A huge benefit of keeping hens is the fresh eggs that they can lay. But what can you expect from your flock per week? How many hens will you need to keep in order to collect a decent amount? I spent some time researching into the egg-laying potential of various breeds to find out!
So, how many eggs does a chicken lay in a week? Chickens will typically lay between 3-7 eggs per week. Although it does depend on the breed of chicken, the season, the chicken’s age, dietary and environmental factors. In the winter, it is common for egg production to slow down, or for no eggs to be laid at all unless supplemental light is provided.
In the height of the summer, a healthy and well-laying hen of laying age can provide up to an egg per day!
Come the winter, it can all change.
As the nights draw in and the sun is unable to penetrate the sky for long; chickens are unable to obtain the light they need to produce their eggs.
And they need plenty of it – 14 hours being generally seen as the minimum. Anything lower, and egg production will suffer.
At this juncture, the keeper has two choices. To let their birds rest and recuperate during the colder season, or to provide artificial lighting to stimulate production.
The type of lighting that is used does not really matter, (a fluorescent or incandescent light works well) according to the Extension Poultry Specialist Jesse Lyons at the University of Missouri. But either way, it does need to be constant.
There are pros and cons to both ways, and moral arguments involved too. But this is certainly a topic for another time.
Let us now take a closer look at how many eggs a chicken will lay naturally before we turn to the individual breeds and what you can expect, per week, per month and per year.
So, if you are yet to select your breed of chicken and are mostly interested in the eggs, you want to ensure you keep on reading!
- 1 How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay Naturally?
- 2 Egg Laying Expectation Per Week, Per Breed
- 3 How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Dozen Eggs A Week?
- 4 How Long Can A Chicken Go Without Laying An Egg?
- 5 Finally
How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay Naturally?
The number of eggs a chicken will lay naturally, and how often, will largely depend on the breed of chicken.
Some chickens are capable of laying an egg every day, nearly every day of the year, whereas others may only be capable of laying 2-3 eggs per week; taking a break from production in the winter season.
There are considered to be three several areas that have a significant impact on egg production, regardless of breed. Let us now take a closer look at them in further detail:
First and foremost, a hen needs to be off egg-laying age. A young hen (pullet) will only lay her first egg at around 18 weeks of age. It will take her up until 6 months to start laying consistently.
However, chickens will not produce the same amount of eggs throughout their lifetime.
They do experience a peak in terms of egg-laying potential, the first year of laying, which naturally declines with age (as figure 1 shows below).
As you can see, after 2-3 years productivity declines quite a bit, although it does vary from bird to bird.
Good layers typically lay for between 50-60 weeks before going through a rest period known as a molt.
It is generally acknowledged that less efficient layers and older hens will molt more, and lay less consistently as they age.
So, taking these numbers further:
Yearly Egg Laying Potential
|Egg Laying Potential||Year 2||Year 3|
|A hen that lays 300 eggs in her first year||250||200|
|A hen that lays 250 eggs in her first year||215||160|
|A hen that lays 200 eggs in her first year||170||130|
This is all down to the biological processes involved with aging; there is nothing you can do to prevent this natural decline.
Another important aspect of egg production and laying, is daylight.
Chickens need at least 14 hours per day to lay eggs, anything less and you will notice a decline, or even cessation, in production.
This is of course entirely possible in the summer months, so long as you are letting your birds out early in the morning and as close to sunrise as you can. Besides this is when chickens will wake up.
The decreasing daylength during the fall and shorter day lengths of the winter, however, will have an impact. It is here that supplemental light may be provided to keep birds laying. Although it does takes its toll on a bird that would otherwise be naturally at rest.
Hens not provided with supplemental light, and only exposed to natural daylight will likely resume egg production in the spring.
Diet and Nutrition
Laying chickens need a balanced and healthy diet in order to maximize their egg production. Any deficiencies will lead to a decline.
It could be through insufficient energy intake, protein, fat or even the mineral calcium.
This is why it is considered essential to provide a constant and regular supply of high quality layer feed to your flock.
Organic layer pellets are typically the best option.
Its also true that chickens need to be well taken care of in order to lay their eggs.
The main ones that can induce stress and limit egg production include:
- Presence of mold and mycotoxins in the coop,
- Insufficient water intake,
- Heat stress and a lack of ventilation in the coop,
- Parasites such as lice, fleas and mites,
- Diseases such as Coccidiosis, Infectious Bronchitis and Influenza,
- Prescence of predators
Ultimately it’s about reducing stress and creating an environment conducive to efficient egg-laying.
This University of Florida resource is great if you want to learn more about the factors that can impact production.
