-grown hen 8 hours of light every day if raised indoors.

Pullet administration

For those unfamiliar with the hen terms, pullet is a baby chicken usually less than one year. It is critical to properly maintain pullets, particularly in diet and lighting, because efficient handling impacts the quantity and quality of eggs produced once the hens begin to lay. If the pullets start producing too soon, they may develop internal system prolapse, leading to health issues throughout the brood. These hens could also lay considerably smaller or deformed eggs.

Feeding habits

Person Feeding White Chicken Outdoor
Person Feeding White Chicken Outdoor | Image Credit – Alexandr Podvalny

Hens and chicks of all types and ages need a well-balanced feed. Nutrient mixers combine the available components to provide all of the nutrition a brood requires in a single batch. Some farmers blend nutrient mix with less expensive scrap cereals. However, this waters down the micronutrients given to the hens, resulting in nutrient inadequacies. Nutrient deficits can harm the development of pullets and the number of eggs produced by hens.

Area allotments

Laying hens require ample area to reproduce correctly. The quantity of surface area needed by a brood is determined by the hens’ size, the variety of hens employed, and the accommodation style utilized. A minimal of 1.5 square feet per hen is advised, with the most typical area allocation being 2 square feet per hen. However, some of the larger breeds demand larger accommodations.

How do hens produce eggs?

A person holding eggs
A person holding eggs | Image Credit – Daniel Tuttle

Even though eggs are widespread in the culinary industry, little is known about how an egg develops within a hen. Every fresh produce results from a 24-to-26-hour cycle, with much of the activity taking place at nighttime. Let us get more into detail and understand the science behind your daily hearty breakfast!

The ovary of a laying hen contains thousands of microscopic ova or potential egg yolks. A single ovary progresses to the point where it delivers eggs, making birds unusual among mammals. When a yolk is fully prepared, it exits the ovary and enters the oviduct, a tube-like framework segmented into different regions. 

Over four hours, the yolk passes through the magnum, a unit of the oviduct where egg white protein is deposited. The egg white is made up of several distinct proteins. The protein coats shield the yolk and serve as a blueprint for creating the shell membrane and eggshell.

After passing through the isthmus, wherein shell membrane fibers are generated, the egg reaches the shell glands, taking around 20 hours to build the eggshell. Calcification is the method of allocating sheets of calcium carbonate to generate the shell. 

Most of the color (white or brown) is created and incorporated into the shell’s outer regions in the last two hours of shell development. The phase comprises the cuticle built to defend the egg’s innards from bacteria attempting to pierce the shell and probable moisture loss. After moving through the oviduct’s narrow end, the egg shifts just before dropping to be placed large end first.

Commonly asked questions

When it comes to laying eggs, how long do hens take?

At roughly 16-18 weeks (four months), the hen varieties used in commercial egg production begin laying eggs. Commercial laying hens provide first-quality eggs until they reach the age of one and a half years.

Why are my healthy hens not producing eggs?

Mature hens can lay an egg once or twice a day, although they occasionally miss a day. Particular hens are never going to lay an egg. Such conditions are frequently caused by a genetic abnormality, although they can also be caused by other factors, including a bad diet. To create the hard shells of eggs, laying chickens need abundant calcium in their feeds. If your hen is having difficulties laying eggs, consult a veterinarian.

Externally and internally occurring parasites or worms can infiltrate chicken broods, putting the hens in distress. Internal parasite outbreaks can cause substantial injury to the digestive system and impair hen productivity. Mite invasions can lead to anemia in chickens, which might harm their performance.

Do hens need a rooster to deliver eggs?

Four Assorted-color Roosters
Four Assorted-color Roosters | Image Credit – Engin Akyurt

Regardless of the presence of a rooster, healthy female hens can lay eggs. If a hen does not contact a rooster, the eggs will be unfertilized, which indicates the egg will never mature and emerge into a chick.

What breeds lay eggs the longest?

Brown egg-laying chicken varieties are usually among the most excellent egg-laying chicken breeds. And here are some breeds widely recognized for their exceptional egg-laying abilities: Australorps, Barred Rocks, Buckeyes, Dominiques, Isa Browns, Rhode Island Reds, and Turkens.

Does egg production decrease in the autumn or wintertime?

During the winter, most hens stop laying or reduce their laying dramatically. The absence of sunshine causes the hormone levels to drop, and egg production decreases substantially as the days get shorter. To boost the hours of light they are subjected to and the level of egg production, you may add a low-wattage light to the coop.

Molting is another factor for decreased egg production in autumn. Molting is a yearly process in which birds gradually replace their plumage by shedding old ones and developing new ones. And this is something that occurs plenty of times in the autumn. Most birds do not molt in their first fall, although some do. Developing new plumage is extremely strenuous on the bird’s physiology and necessitates a good source of protein.

My hens are occasionally laying two eggs in a day. Is that normal?

On occasion, hens will discharge two yolks at about the same time. This is relatively prevalent in maturing hens or indicates that the hen has been overfed. These two yolks are frequently encased in a single, double yolk egg. As a result, a chicken could lay up to two eggs per day, but no more. If there are more than two, it’s most likely your siblings are playing a joke on you! It is unusual to get two eggs from a single chicken, and it is impossible to get three.

To Wrap Up

Person in Green Crew Neck T-shirt Holding White Chicken
Person in Green Crew Neck T-shirt Holding White Chicken | Image Credit – cottonbro

It is not surprising that people swear their chickens lay two eggs per day, but that is not always the reality. An ordinary hen can deliver as much as thirty times her body weight in eggs in her lifespan; at one per day for approximately two and a half years- about 900 eggs. Now, isn’t that a lot of eggs? Egg production is a tough job, no doubt. So as your hens rest during the wintertime, it might be best not to force them and stimulate the environment to fill your plates. Let us give them the rest they deserve! 

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!