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How Many Eggs Can a Chicken Lay in One Day?

Margo Upson
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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When a hen reaches 18 to 20 weeks of age, she begins to lay eggs. In ideal conditions, she will generally produce about one per day, but may occasionally release two in the same 24-hour period. In a natural environment, the bird will continue to lay until she has several in the nest, at which point she will sit on them until they hatch. In a farm, however, the eggs are removed, and she will continue laying. During the course of her lifetime, a hen may produce as much as thirty times her body weight in eggs; at one per day, for almost two and a half years, that is about 900.

The Reproductive Cycle

The reproductive cycle is set by day length and generally lasts about twenty-four hours during the summer months. As the days shorten, and winter approaches, a hen will lay fewer eggs, skipping some days. Some will stop laying altogether until the spring arrives. The reason behind this is that winter is a bad time to raise chicks as the cold weather decreases their chances of survival.

A hen does not need to be fertilized to lay an egg, and most birds in a laying facility have never even been in contact with a rooster. The egg-laying passage, or oviduct, opens into the cloaca, the passage through which droppings and urine are expelled; however, during laying a flap of skin stretches down to separate these areas so that the eggs are not contaminated by droppings. For this reason, the newly laid egg is clean, although it can pick up dirt later, for example, from the hen’s feet.

After laying, the hen will leave the nest, allowing the egg to cool. This prevents it from hatching, but the embryo remains viable for up to two weeks in these conditions. The bird will continue laying each day until she has several eggs in her nest, at which point she becomes “broody.” A broody hen will sit on her nest all day and night, her wings spread slightly to help keep the eggs warm. Since the embryos’ growth was paused while the nest was being laid, they will all develop at the same time.

A broody hen will leave the nest, briefly, once a day to defecate, eat, and drink, and anyone who gets too close to her eggs will be pecked at. After three weeks of brooding, her chicks will emerge. Any that don not hatch will be left behind as she brings the new chicks out into the world for the first time, and the nest will be abandoned.

Maximizing Production

In farms or egg-producing facilities, this natural process is broken up. Lighting can be adjusted to make the hen think that the day length has not changed, so that production continues at summer rates throughout the year. Eggs are removed after they are laid, leading the bird to think that there are still not enough in her nest, and causing her to continue laying. A hen that is resistant to laying in a nest can be encouraged to do so by placing a few fake eggs there.

After several months of laying, a hen may go through a molting cycle, during which old feathers are shed and new ones grown. Due to the energy required to molt, the hen’s body will not have the resources to produce eggs. After molting, however, production tends to reach a new peak. When birds in a modern facility have been laying for some time, production is reduced and the quality of the eggs declines, and because of this, many facilities will use various methods to induce molting, in order to improve production and quality after the molt. One controversial method is by withholding feed for 7-14 days; however, this is not allowed in some countries, and an alternative method is changing to lower density food.

Factors Affecting Laying

Hens will normally continue to lay until they reach two or three years of age, but there are a number of reasons, apart from lighting, molting and age, that can reduce or stop egg production. One of these is poor nutrition. If a hen is not receiving proper amounts of feed, or if there is an imbalance, for example too much or too little salt, she will be unable to produce eggs. The bird must receive adequate amounts of vitamins, and minerals such as sodium and calcium.

If feed is not stored properly, molds can grow on it. These can release toxins that affect the health of hens and may prevent laying. Birds raised in backyards may also eat objects that are not part of their feed, and may be harmful, such as the seeds of toxic plants. External parasites — such as fleas, lice and mites — and external parasites — such as roundworms and tapeworms — may affect laying. A drop in egg production can also be caused by various diseases, and by stress.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

In optimal conditions — proper nutrition, housing and care — most hens begin laying eggs between 18-22 weeks of age. Some, mostly larger breeds, may start producing closer to 26-28 weeks.

The length of time during which a hen lays eggs is referred to as “longevity of lay” in industry terms. On average, chickens have a longevity of lay of three years with the most consistent and reliable production lasting about two years. This can vary based on whether the chickens are from a commercial flock or home flock, as backyard-owned chickens tend to have greater longevity than their factory-raised counterparts. Several superstar breeds have been known to stretch their production span to a maximum of seven years with a peak egg-laying period of up to four years.

Hens can lay about an egg per day during their top-producing months. After the first year, the level of egg production tapers off. Chickens may lay 3-4 eggs per week, followed by one per week, and then down to one per month, until production stops altogether. Egg size and shell quality also decrease in subsequent years.

Why Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?

