A simple question with a somewhat complicated answer.
When planning your flock, egg production is an important consideration. If you keep chickens for their eggs, you need to know how many birds you need to support your family.
How is an egg formed?
Physiologically, it takes time to lay an egg. Eggs begin in the ovary, similar to humans. During ovulation, a yolk is released into the fallopian tube. The yolk travels down the fallopian tube, where it is fertilized (if a rooster is present) and the albumen (or albumen) is deposited. As the egg moves into the uterus, the yolk becomes encapsulated in the shell, the shell becomes colored, and the bloom attaches. The egg then continues through the uterus to be laid. This entire process takes 24-26 hours.
One egg per day:
It’s a common misconception that chickens lay an egg every day. Although an egg takes 24-26 to form, she doesn’t always start a new cycle immediately after an egg is laid.
Two or more eggs a day?
Chickens sometimes release two yolks at once. This is most common in young hens that are maturing, or a sign that a bird is overfeeding. Often these two yolks are encapsulated into a double-yolk egg. However, a hen can lay two eggs in one day.
Therefore, a chicken could potentially lay two eggs a day, but no more.
Three eggs a day
Once you’ve found three eggs from a chicken, you’ll need to do some research. Maybe you have a “rooster” who is actually a hen, a family member is playing a prank on you, maybe you forgot to collect eggs the day before – or missed one, or maybe your hen laid an egg after you collected them to have. Two eggs from a hen are rare, three is not possible.
Changes in the laying:
Chickens sometimes have an altered laying pattern. Last week they were getting 14 eggs a day and this week 2. But why?!
Reduction of production in winter
Most chickens stop laying in winter or lose significant weight. As the days get shorter, the lack of sunlight lowers their hormone levels and egg production slows down significantly.
Some breeds are known to be better layers than others. If you look at breeds like the White Leghorn and Rhod Island Red, they lay around 250-300 eggs a year, or close to 5 a week.
In most cases, the chicks sold in feed stores are good or very good layer breeds – typically Production Reds, Australorps, Leghorns, Buff Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, etc.
So you can expect to get around 5 eggs per week from each bird for the first 2 years. When deciding how many chickens to start with, I would always recommend buying a few more than you think you need. That way, if you lose one or two or maybe they are roosters, you still have plenty of chickens. And nobody has ever complained about too many eggs!
Other factors like age contribute to the number of eggs you collect in a day. The first two years of a hen’s life are her most fertile. After that, their egg production decreases every year.
Because eggs are made of protein, a bird that is deficient in protein will lay fewer eggs. From the age of 20 weeks, laying hens should be fed 15-18% protein feed. Anything else is not conducive to egg production.
Too many goodies
If you offer your bird too many treats, such as kibble and leftovers, the bird’s daily protein intake will decrease. These treats are like french fries and the birds fill up on them. Because they are full, they don’t eat as much of their protein-rich layer feed, so their daily protein intake is reduced.
Molting is an annual process in which the birds systematically replace their feathers by shedding the old feathers and growing new ones. This often happens in autumn. Most birds don’t shed their skin on the first fall – although some do.
The process of regrowing new feathers is very taxing on the bird’s body and requires a lot of protein (feathers are made of keratin, a protein).
Sick, injured & stressed birds:
Injured and sick birds will not achieve maximum egg production while their bodies focus on recovery efforts.
Birds with parasites, disease or stress also lay fewer eggs. Some common causes of stress are being harassed by predators, temperatures that are too hot or too cold (45-85 degrees F is optimal), excessive mating by a rooster, bullying by other birds, molting and moving to a new pen or flock.
It takes just over a day to form an egg, so the best layer breeds are capable of laying around 5-6 eggs a week. You may hear others claim their hens lay two eggs a day, but that’s pretty unusual.