When we get our backyard chickens, we are excited for all of the eggs. We can’t wait to eat the fruits of our labor and taste the difference in farm-fresh eggs. However, when we plan the number of chickens we have, there is one thing we need to ask. How many eggs do chickens lay in a year? From there, we can figure out our flock size and what to do with the extra eggs. So let’s take a look.
How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay In A Year?
The answer to this question isn’t so black and white. There are so many factors that determine how many eggs a chicken lay. But on average, good layers will lay about 250 eggs. However, not all chickens will lay this many. Some will lay more eggs, and many will lay fewer eggs. It is all in the genetics of your hen. So, let’s look at all the factors that affect how many eggs per year your hen will lay.
The chicken breeds are the biggest determinator for how many eggs you can expect a year. A decent egg laying breed will lay about 150-200 eggs per year, like the Easter Egger. But then some breeds of chickens, like the Rhode Island Red, can lay 200-300 per year. And the current record holder for the most chicken eggs laid a year is the White Leghorns, with 371 eggs in one year.
So as you can see, some chickens have superior genetics to be excellent producers. Yet, others lay very few eggs at all. Breeds like the Silkie may only lay 100 eggs a year. And while there are a few tricks to get more eggs from your hen, you can’t change the genetics of the breeds of hen.
#2 Laying Seasons
It’s only natural that a chicken’s peak production is spring through fall. And after that, they might take a little break in the winter months. But that’s not the case for every chicken breed. Some breeds are champ winter layers, like Orpingtons or Plymouth Rocks. And other breeds only lay eggs in the winter, like Brahmas.
But the winter isn’t the only time of year your hens will stop laying. There is also a brief period in the fall where they will start to molt. Most young hens will stop laying entirely during this time, and older hens might only lay one egg a week to conserve energy.
The longer your chicken’s natural laying season is, the more she will lay. But you might be able to get around this with some chickens. Keep reading to find out how.
Another factor of how many eggs do chickens lay in a year is their broodiness. Some chickens seem to get broody all the time. And when a chicken is broody, her egg production comes to a stop. But what does broody mean?
A broody hen wants to hatch a clutch of eggs. She will sit in the nest box constantly, reduce eating, and hardly move at all. And all the while, she won’t lay any more eggs. Most chickens will stay broody for 23 days unless you help them break the cycle. But if your hen is particularly broody, nothing stops her from going broody again in a few weeks.
Broodiness is also related to the chicken breeds. Breeds like the Red Comet are seldom broody. And others like Cochin seem always to want to hatch eggs. However, if you are want to breed your hens, having a few broody hens around will come in handy.
#4 Hens Age
And finally, how many eggs your chickens lay will be determined by their age. A chicken’s first egg usually comes around 16-24 weeks of age, but a few lay earlier than that. So it’s possible to have a young hen entirely skip their first year of laying if they hatch late in the season and aren’t winter layers.
But as your hen ages, you will also notice that their egg production isn’t what it used to be. After 3-4 years, you can expect a gradual decline in eggs every year. Usually, you won’t notice at first because the decrease is so slight. But by six years of age, you will see a considerable reduction in the number of eggs you get a week.
Can I Boost My Chicken’s Egg Production?
You can do a few things to boost the number of eggs your hens produce every year. With a few tricks, you will get the most out of your hens. So let’s look at the top industry secrets to get your hens laying when they’ve stopped.
The best way to get a hen laying is to feed her a well-rounded diet. Lots of protein and calcium are the most important for the best egg production. That’s why we recommend a quality layer feed and oyster shells for your hens at all times.
But it’s also a good idea to let your hens free range as much as possible. Hen’s capable of finding their own foods always produce more eggs with the richest egg yolks. Your hen’s will pick at grains, bugs, and fruits and vegetables in your garden to contribute to lots of eggs.
In the winter, most chickens stop laying eggs due to the decreased amount of sunlight. A chicken needs at least 16 hours of daylight to get their reproductive systems time to form eggs. So some farmers add a little light bulb inside the coop that goes off on a timer.
Adding a few hours of light to your chicken’s mornings will get them laying eggs again in no time. So remember to keep them warm and fed properly to roll out the most eggs.
The Molting Season
Every chicken will have a molt once a year in the early fall. During this time, she will shed her feathers for pretty new ones. But while this is good for keeping the hens looking beautiful, it also takes a lot of energy. Most chickens will stop laying eggs for molting to conserve protein for feather production.
Yet, you can help your chickens along and still get eggs with a proper diet. Many chicken owners find that switching to a grower feed with higher protein keeps their chickens laying. Or, at the least, it will speed up molting, and your hens will get back to laying faster.
Another trick to keep your chickens laying is to stop broody hens if you don’t intend to breed. There are many ways to prevent your hen from brooding. Most owners take the quick route of dunking her in cold water for a few minutes, but this isn’t always the best route.
You could also block the nesting boxes from your broody hen to keep her from sitting. Another tactic is to keep her in a cage separate from the coop to prevent her brooding tendencies. And, of course, you could replace the unfertilized eggs with fertile ones or baby chicks to sit on.
Once your hen feels herself again, she will go right back to her regular eating habits and egg production.
Can Chickens Lay Two Eggs A Day?
While there have been a few cases of a chicken laying two eggs a single day, it’s not common. In fact, some might argue that laying two eggs a day is unhealthy for a hen. The normal reproduction process takes an egg about 24 hours to form from the hen’s ovary to the oviduct. And a hen laying more than that could lead to serious health issues.
But what isn’t rare is a chicken laying double yolk eggs. This isn’t an attempt of laying two eggs a day. Instead, it’s usually from young chickens with immature reproductive systems that release two yolks into large eggs.
Why Is My Chicken Laying Fewer Eggs?
If your chicken has suddenly stopped laying eggs, there are a few things to consider:
- Is she sick? Check her abdomen to see if she’s egg-bound. Also, check her crop, comb color, and other symptoms. If you fix the illness, she will lay again.
- Is she getting old? If your hen is over 6, it might be the time that she slows down before retirement. After so many years, your hen deserves the rest.
- Is she eating a balanced diet? A hen that isn’t eating well won’t produce quality eggs. Oyster shells will keep the eggshells strong, and lots of protein will keep your hens laying. If you resolve the dietary issues, your hens will go back to top production status.
As You Can See, It’s Not An Exact Number
How many eggs do chickens lay in a year is a little fuzzy. But if you do a little research on your specific chicken breeds, you can have a better idea. Of course, even within the same breed, the number of eggs per year can differ. The only way to know for sure is to count each hen’s eggs. But as long as you’re getting a dozen eggs a week, you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!