One of the best things about keeping chickens is that they lay eggs regularly. You can roughly expect an egg per chicken per day. Eggs should be collected daily to prevent predators (like rodents) from attempting to steal them and to keep your birds laying them daily. But what about male chickens? Do they, and can they lay eggs? Intrigued, I decided to conduct some research on the egg-making and laying processes of these birds. I would like to present to you my findings here today.
So do male chickens lay eggs? Male chickens (roosters) do not lay eggs. Only female chickens (hens) lay eggs. Inside the developing ovary of every hen are hundreds of potential eggs, an organ male chickens do not possess. A female chicken will typically lay an egg a day during her egg-laying years and can do so with or without the presence of a male chicken. A male chicken is only required to fertilize an egg.
There are hundreds of breeds of chicken, each with subtle differences and individual traits.
However, when it comes to reproductive processes, this is pretty much the same between them.
All breeds of chickens possess the same internal biology that works according to the same schedule.
Perhaps the standout reason why male chickens do not lay eggs is that they physically cannot. They do not share the same organs which are used to do so.
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Let’s examine the process in the following sections in more depth to help you get a better understanding of why.
Can Male Chickens Lay Eggs?
No, male chickens cannot lay eggs. Ovaries are required to lay eggs, which only female species have.
In the case of chickens, that is hens. A weird fact about hens is that they have only one working ovary, despite being born with two ovaries.
From the moment hens hatch, one ovary continues to develop inside the hen’s body, and one just stops.
The reason hens may have only one functioning ovary might be a way to keep streamlined to avoid unnecessary bulk.
In the next few sections, we will look at how female chickens develop the yolk part of the egg, before we look at the process of how the white and eggshell forms:
How The Yolk Of The Egg Forms
When a hen reaches laying age, usually around the five-month mark, some of the ova inside the hen’s ovary begins to develop into an egg yolk.
Every yolk (ovum) is contained inside its own follicle. When the yolk is ready to move on to the next stage, it moves away from its follicle.
After it moves out of the ovary and down the oviduct (or reproductive tract), the white of the egg forms, and the egg is ready to be laid.
How The White Of The Egg Forms
This process can take more than four hours.
The yolk moves away from the ovary and enters the oviduct via the infundibulum (the entrance to the oviduct ).
The infundibulum is where fertilization of the egg occurs if a rooster was present. Whether a rooster is present or not, the yolk travels down the magnum and isthmus divisions of the oviduct.
These divisions are where the egg white ( or albumen ) forms around the yolk, a thin layer develops on the outside and holds everything together.
Chalaza, ( either of two spiral rings in the white of a hen’s egg ) extends from the yolk and attaches to opposite ends of the lining membrane.
At this stage, the egg begins to look more like an egg, only without the outer shell.
How The Eggshell Forms
The shell takes about twenty hours to grow and usually another hour or more for the color to develop around the outer shell.
The formation of the egg continues as the shell develops in the uterus through the shell gland. The outermost layer of the eggshell is known as the cuticle or the bloom.
This outer layer forms an antimicrobial barrier on the shell.
Do Female Chickens Need Males To Lay Eggs?
Hens do not need a rooster present to lay eggs. The hen will lay eggs on the same schedule with or without a male on the scene.
Hens lay eggs continuously whether or not a male (Rooster) is present; it does not affect their egg-laying schedule at all.
Each egg takes between 24 to 26 hours to form. This is excellent news if you want to keep background chickens for their eggs, without all the drama.
Males have no part to play in the egg-laying process, except when it comes to fertilizing an egg in the hope of laying eggs containing new young chicks.
The entrance of the oviduct or infundibulum is where a rooster has the opportunity to fertilize an egg.
Have you ever noticed that little white spot on an egg yolk – that is a single female cell called a blastodisc, if a rooster fertilizes that cell with his sperm, embryo development, and cell division begins, turning the blastodisc into a blastoderm.
In technical terms, the blastoderm is the true egg.
Soon after fertilization, the blastoderm begins to divide into 2,4,8 and even more cells. The embryonic stage begins, and development continues until the egg is laid.
After fertilization, the egg grows and becomes a chick – only fertilized eggs produce chicks. The chicks grow and become either hens or roosters.
Hens lay eggs via their cloacas. Eggs depart the same vent used for everything a hen eliminates, the tissue of the uterus stretches with the egg until the egg is completely out of the vent.
Half an hour after a hen lays, the same process repeats itself.
Most hens lay more eggs in spring and summer and dwindle during the fall and winter. Hens require long days to lay eggs.
Some chicken keepers choose to add natural light to the coop to extend egg production, but that is a personal choice each chicken keeper makes.
To put it succinctly, hens do not need roosters to lay eggs only to fertilize them.
Male chickens do not lay eggs; only female chickens do – this is all down to basic biology.
Females lay eggs, whether a rooster is present or not, and having them around or absent in no way impedes their schedule.
Hens have only one functioning ovary, despite being born with two, yet this is how eggs develop. When a rooster is present, an egg can be fertilized in the entrance to the oviduct.
A single female cell is called a blastodisc, and when a rooster fertilizes that cell, embryo development, and cell division begin turning a blastodisc into blastoderm and eventually into a cute chick.
It’s useful to know that hens lay eggs continuously, and the process takes between 24 to 26 hours, and it is a complicated method.
Hens need lots of natural daylight to produce eggs as production dwindles in the fall and winter months. Making sure your girls have a plentiful supply of food and water, will keep them healthy and in peak condition for providing you with lots of tasty eggs.
Hens live eight years on average but lay eggs for two to three years maximum.
So you must look after your chicken’s health, particularly in those fruitful years.
Hens can lay eggs with or without a rooster present. Eggs that are laid during this time will be unfertilized and are typically used for food. A hen will only need a rooster for fertilization and for producing eggs with chicks.
A hen will start producing eggs when they reach maturity. This occurs only a few months after hatching. During this time, a hen’s hormones will stimulate and send a signal to her ovaries to make eggs. Those eggs can then be either fertilized or laid infertile. If the eggs are fertilized a young chick may be born. However, if the egg is not fertilized, you will receive an egg with a yolk that we use as a food source.
Looking to learn more about egg-laying in chickens? If so, my following guides may be of interest:
- How Long Does It Take For Chicken Eggs To Hatch?
- How Long Do Chickens Molt And Not Lay Eggs?
- How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
- Does It Hurt A Chicken To Lay An Egg?
- How Many Eggs Does A Chicken Lay In A Week?
- Can Chickens Lay 2 Eggs A Day?
- Why Do Chickens Peck Holes In Their Eggs?
- What Is A Fart Egg?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.