How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
If you are about to start, or are just considering starting your own home chicken-raising operation, one of the questions that may pop into your mind is “how long do chickens lay eggs?”.
I mean, do these wacky little birds lay eggs throughout their entire lives?
How long do they live, anyway?
And do any of these things have anything to do with the breed I end up choosing?
A complex simplicity
Although it would be practical to have a straightforward answer for such a seemingly-easy question, truth is, there is no exact reply to how long do hens lay eggs.
It is, in fact, something that will largely depend on the breed, on the particular hen, and even on external factors such as the care involved or climatic conditions.
In most cases, however, heritage breeds are known to keep a consistent egg production over longer periods of time.
Industrial strains, on the other hand, have gone through many years of genetic selection that has resulted in birds that lay outstanding amounts of eggs for the first 18 months to 2 years, just to dramatically drop right afterwards.
Once these industrial strains are no longer productive when it comes to eggs, they are slaughtered for their meat.
Ok… but, what exactly does “productive” mean? And… how long does it take a chicken to lay an egg?
Usually, a hen is seen as productive if it lays from 200 to 300 eggs per year, and most chickens will be more prolific before they reach the age of three.
After reaching this age, they will continue laying eggs, but at a less consistent rate.
Depending on the breed, you can expect a chicken to begin laying eggs anywhere between its 5 to 7 months of age.
Want to know more than just egg laying? You may be interested in this article on, How do chickens mate? Or, If your hens have stopped laying, keep reading!
What should I do with my chicken after it stops laying eggs consistently?
Chickens can live up to 8 or 10 years, but there have been cases in which 20 year old backyard chickens are found roaming around like they are still 5!
This means that, after their top-performance years, hens still have from 5 to 8 (or maybe even 17) more years to go.
While some bird keepers decide to continue taking care of their good old friends, others might go ahead and use them for meat instead.
Those who choose keeping the oldies get the added benefits of receiving their pest control and fertilizer production services… in addition to occasionally receiving random surprises in the form of a large egg!
In this article, you can check out how older hens can actually become a valuable asset to your flock.
My hens are young… why don’t they lay any eggs?
No need to panic!
Things you might want to double check if your young hens are not laying any eggs are their nutrition, their stress levels, the amount of daylight they are receiving and their nesting boxes.
Learn more about it by watching this video!
The weather is, perhaps, another factor you may want to take into account.
If it is winter, for example, and your chickens have renounced to their egg-making duties… it is completely normal! That is is because the discharge of yolk from the ovaries is intrinsically connected to the amount of light the chicken is exposed to.
For some breeds, the drops in temperature can also cause them to use their energy for keeping their bodies warm, rather than for making eggs.
You can find a more scientifically-elaborated explanation on the winter situation in My Pet Chicken’s post.
Things people usually do when they want to keep their egg production stable during the winter months are to increase the amount of feed, increase the amount of lighting and to use a no-freeze device in order to prevent their drinking water from freezing, as well as to add a heat lamp inside their coop.
Nonetheless, there are some who do not agree with this, holding that pushing hens to lay eggs over this time of the year goes against the birds’ natural biorhythms.
The Bottom line - How Long Can You Expect Eggs For?
In the end, the longevity of your chickens’ constant egg laying capabilities will both be determined by luck and dedication.
Because care is, without a doubt, the only element we bird keepers really have control of, it might be a good idea to focus and put our best into it!
Feel free to speak out your doubts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this article with any of your chicken-curious friends.