How many eggs does a chicken lay in a day? A simple question, with a slightly complicated answer.
When planning your flock one important consideration is egg production. If you are keeping chickens for their eggs, you’ll need to know how many birds you’ll need to provide for your family.
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How is an egg formed?
Physiologically speaking, it takes time to lay an egg. Eggs start in the ovary, much like humans. During ovulation, a yolk is released into the oviduct. The yolk moves through the oviduct, where it is fertilized (if a rooster is present) and the egg white (or albumen) is deposited. As the egg moves into the uterus, the yolk is encapsulated in the shell, the shell is colored, and the bloom adhered. The egg then continues through the uterus to be laid. This entire process takes 24-26 hours.
If you want to get scientific, check out this free Google Book by the Alberta Poultry Research Centre, University of Alberta: Optimizing Chick Production in Broiler Breeders
An Egg a day
It is a common misunderstanding that chicken lays an egg a day, every day. Even though an egg takes 24-26 to form, she does not always start a new cycle immediately after an egg is laid.
“Because a hen’s reproductive system is sensitive to light exposure, eventually the hen will lay too late in a day for its body to begin forming a new egg. The hen will then skip a day or more before laying again.”Source: https://articles.extension.org/pages/71004/raising-chickens-for-egg-production
Two Or More Eggs A Day?
Chickens will sometimes release two yolks at the same time. This is most common with young hens who are maturing, or a sign that a bird is being overfed.
Often, these two yolks will be encapsulated into one double yolk egg. However, a hen may lay two eggs in one day. (source– page 8)
Therefore, a chicken could potentially lay two eggs a day, but no more.
Three Eggs A Day
If you found three eggs from one chicken, then you have some investigation to do. You may have a “rooster” that is actually a hen, a family member playing a joke on you, maybe you forgot to collect eggs the day before- or missed one, or maybe your hen laid an egg after you collected them. Two eggs from one chicken is rare, three is not possible.
Changes in laying
Sometimes chickens have a change in their laying pattern. Last week you were getting 14 eggs a day, and this week you got 2. But why?!
Winter reduction in production
Most chickens stop laying or decrease significantly in the winter. As the days become shorter, the lack of sunlight decreases her hormone levels and egg production slows down significantly. A full explanation of why hens lay fewer eggs in winter and possible solutions is available here.
Some breeds are known to be better layers than others. Taking a look at MorningChores.com, breeds like the White Leghorn and Rhode Island Red lay approximately 250-300 eggs a year or almost 5 per week. Modern Games, on the other hand, are poor egg layers.
So, it is likely safe to assume that in the first 2 years, you’ll get about 5 eggs per week from each bird. When you are deciding how many chickens you should start out with, I would always recommend purchasing a few more than you think you’ll need. That way if you lose one or two, or maybe they end up being roosters, you’ll still have plenty of hens. And no one ever complained about too many eggs!
Other factors like age contribute to the number of eggs you’ll collect in a day. The first two years of a hens life are her most prolific. After this, her egg production will decrease each year.
Since eggs are made of protein, a bird lacking in protein will lay fewer eggs. Once 20 weeks of age, laying hens should be fed a 15-18% protein feed. Anything less than this is not conducive to egg production.
Too many treats
Offering your bird too many treats, like scratch grains and table scraps, decreases the birds daily protein intake. These treats are like french fries and the birds fill up on them. Because they are full, they won’t eat as much of their protein rich layer feed, so their daily protein intake is decreased.
Molting is an annual process where the birds systematically replace their feathers by dropping the old feathers and growing new ones. This often happens in the fall. Most birds won’t molt their first fall- though some do.
The process of growing new feathers is very stressful on the birds body and requires a lot of protein (feathers are made of keratin, which is a protein).
Sick, Injured & Stressed birds
Injured and unwell birds won’t be at maximum egg productions while their body focuses on recovery efforts.
Birds with parasites, disease, or stress will also lay fewer eggs. Some common causes of stress is predator harassment, temperatures too hot or cold (45-85 degrees F is optimal), over mating by a rooster, being bullied by other birds, molting, and being moved to a new pen or flock.
It takes just over a day to physically form an egg, so the best laying breeds are capable of laying about 5-6 eggs per week. You may hear others claim their chickens lay two eggs a day, but this is quite uncommon.
For tips on increasing egg production, read here.
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“10 Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds (up to 300 per Year!).” MorningChores, 20 Aug. 2019, morningchores.com/egg-laying-chickens/.
“Chicken Breeds – Modern Game.” My Pet Chicken, www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/Modern-Game-B74.aspx.
Damerow, Gail. “Does a Hen Lay an Egg Every Day?:
“An Egg a Day – the Physiology of Egg Formation.” An Egg a Day – the Physiology of Egg Formation – LOHMANN TIERZUCHT GmbH, www.ltz.de/en/news/lohmann-information/An-egg-a-day-the-physiology-of-egg-formation.php.
“FEEDING CHICKENS FOR EGG PRODUCTION IN SMALL AND BACKYARD FLOCKS.” Small and Backyard Poultry, poultry.extension.org/articles/feeds-and-feeding-of-poultry/feeding-chickens-for-egg-production/.
“Formation of the Egg – Optimum Egg Quality: A Practical Approach – The Poultry Site: The Poultry Site.” Formation of the Egg – Optimum Egg Quality: A Practical Approach – The Poultry Site | The Poultry Site, thepoultrysite.com/publications/egg-quality-handbook/2/formation-of-the-egg.
“Formation.” Incredible Egg, www.incredibleegg.org/eggcyclopedia/f/formation.
Hen Welfare Trust. “How Does My Hen Produce an Egg Every Day? Find out Here!” BHWT, 6 Feb. 2017, www.bhwt.org.uk/produce/.