Besides advancing in age, there are several reasons why hens stop laying eggs. Many are temporary; although, depending on the cause, it can take days, weeks or even months for a hen to resume normal production. Here are ten factors that impact egg production:

1. Molting

After 8-10 months of egg-laying, chickens undergo a process called molting, when they lose their old feathers and grow new ones. This typically occurs in late summer or early fall. During this time, egg production temporarily slows or pauses. Once the new feathers come in, production resumes.

2. Broodiness

Once a hen has laid several eggs, she will stop producing so that she can sit on the eggs, protecting them and keeping them warm until they are ready to hatch.

3. Inadequate Nutrition

Chickens need sufficient nutrients, such as protein, calcium and trace minerals to maintain consistent egg production.

4. Lack of Cool, Clean Water

Just like they need quality feed, hens also require access to plenty of clean water. They prefer cool water to other temperatures.

5. Damp Housing

Dry housing with adequate airflow is the best environment for hens to stay healthy and productive. Moisture-stricken spaces can contribute to poor air quality and increase chickens’ susceptibility to disease.

6. Overcrowding

Chickens need ample space and easy access to food and water sources. Too many birds sharing the same space creates competition that can leave them without enough nutritional support and room to move.

7. Disease

Feathered friends are prone to diseases that can quickly spread to the rest of the flock, wiping out an entire production line.

8. Seasonal Fluctuations

Summer is peak season for producing eggs with up to 16 hours of daylight. As the number of daylight hours declines, so does the production rate. Many poultry owners use artificial light to keep up with production during the winter months.

9. Loud and Sudden Noises

Startling sounds, such as thunder or sirens, serve as stressors to chickens that can instantly stop production.

10. Predation

From foxes to hawks, chickens are on the menu of many hungry predators. Any sense of threat, similar to loud noises, can spook chickens out of egg-laying.

What Breeds Lay Eggs the Longest?

Breeds that produce brown eggs are typically among the best egg-laying chicken breeds. Here are a few breeds known for their impressive egg production skills:

  • Australorps
  • Barred Rocks
  • Buckeyes
  • Dominiques
  • Isa Browns
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Turkens

How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay a Day?

The entire reproductive process for egg production takes 24-26 hours. This means, in theory, that a hen could lay one egg per day during prime egg-producing years. In reality, though, it’s perfectly normal and expected for a hen to lay one egg, then skip a day before laying another. This is because a hen’s reproductive system is vulnerable to light exposure, so at some point, the hen will lay an egg too late in the day to start the formation of another egg.

Do Chickens Need a Rooster to Lay Eggs?

In the case of egg production, it does not take two to tango. Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. The full-plumaged fowl do come in handy for several purposes, such as bringing protection and order to the flock. However, they are typically noisy and aggressive, so unless a goal of egg-laying is to hatch baby chicks, chicken owners often opt not to keep roosters.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a All Things Nature writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
By anon349199 — On Sep 24, 2013

We have a small chicken named Speckles. She is four or five months old. When will she start laying?

By anon349196 — On Sep 24, 2013

Has anyone ever heard of chickens laying coloured eggs?

How about purple, for example? Is this a dietary consideration, breed dependent or in fact a total fallacy?

By anon336689 — On May 30, 2013

I have 15 hens total. Nine are four years old and six are two years old. Today they produced 22 eggs. That's 22 eggs in 24 hours from 15 hens. They have done this often although my usual daily egg count is 14. So yes, they can and do produce more than one egg a day if they are well cared for. I typically get eight eggs per day in the winter.

By anon333859 — On May 08, 2013

How long can I keep chicken eggs in the refrigerator until they spoil?

By anon332586 — On Apr 30, 2013

Is there an artificial fertilisation for chickens?

By anon280323 — On Jul 17, 2012

How many days is an egg good if it's non fertilized and the hen is sitting on them?

By anon278510 — On Jul 07, 2012

I have chickens at and one has started to act strange. It goes off to be on its own. Could it be it's going to start laying eggs?

By anon252139 — On Mar 04, 2012

I have a duck and she lays one egg a day. She has 11 eggs and I removed the eggs every day and I do not know if she is going to lie down to wait for the eggs.

By jeny — On Feb 17, 2012

I have eight chickens, seven months old. They have been averaging seven or eight eggs a day. Yesterday I found seven eggs. This morning I found four (one colder, assuming it was from previous day). This afternoon I went out to collect what I thought would be five eggs max. I found 10! Now I am confused or are they totally confused? Any ideas? Oh, and it's winter in Alaska.

By anon238550 — On Jan 04, 2012

It does depend on the breed, of course. Some lay fewer eggs per year. Look up Bearded Belgium and Silver Dutch.

