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How many eggs does a chicken lay each year?

soft bolied eggThis desperate string of words comes up a lot on search terms that have led people to our site, particularly at this time of year.

People buy pullets in the summer and expect an egg a day from all of them, immediately. We made the same mistake. Our first six months of keeping hens was just husbandry without the egg tithes. We couldn’t understand it. They had a big run, good food, fresh water every day. They also had The Ritz (a hen house version) to roost in and a quiet, snug hay filled nesting box in which to relax and lay eggs. Every day, after they arrived, I checked the nesting box. I was amazed that I didn’t get repetitive strain injury, as I checked at lunchtime and in the evening as well.

We bought our first six bantams in August 2003. Not a single hen had any interest in the nesting box, it was left totally undisturbed. When I lifted the hatch and spotted the first egg in January 2004 I rushed back to the cottage and considered ringing The Times. Danny was suspicious. He examined the egg carefully and announced,
“It’s the first one. It may not be quite right. Throw it away.”

I boiled it gently and enjoyed the freshest egg that I had ever tasted.

The wait for eggs can be a long one. If you bought your hens this summer and still have no eggs you are likely not to have eggs until January. You are probably doing nothing wrong. Possibly the hens that you bought were immature. Carol hatched on April 23 2004 she laid her first egg early in January 2005. She is a Maran, a laying breed. This does not mean that she will lay 365 days a year. She came into lay in January about a month after December 21st when the days start to get longer. She lays an egg a day until the end of August. The egg laying gradually tails off to a stop around now. She is moulting a bit and will now rest until January. And why not? Even hens need holidays.

Carol is over three years old. A younger hen would probably keep on laying until October. That’s why loads of people knock the two year old hens on the head and replace them with pullets. Younger birds, when they start to lay, are more proficient in their egg laying. And their egg laying window is longer, with a higher yield throughout the egg laying season. Until now, Carol has rewarded us with an egg a day when she is in egg laying mode. Next year it could be an egg every other day.

Carol, like all our chickens, is a pet. She will live with us until the end. All our hens have stopped laying for this year apart from one four year old bantam. She is laying for England. Small, sweet eggs that are stashed in the larder and soft boiled for breakfast on days when we need the extra voompf that only an ultra fresh egg can give.


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61 Comments

  1. hello i am plaining on getting red rock cross chickens, i was wondering if you know how many eggs the hens will lay?
    thanks

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Dot

    Yes egg laying will often stop over the winter and start again in January when the days are getting longer again.

    Egg laying drops of from the age of two years but we have a six year old hen who is still firing on all cylinders.

  3. We are new to this chicken lark. We have just aquired 4 Rhode Island Reds- 1 cockerel and 3 hens, who we believe to be 2 years old.So far we have had two eggs a day but will this stop now the nights are closing in and if so, when will production begin again? Also, at what age will they stop laying?
    Thanks.

  4. Thanks. I had best go dig out the most battered old broody coop for him – or introduce him to some new girlfriends. He has a thing for the bigger girls, and they look on him with some amusement and tolerate his half hearted attempts at love.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi JulieC

    The problem about keeping a cockerel with a hen and chicks is that the can easily get trampled and a hen needs to give all her attention to the chicks. So if it’s at all possible you need to separate your cockerel asap to give the hen and chicks the best possible chance.

  6. Hi, I have only just registered on this site, and kept meaning to have a proper look, but circumstances have got ahead of me. So I would like to ask a panicked question – one of my pekins has been sitting, but I wasn’t convinced that she would be successful. Today she is proving me wrong – the problem is, her boyfriend, Bruce, a gentle pekin cockerel is still in with her and is very interested. He did send her back to her clutch when she stayed out too long, but I have never left a broody with a cockerel before (we have had 8 banties go broody and hatch this year, so short on coops!). What are the chances of Bruce doing something bad? He has heard the cheeps for some time and has not pestered the eggs?
    Help!

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Julia

    Aren’t baby chicks wonderful.

    I’ve heard that black rocks are great layers. All our hens stop laying in the winter.

    Hi Ronnytigs

    I had no idea that my flock would give me such enormous pleasure too. They add so much entertainment to working in the kitchen garden alongside the run.

    They all have distinct personalities too.

  8. Ronnytigs

    I have had rescue battery hens for the last 10 months. Unfortunately two of my first five were killed by the neighbour’s dogs who burrowed under the fence (terriers)and one died through natural causes, but I have obtained another two and they are the funniest creatures I have ever had the privilege of looking after. :o)

    I presume because they ARE ex-bats, that from 4 hens most days I get 3 to 4 eggs, However the supply is dwindling with the daylight hours, and I fully expect a moult any time soon.

    It’s rather nice to know which hen lays which egg. One refuses to lay in the beautiful comfy nest boxes, and has made a nest at the opposite end of the garden.

    I can’t think of anything that has given me more pleasure than looking after them They are a constant delight to my elderly mother too, who roars with laughter watching them high tail from one end of the garden to the other at any sign of FOOD. lol

    I wonder what happened to Julie’s chick in the end?

  9. Hi all,
    Well its nice to have found a chick community! We have some Black Rock hens who we got at the point of lay, and they have been good layers, they usually lay one a day each even through the winter.
    We have also had a broody hen which I put some fertilised eggs under, she hatched 4 out of 6, they are about 3 weeks old now and she is a proper mother hen, chattering away to them & teaching them to feed etc.

  10. Hey, We will be getting some rhode island reds but apparently they will be in molt, will this affect their laying? Also when you have a broody hen should you just keep it on its own even if you dont want chicks?

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