The Cottage Smallholder

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How many eggs does a chicken lay each week?

three eggs in a basket“How come there were only four eggs in the basket this morning?'”
Danny asked when he brought in my breakfast tray.
Admittedly I had given John Coe four when he came to mow the lawn this week, but only eight in a week! Danny was concerned, “What are we going to do about our fry ups?”

Danny’s mother kept chickens when he was a child and as a Poultry Instructor, passed on her knowledge. Despite this both of us were a bit naive when it came to keeping chickens ourselves. Just before we collected our chickens three years ago, I bought a pretty little basket in a sale in Newmarket. We planned to buy six hens and I assumed that I’d collect six eggs a day. That basket gathered dust whilst we waited for the first egg.

We bought hens on ‘point of lay’ and threw a party to celebrate their arrival. The guests peered through the gloom at the hens and discussed how to deal with an egg glut. After the party we decided to ask our chicken feed supplier for advice. As we had zero eggs, we must be doing something wrong.

‘Try these,’ he said, producing a box of china eggs with a flourish. ˜The hens will take a peek at them and it will give them the idea.’ I hurried home, opened the nesting box and made plump tempting nests of sweet smelling hay to hold the china eggs.

The chickens seemed happy enough. I observed them having dust baths, sunbathing on the warm roof of their ‘day centre’ and running for a handful of grain in the afternoon. Every day I peeped into the immaculate but egg-free nesting box and trudged back to the house, disappointed. Summer turned to Autumn and then to Winter. ‘Hens go off lay in the Winter, so don’t expect any eggs until the Spring,’ a kind friend advised. I could have hit her.

We were away over New Year and when we got back, there were only five chickens in the pen. I opened the hen house door and there was the sixth hen, absorbed in her task. She barely noticed me as she was clearly straining. I rushed back to the house to tell Danny the breaking news. We crept down to the hen house an hour later and saw our first egg lying resplendent in a clutch of white china fakes.

Tricks and Tips:

  • Chickens are at their egg laying prime for the first two years. After this, their egg laying decreases as they get older. Serious egg producers replace their hens after two years.
  • Chickens are seasonal layers. When daylight hours are short their laying decreases. Laying gradually builds up from January and starts to decrease from mid September.
  • Before you get your first chickens decide whether they are going to be layers or pets, or a mix. If you are going to replace them after a couple of years, don’t give them names. Danny named each of our chickens when they arrived (we got a mix). Need I say more?

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  1. tractorfactorsteve

    in my ‘how to keep hens’ book it recommends using barley straw or softwood shavings as hay attracts mites. i know it should be nicer for the poor little hens’ botties to use hay but apparently not…anyway, they make a smooth ‘bowl’ for their eggies to nestle in, with no stickey up bits. after this year’s harvest i nicked an armful of wheat straw from an adjoining field. it was far too tough for their feet so didn’t even bother putting it in their nestbox.

  2. Please would you advise? I had 3 hens and 1 cock. Hens are aged between 1 and 4 years. This summer, our only layer went off lay. We expected the younger hens to lay but got nothing. In exasperation, I bought 3 new hens who were at point of lay. 6 weeks later, I still have no eggs. What am I doing wrong?

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Peggy,

    You are doing nothing wrong. I would expect the 4 year old hen not to lay much. The younger ones should ideally be laying by now. However they can take longer to start laying depending on the season. After the shortest day (December 21) things should start turning around.

    We bought some point of lay hens one August. We got our first egg in January!

    The breed can also have an impact on laying. Our pekin bantams are poor layers, whereas our Maran lays an egg a day.

  4. Our ‘point of lay’ Lincolnshire Buff hens, bought in the summer a few years ago, started laying on January 1st! They stopped laying around late August and for the next 2 years started again on . . . the 1st of January!! A nice way to start the new year.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Our first egg was laid on January 1st too!

  6. I am still waiting for our first eggs from our Lincolnshire Buff chickens, and I will be happy if they start on January 1st as they have with Mildred above! Apparently patience is a virtue.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi John

    I reckon that most of us initially buy chickens ‘on point of lay’ and expect them to start laying within a week or so. Looking at the search terms that draw people to this site
    ˜How many eggs does a chicken lay a year/week/day™ and even, once in a while, an hour (!).

    I felt such a fool when we got chickens and offered the excess to the neighbours…

    I suspect that the point on ‘point of lay’ is so broad that you can’t see the horizon.

    Not long until January. I’d love to hear when your Lincolnshire Buff chickens finally lay an egg.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  8. I started with a flock of 6 hens this Summer most were 18 weeks old. All different rare breeds and very happy scratching about in the garden. It has taken up until now to get any eggs, I have now got two laying aprox an egg a day in December. To celebrate I bought two more hens! My husband jokes about how much each egg has cost us to produce! The hens are lovely though and finding an egg is still such a marvel! I’m pleased read that they might continue for longer over Winter.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Zoe,

    Collecting your own eggs is such a magical experience especially if you have waited months for the event! If your two hens have started laying they probably will continue through the winter. I have found that extreme weather sometimes knocks them back for a bit.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  10. I’m confused. I’m doing a project on chickens but I don’t understand how many eggs they a lay a day or week? 1 a day, 7 a week?

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