By anon238335 — On Jan 03, 2012

I have three chickens about nine months old. Two of them are now sitting on their nest, but have no eggs under them. What is going on, and how long do they stay there?

My third one is laying about an egg a day and is the only one out in the chicken yard. Can I remove the two sitting hens to make sure they get enough food? I did it twice but they go right back into the nest. Is there something wrong with them? The three are always well fed and have fresh water, but I am afraid. The two nesting ones don't get any. Please help!

By anon210548 — On Aug 30, 2011

I have chickens as pets and they are adorable. (two of them, so sweet!) They lay blue and green eggs, which are very good quality. Sweet little babies. God bless all chickens!

By anon178561 — On May 21, 2011

Does a hen need to be wormed?

By anon174173 — On May 09, 2011

i have a chicken that is one year old. i went to the nest and there were two eggs, so i think yes, hens can lay more then one egg a day. Hope this note will help someone. --maya

By anon156984 — On Mar 01, 2011

thanks. after the first lay and hatch of chickens, would the same chicken lay and hatch again? how many times do chickens and turkeys lay and hatch in a lifetime?

By anon149996 — On Feb 06, 2011

Our chickens just recently began laying eggs. Some mornings we will find 2 eggs in the same box. Just wondering if they were laid by the same chicken. Today we found 3 eggs together and my husband checked this morning and there were no eggs.

By anon129520 — On Nov 23, 2010

can a chicken lay more than one egg in 24 hours?

By anon106579 — On Aug 26, 2010

Does a chicken go through pain when laying an egg?

By anon101188 — On Aug 02, 2010

I am so excited. my chickens are just starting to lay. I guess I am easily amused but this is the first time I have raised them from day old chicks to laying hens.

By anon95450 — On Jul 12, 2010

today my chicken laid its first egg.

By anon91563 — On Jun 22, 2010

Our chickens have laid double yolk eggs--especially early in their ovulation cycles, so clearly a chicken can lay two eggs in one day. I would be surprised to see this last for long, however.

By anon90235 — On Jun 15, 2010

how many cc eggs do they lay a day?

By anon84620 — On May 16, 2010

a hen can lay until she dies. some may stop at three years.

By anon84558 — On May 16, 2010

i have just received a hen but i am worried as she is not laying. i do not know how old she is but someone says she has to get used to her surroundings. is this true?

By anon74159 — On Mar 31, 2010

To anon41534: Although chickens do need to breed in order to produce fertile eggs, interestingly, turkeys do not. If female turkeys don't mate with a male, or if they mate with a male who has non-viable sperm, she can still produce a fertile egg through a process called parthenogenesis.

By anon68287 — On Mar 01, 2010

My uncle, Gus Stern had a chicken hatchery located in Vineland, NJ in the 1940 - 1960 range. During 1956/57,he had a chicken that laid 362 eggs (official Trapnest record of Hunterdon County Egg Laying Contest)in one year. One egg each day for almost an entire year. She was known as bird #16-3 but was given the name Meg O'Day by someone from Rutger's Univ. When Meg died at the age of 2 1/2, my uncle had her stuffed and mounted then placed her on a shelf located over the TV in the living room of his house for all to see. He was very proud of Meg.

Meg was a featured exibit at the Museum of American Jewish History which was located on Independence Mall East in downtown Philadelphia, PA. There was an article printed in the Philadelphia Bulletin Discover Magazine on February 25, 1979. Check it out. --Elliott

By anon54234 — On Nov 28, 2009

i have a chicken that i think is laying two eggs per day also. she lays one large and one small egg.

By anon46099 — On Sep 22, 2009

yes, an egg must be fertilized to hatch.

By anon41534 — On Aug 15, 2009

your article on chickens is very informative but has left us with a family argument, which is: does the hen need a rooster to fertilize the egg to enable the egg to hatch? Regards, Robert

By finetomato — On Aug 05, 2009

We are wondering the same thing about a chicken of ours (about the same age as Brett's) who goes off and lays her eggs in a different place than the nesting boxes, and it seems she has laid 2 or even 3 on one day. How is this possible?

By anon39824 — On Aug 04, 2009

my brother got two cross bred sussex hens. he gets on a regular basis 4 eggs one day and two the next day

By brett — On Dec 26, 2008

We have four chickens about 24 weeks. This morning we have only noticed one going to lay and upon checking after half an hour there were 2 eggs in the same spot, both warm and one much smaller than the other, can chickens actually lay 2 eggs ?

I had been down to the hutch previous to this to remove an egg that had been laid earlier.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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