When you are raising chickens, one of the things you eagerly await is the bounty you get to collect from the nesting boxes. If your chickens are showing signs that they are going to start producing eggs, then you are probably wondering, “What time of day do chickens lay eggs?” Well, there is not a specific time. However, most chickens will usually lay an egg 6 hours after the sunrises and run on a 26-hour ovulation clock.
When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
Knowing the age your chickens start to lay eggs and how that affects them is one of the factors in answering the time of day. Hens will produce eggs for about 4 years. The number of eggs produced, as well as the quality of those eggs, depends on a number of things, including the breed of the chicken, nutrition, and light exposure.
That said, hens will typically begin laying eggs when they are 18-22 weeks old. During this time, they will need around 14-16 hours of light, an available nesting box, and a healthy diet.
Some signs a hen is getting ready to lay an egg include:
- Enlarged comb that is visibly redder in color
- Increase in vocalizations
- Submissive squatting
- Becoming protective of her selected nesting box
What Time of Day Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
Most often, chickens lay eggs during the first 6 hours of daylight. In other words, if the sun is up by 5AM, you will be able to collect the eggs around 11AM or 12PM.
Chickens run on something of a light-cycle, meaning that they are very dependent on sunlight. 14-16 hours of sunlight are critical, especially for egg-laying hens. You see, the hormones responsible for egg-laying are regulated by sun exposure.
This is why some breeds will stop laying eggs in the winter. When there is only about 9 hours of daylight to enjoy, your chicken’s reproductive hormones decide to go into hibernation. Furthermore, wintertime also means your chickens are burning more calories just to stay warm. Usually, their bodies are too preoccupied with survival to even think about producing eggs.
If you want to tempt your hens to lay eggs in the winter, you may want to supply them with a lit coop that is heated. The artificial daylight and warmth will coax their hormones out of hibernation.
Another thing you do not want to overlook is nutrition. Chicken eggs are formed using protein and calcium. If a hen cannot get an ample amount of nutrition, she will be unable to produce eggs. She simply lacks the resources. It is important to feed your chickens high quality food and to supplement their diet with treats. You should also consider letting your flock roam around the yard, gathering up insects and seeds.
Chickens that are currently in the process of molting will not lay eggs. Hens typically molt once a year in autumn or during times of stress. Molting is a necessary process that allows chickens to regrow feathers, but since it takes so much energy to regrow feathers, nothing else can be grown inside your hens. Once molting is over, your ladies will return to their regularly scheduled egg-laying.
Do Chickens Lay Eggs at the Same Time Every Day?
No, chickens do lay eggs at the same time throughout the week. If that was to be possible, your hens would need a 24-hour cycle. Instead, the egg-laying cycle runs about 26-28 hours. As such, your hen may lay an egg at 6AM on Monday, 8AM on Tuesday, and then at 10AM on Wednesday.
One thing you can count on is the eggs arriving in the morning hours. Few chickens lay their eggs after 3PM, but you may have an unusual hen who doesn’t want to conform.
How Many Eggs Can a Chicken Lay Per Day?
Many new chicken owners are often confused about how many eggs they should expect. Cartoons may have led you to believe that a hen can produce several eggs in a single day, but that is not correct. Again, chickens produce an egg every 26-28 hours. In other words, you can expect one egg per day. No more than that.
If your chicken lays two eggs, it means that one of the eggs had gotten bound up or delayed for some reason. It is recommended that you keep an eye on the chicken that has laid more than a single egg at one time, because she may have uterine issues.
Depending on the cycle of your chicken and when they lay their eggs, you can expect to get a couple of eggs per week. Some breeds will lay only 2 eggs a week while others may lay 5-7 eggs. If you are looking to get eggs every single day, consider adding hens from breeds known for prolific egg production.
Watch a video that explains this topic in more detail:
The Best Time of Day to Collect Eggs
The time you choose to collect the eggs ultimately depends on you and your personal schedule. That said, the earlier you can get out there, the better. You will also want to commit to gathering the eggs around the same time every single day to give your chickens a sense of routine.
Most people will collect the eggs in the nesting boxes around 12-4 PM.
Keep in mind that leaving eggs laying around could cause some drama. You may find that leaving eggs to sit throughout the day leads to them getting damaged or soiled. A broody hen will also want to protect your eggs, and that mother instinct comes out the longer she sits on the egg.
You could also check the nesting boxes and yard for eggs twice a day — once in the morning and before you put the chickens to bed at night. That will ensure you aren’t missing anything. Plus, scooping up stray eggs before nighttime reduces the chance of predators snooping around.
Should I Collect Eggs Daily?
Yes, you definitely want to get out there every single day and gather up those little treasures. Letting the eggs stay in those boxes opens up a number of possibilities. The eggs may attract predators or get damaged by other chickens. Rats, mice, and snakes are always ready to snatch eggs and make a lot of fuss while doing it.
However, there are some times when leaving an egg in the box is beneficial. Some younger chickens who have yet to lay may be coaxed into dropping an egg if they see others laying around. The example egg can show them where to lay theirs.
Here is one factor that you may not have considered: the temperature. This is yet another reason why you shouldn’t leave your eggs outside overnight. The fluctuating temperatures between day and night will deteriorate the quality of the eggs. Why does this happen? First off, it can cause the inside of the egg to age. Secondly, condensation. When condensation forms on the shell of an egg, it ruins the “bloom,” that coating on the egg that keeps bacteria and air from getting inside the egg.
Forgetting an egg and finding it covered in condensation does not necessarily mean it has gone bad. Check the egg with the float test. Fill a glass with water and see if the egg floats.
Gathering Eggs in the Winter
If you are lucky enough to have hens who produce eggs in the winter, then gathering eggs throughout the day is even more important. If the coop drops below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), there is a chance that the shells will grow brittle and crack. A shell that has been cracked may become contaminated by bacteria and chicken poo.
Consider putting a heater in the coop if temperatures where you live drop below freezing regularly. If not, just make sure to gather those eggs before you close the coop doors at night.
Gathering Eggs in the Summer
Warm temperatures are ideal for chickens. All that sun and heat is bound to get your hens laying loads of eggs. That said, heat also causes bacteria to proliferate. In coops without adequate ventilation, it is not uncommon for the internal temperature to reach 100 degrees F (37.7 degrees C) quickly.
In the summer, you may want to increase the number of times you check for eggs. The longer those eggs sit in the heat, the greater the chance of them spoiling. Additionally, in the summer, fertilized eggs have a greater chance of developing, even without a hen sitting on them.
Final Thoughts on When Chickens Lay Eggs
So what time of day do chickens lay eggs? Usually before noon. Chickens need about 6 hours of daylight before laying an egg in the morning. However, this may change if it is wintertime or if the chicken has a slightly irregular cycle. As such, you should check the coop multiple times throughout the day for any eggs so you don’t miss them!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.