Backyard Chickens are a new type of family pet

How Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

This article is written by our friends over at backyardchickenscoop.com.

Some say that the egg is just as incredible as it is edible, but we owe the wonder of eggs to the wonders of chickens. Chickens are incredible animals for their relative ease of maintenance and amusing personalities that simultaneously yield a bounty of fresh eggs. As wonderful as chickens are, they aren’t immune to problems. One of the responsibilities of being a successful chicken owner is knowing how to take care of your chicken. If you’ve ever wondered how do I know if my chicken is in pain, you’ll find information below that will help you to better understand your chicken’s natural egg-laying habits as well as how to help your chicken if it’s ever feeling less than stellar.

 

How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay Naturally

The modern chicken has been carefully bred to specifically produce as many eggs as possible. The ancestors of the modern chicken, wild jungle fowl, will typically only lay 10-15 eggs a year. Given modern breeding, hens can lay anywhere from 200-300 eggs in a year depending on the breed, diet and how old the chicken is. There are periods of the year, specifically winter and when the chicken is moulting, where hens may not lay eggs at all or lay eggs with less frequency. Likewise, if your hen is stressed, ill or infected with a parasite, egg-laying will also be affected.

 

When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs

Chickens start laying eggs when they are 18 weeks of age. Once again, this varies based on the breed, the environmental circumstances (temperature, daylight) and the health of your chicken. To ensure adequate egg-laying, it’s recommended to feed your chicken feed with a higher protein content during their egg-laying period.

 

What Time Of Day Do Chickens Lay Eggs

Your chicken is a light-sensitive creature and daylight will affect many aspects of your chicken’s habits, including when it lays its eggs. Generally, chickens prefer to lay eggs during the morning, or at least the first 6 hours of the day. Once again, laying habits can vary based on the breed as well as any other deviations in diet, season or environment, but when there is sufficient daylight, you’ll probably find an egg in the morning.

 

How Do Chickens Lay Eggs Every Day

Part of a chicken’s “wild” instinct is to lay eggs that they incubate to hopefully hatch into chicks. This wild tendency is known as laying a clutch of eggs, or approximately 10-12 eggs that a hen will sit on so they can hatch. If you harvest eggs daily, then your chicken will be unable to lay enough eggs to reach the clutch stage and will continue to lay eggs, thinking that she will eventually reach this stage. This is why it’s important to harvest your chicken’s eggs daily so that you can prevent your chicken from attempting to brood and raise her eggs prematurely (though you probably will encounter a broody hen regardless).

 

Why Does A Chicken Lay Unfertilized Eggs?

Critical to the egg-laying process is whether the eggs are fertilized or unfertilized. A fertilized egg is an egg that has been fertilized with sperm that can then potentially develop into a viable chicken. Unfertilized eggs have not been exposed to sperm and therefore will be unable to develop into a chick, even if a hen or you incubate the eggs. If you want fertilized eggs, then you will need a rooster to service your hens. Even if you have a rooster, fertilized eggs will only develop into chickens if a hen lays on the eggs for at least 3 weeks or if the eggs are properly incubated. If you want to keep your eggs unfertilized or keep potentially fertilized eggs from developing into embryos and chicks, avoiding roosters and broody hens while keeping your eggs chilled will prevent development.

 

How Do Chickens Lay Eggs

The egg-laying process is an incredibly fascinating aspect of your chicken’s life. Similar to other animals, when a chicken is born it contains all of the ovaries it can deposit in its lifetime. Eggs start out as immature yolks; when a hen reaches egg-laying maturity, every 24 hours one of these yolks is mature enough to then become an egg. It enters the chicken’s oviduct where, if the hen has encountered a rooster, it would then become fertilized.

With or without the rooster, the egg will continue through the oviduct and gain the layers of egg white, which serve as nourishment for a developing embryo, as well as bloom, a cuticle that protects the embryo as it’s developing from any intruding pathogens. At the end of the oviduct is the shell gland which coats the egg in its typical hard shell and which pushes the egg through the cloaca, the opening in the chicken were eggs and faeces exit, and towards the chicken’s vent that releases the egg. Given the shape and positioning of the shell gland, it effectively seals the chicken’s intestinal tract while a chicken is laying eggs, ensuring that only a sanitary egg emerges from your chicken.

 

Learn much more on how to keep chickens as pets in the backyard over at backyardchickenscoop.com.