Do chickens actually lay an egg every day? We get to the bottom of the question and at the same time tell you which factors influence the number of eggs!
Does every chicken lay eggs?
When do chickens lay eggs?
When chickens start laying eggs cannot be generalized. Above all, the chicken breed plays a decisive role here:
precocious chicken breeds (e.g. Bresse and Araukaner) often start laying eggs as early as the 20th week of life. In the case of the “Brahma” chicken breed, the first egg is only to be expected after six to nine months. But not only the chicken breed has an effect on egg-laying, but the season and the feed can also influence the start of laying:
- Late in the year brood: Laying begins in late autumn
- Cold Weather: some chickens only lay in the following spring
- Feed: optimal nutrition of the chicks in the 1-2 weeks promotes an early start of laying
Note: If you buy adult hens, you should not expect the first egg on the same day. Theoretically, the hens could lay eggs immediately, but the stress of moving is a great psychological burden for many animals, so that it can take several days before they lay their first eggs.
How long can a chicken lay eggs?
A distinction must be made between classic breeds and hybrids. Hybrids have been bred specifically to lay as many eggs as possible in a short period of time.
Since laying eggs takes an enormous toll on the animals’ strength, most of them are so exhausted by the age of 2.5 years that their egg production falls sharply.
The situation is different with classic breeds that were not bred to lay eggs: These not only have a longer life expectancy but also lay eggs longer – namely up to their 3rd or 4th year of life.
How many eggs do chickens lay?
With regard to the number of eggs, the chicken breed is particularly important: wild chickens lay fewer eggs at around 60 eggs a year, especially since they also take a break from breeding.
Hybrids in laying farms, on the other hand, are bred to lay as many eggs as possible, which is why a hybrid hen can lay an incredible number of around 300 (!) per year. A “middle” between wild chickens and hybrid hens are pedigree chickens, whose annual number of eggs can sometimes vary greatly:
- Chabo: about 80 eggs
- Cochin: about 80 eggs
- Maran: about 170 eggs
- New Hampshire: about 220 eggs
- Rhode Island Red: about 220 eggs
What influences the laying performance?
The respective chicken breed plays a very important role in relation to the number of eggs, but self-sufficient breeders can also influence the laying performance of their chickens – both positively and negatively!
A happy and healthy hen will lay eggs more often than an unhappy one, which is why species-appropriate husbandry has a huge impact on laying performance. If you want to enjoy fresh and tasty eggs as often as possible, you should keep the feathered animals in a species-appropriate manner and ensure their well-being:
- Clean environment (barn and freewheel!)
- A dirty barn is mental stress for chickens
- Sufficient free space (green space, dust baths, etc.)
- Quiet and dark laying nests
- Quality food
Chickens are omnivores and have a very varied diet. They love pecking at green spaces for grains and seeds, but also for insects and other small animals. So that they really get all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in sufficient quantities, it is worth providing the animals with high-quality feed as well.
- Always freshwater
- fruit and vegetables
- protein (!)
- High lime content
Already knew? The calcium content of the feed affects the strength of the eggshell, so a high calcium content in the feed is recommended.
The temperatures also have an effect on laying performance, because both heat and cold bother the animals. Many chickens cannot lay eggs, especially during the cold season, as they use all of their energy to balance their body temperature.
For this reason, the environment of the animals should always be adapted to the respective weather conditions so that they have protection from cold, heat, and rain.
- Too hot: temperatures above 86 F degrees
- Ensure sufficient ventilation in the barn
- Provide shade (e.g. trees, bushes) when running freely
- Too cold: temperatures below 50 F degrees
- Heat lamp or heater in stable
- Isolate barn!
Not only the temperatures but also the light conditions have an influence on the laying performance: the more light the hens receive, the more likely they will lay more eggs. For this reason, it is advisable to provide the feathered animals with around 14 hours a day of light.
In summer, this is generally not a problem – it is different during winter when the sun rises late and sets early. In order to promote laying performance, it is therefore worth using additional light sources in winter:
- Around 14 hours of light per day
- Be sure to turn off the light in the evening!
- Ensures relaxation and restful sleep
- It is best to use a dimmer
- Turn off the light slowly
“Molting” is a completely natural phenomenon in which chickens renew their plumage: they shed old and worn-out feathers so that new, fine and dense plumage can grow back.
The change of plumage is very strenuous for the animals, which is why they hardly have any energy left for egg production. In order to provide the best possible support for chickens during the molt, self-supporters can do the following:
- Increase the lime content of the feed
- eg: with shell grit or eggshells