As I’m planning my homestead, I’m doing some chicken math to find out how many hens I need. The only problem was, I wasn’t exactly sure how many eggs hens can lay per day in the first place. Since this is the first piece of the puzzle, I did some more research to find out. Here’s what I found.
Chickens can lay two eggs a day, but this only happens rarely as an egg needs about 25 hours to fully form. A hen may produce two yolks in one egg, but only lay two separate eggs in a day on occasion. This usually indicates the chicken has been overfed. Most hens lay either one egg a day or one every other day.
So chickens usually lay one egg a day, but what exactly happens when a hen lays more than one egg in a single day, and are there certain breeds of chicken that are more likely to do so?
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How Many Eggs Do Hens Normally Lay in a Day?
Hens typically lay one egg per day, but some lay one egg every other day. Both are normal occurrences. While chickens can sometimes lay more than one egg a day, it’s the result of either overfeeding or young hens having irregular production cycles. If there is a second egg, it likely won’t be fully formed.
During their prime egg-laying days, hens will produce a constant abundance of eggs, but this number eventually drops as a hen grows older, which means you can expect an old hen to lay one egg every few days, or at least to not provide you with as much as one egg a day.
Eggs take around 25 hours to completely form. Egg production within a chicken starts from the inside out, meaning the egg yolk forms before the egg white and the eggshell.
Initial egg formation is typically a straightforward process, but you should also know that it’s also dependent on the hen’s light exposure.
Hens need plenty of daylight exposure to signal their bodies to start laying eggs. This generally equates to 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of darkness, and it explains why you may notice that your hens are more productive during the summer months than winter months.
If a chicken doesn’t receive ample light in a day, the chicken may skip laying an egg that day.
Once the egg is ready, which means an egg yolk, white, and shape are in place, the formation of the eggshell begins. Creating the eggshell takes a long time, usually about 20 hours, and uses up to 4 grams of calcium. This process often starts at night while the chicken rests.
Why Do Some Hens Lay Two Eggs in a Day?
A hen that lays two eggs a day is often overfed, which can cause an excess of follicles. This increases the likelihood of a hen laying a second egg. This other egg often has a soft shell or some discoloration. Similarly, it can also occur when a hen is young since its egg production cycle takes time to regulate.
Two eggs that are laid in one day occur when a hen’s body releases another egg that has yet to form fully. This egg is typically soft and misshapen, and often unusable.
Some hens may also produce double-yolked eggs (we just had one of these recently!). This usually also happens with young hens, but older hens may produce double-yolked eggs if it runs in their genes.
Double-yolked eggs typically occur when a hen, often in its youth, releases one yolk quickly, followed by another from its ovary. The would-be eggshell then encases both yolks, and it typically results in a larger than average egg.
If you’re trying to hatch chicks out of these eggs, you might be disappointed to learn that double-yolked eggs don’t typically hatch. These eggs are essentially two chicks inside one egg, and the egg doesn’t possess enough nutrients to support both of them.
However, if you’re raising hens to eat or sell their eggs, you’ll find that double-yolked eggs are usually sought-out.
Will the Hens Lay the Two Eggs at the Same Time?
Chickens can lay the two eggs at the same time or one immediately after another. This occurs due to an error in their body, which allows a soft-shelled egg to pass through the hen and come out as soon as the chicken lays the first egg.
Eggs with soft shells are vulnerable to environmental threats like bacteria, so getting two eggs at once is not really a good thing.
Do Hens Ever Lay Three Eggs in One Day?
Chickens normally can’t lay three eggs in one day. There are special cases where a very young and perhaps overfed hen might lay 3 eggs in one day, but this is highly uncommon.
As mentioned above, a chicken needs about 25 hours to produce a whole egg, especially since the eggshell creation itself takes 20 hours.
What Chicken Breeds Lay Two Eggs a Day?
The following breeds of chicken have been observed laying two eggs consistently within a single day:
- Rhode Island Red
- Bantam Mille Fleur
- White Leghorn
What Are the Best Chicken Breeds for Laying Eggs?
White Leghorns often produce more than 260 eggs a year. They’re also lightweight and don’t require much maintenance. Meanwhile, Golden Comets lay about 280 eggs a year, Rhode Island Reds produce 250 eggs, and Plymouth Rocks and Marans lay 200 eggs yearly.
If you ask anybody who owns a farm about the best chicken breeds for laying eggs, they’ll immediately answer White Leghorn and Rhode Island Red. However, these aren’t the only chickens capable of laying plenty of eggs every year.
Besides these two breeds, other good breeds for laying eggs include Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire, Golden Comet, and Maran. White Leghorns lay pristine white eggs, while all the others lay eggs in different shades of brown.
If you’re interested in learning more about the chicken breeds that lay different colored eggs, check out my post that reviews all of the different colored eggs hens can lay.
Do Happy Chickens Lay More Eggs?
If hens typically lay one egg a day or one egg every 2-3 days, are you doing something wrong if your chickens aren’t producing that many? Also, could a lack of eggs be a sign that your chicken isn’t happy—do happy chickens lay more eggs?
Happy chickens lay more eggs (usually not more than one a day) because they’re in an environment they consider as a sanctuary or a safe space. If chickens don’t need to worry about being eaten by predators or deal with other stressors around their home, they can focus on their reproductive goal—to lay eggs.
So, a happy chicken is a chicken that’s satisfied with its lifestyle. This means happy hens don’t get bored or agitated in their residence.
For example, they’ll have plenty of things to keep them occupied, like hay they could scratch or dust to bathe in to keep them active and entertained. They’ll also feel safe enough to simply rest and let their bodies start egg production.
Does Giving Treats to Chickens Help Make Them Happy?
You can supply your chickens with the occasional treat to boost their happiness, such as mealworms, Japanese beetles, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, eggshells, a variety of greens, and scratch grains delight hens. This could encourage them to lay more eggs.
If you don’t know where to find these treats, try visiting Amazon. Here are some direct links if you’d like to take a look:
Of course, you can easily find eggshells and greens at your local stores or use leftover food scraps from your kitchen.