Egg Laying Expectation Per Week, Per Breed
The breed of chicken that you own makes a massive difference in the number of eggs you can expect per day, or per week.
Thus, choosing the right breed of chicken is essential if you a primarily keeping birds for their eggs.
Below, we break down the most commonly kept breeds and their average egg production/output across the different timeframes:
|Chicken Breed||Egg Laying Expectation, Per Week||Egg Laying Expectation, Per Month||Egg Laying Expectation, Per Year|
|Japanese Bantam (Chabo)||2-3||8-9||50-100|
|Rhode Island Red||5-6||20-25||250-300|
I’ve sorted the table in order of low to high egg producing breeds.
So as you can see, if eggs are your goal and you are yet to get your birds – look no further than the White Leghorn.
Of course, we do need to take into account the natural decline in egg production here too.
Another thing to consider is that not all eggs will be the same – both in terms of size and in color.
So, it does depend on what you want and if this is going to be an issue for you.
Some people just do not like white eggs, for instance.
Let us now look at what each of these common breeds produce:
|Chicken Breed||Egg Color||Egg Size|
|Japanese Bantam (Chabo)||Cream/Brown||Very Small|
|Plymouth Rock||Light Brown||Small to Medium|
|Hamburg||White||Small to Medium|
|Buff Orpington||Light brown||Large|
|Rhode Island Red||Brown||Medium-Sized|
|Easter Egger||Greenish-blue/ Light blue||Medium to Large|
How Many Chickens Do I Need For A Dozen Eggs A Week?
The number of chickens you will need for a dozen eggs per week will depend on the breed and the age of your birds. However, you will generally need a flock between 2-4 birds.
Assuming that you are owning hens of good laying ability, and they are provided with the right diet and environment, it breaks down roughly as follows:
|Chicken Breed||Number of Chickens Required|
|Japanese Bantam (Chabo)||4|
|Rhode Island Red||2-3|
Again, you will need to consider the size of the eggs too.
A dozen eggs from a Silkie will not be the same as from a Buff Orpington for instance.
How Long Can A Chicken Go Without Laying An Egg?
Chickens can go several months without laying an egg, and some can even exceed a year without laying. It ultimately depends on why they have stopped laying, to begin with.
Some reasons are natural responses, whereas others can be fixed with a few changes and overcoming an issue that may be ceasing production:
Let us now take a closer look at the following reasons
From 18 years of age, and anually thereafter, chickens will go through what is known as a molt. This is essentially where they lose their feathers and regrow them.
Its commonly experienced during the autumn, but often goes hand in hand with lower egg production or no laying at all.
This is because a hen will redirect its energy from producing eggs to growing new feathers.
Molting typically lasts for 8-16 weeks, with egg-laying returning to normal once the new set of feathers come in.
However, some keepers have reported that their birds have not resumed laying since going into a molt the year before.
We’ve already touched on daylight, so depending on your location you may notice that your birds do not lay an egg throughout the winter season.
This can last from anywhere between 1-3 months, although spring and the increase in light exposure, usually brings about the resumption of laying.
Stress and The Coop Environment
If your chickens are too stressed, they can stop laying indefinitely. They may only resume laying once the stressor has been identified and resolved.
Stress can come from various different places, with the most common being:
- Bullying or aggression in the flock,
- Loud noises,
- Inappropriate heating (heat or cold),
- Injury and/or illness.
So, you need to ensure that you are regularly monitoring your birds and ensuring they are happy and healthy.
Ensuring your coop and run is predator proof, clean and free from any pests is crucial.
You also want to ensure that your birds have sufficient space, both inside the coop and outdoors. 4 square feet per bird inside, and 5-10 square foot outside are the minimums.
You’ll also want to make sure that you routinely clean the coop, and that your birds have access to a clean nesting box with comfortable bedding.
For any bullying, you may need to work on the flock and provide some extra TLC to vulnerable birds. Helping them to re-integrate may get them to lay again.
Lastly, be sure to check the temperatures of the coop and ensure they are comfortable; not too different from outside.
Overheating is easily done; chickens are very resilient to the cold and do not necessarily require supplemental heat. If you decide to do so, only raise the temperature by a few degrees.
If you are to identify any areas of care that are causing stress and resolve them in a timely manner, you should notice your bird’s resume laying.
But, always be sure to look thoroughly – it may well be your hens are hiding their eggs, or even nesting elsewhere outside the coop!
Not all chickens will lay the same amount of eggs per week.
There are actually several important factors involved that will impact what you will receive from your flock.
Some will be completely out of your control. Others you may be able to influence.
Either way, what is important to set your expectations realistically from the outset and ensure you take the best care of your birds.
At the end of the day, happy and healthy birds that are well taken care of will maximize their natural production.