Eggs are great sources of protein, and when raised organically can be lower in cholesterol than regular eggs available. Many people are choosing to raise flocks for this reason, but few stop to ask, “How many eggs does a chicken lay?” The answer is not that clear-cut but the best layers will lay one egg a day. Hens of all breeds are just not equipped to lay more than one egg a day. However, the laying hen will lay an egg every one to two days. This variance has to do with the cleanliness of the nesting area as well as the overall stress level of the hen. The laying process is constant and miraculous, and one that is definitely worth knowing about!
How an egg is formed is miraculous, especially considering that chickens are able to lay so many with only one ovary and one oviduct (most animals have two). With this in mind, it’s important to note that the entire egg, with the exception of the yolk material, is formed in the oviduct.
Ovulation takes place and the egg is deposited from the ovary into the chicken’s abdominal cavity. It is here that the yolk is created and the egg enters what is known as the magnum stage. During the magnum stage the shape of the egg is determined. After this process, the egg moves into the uterus where the shell is added. Keep in mind, the shell is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. While all this is happening, another egg is waiting in the wings, waiting to be dropped! In other words, hens are constantly producing eggs.
Right before the egg is dropped, the pigment is determined, after which the egg passes through the oviduct small end first, then it is laid large end first. If you do not own a rooster, then none of your eggs will be fertilized. Remember, a hen will behave the same towards her eggs regardless of whether or not the egg has been fertilized. This is known as brooding.
Brooding hens can become grumpy and temperamental when you try to remove eggs from her nest. If a hen is allowed to sit on her eggs too long, they can deteriorate more quickly. To prevent this, remove the eggs from the nest each day, so the hen does not have the opportunity to sit on them for an extended amount of time.
It’s normal for an egg to have a drop of blood on it, so don’t be alarmed if you see this. However, if you see more than a drop of blood on the eggs from the same hen, take them to the vet to be examined. Also, when a hen first starts laying eggs, they may be smaller in size, with thin or brittle shells. This is common and not cause for concern. Once the hen begins to lay more eggs, the shells will firm up.
How can you tell if your chickens will be good egg layers? Inspect their pubic bones for a two-finger space between them. If there is a space, you likely have a good layer. On the other hand, if there is little or no space between the pubic bones, your chicken may have a difficult time producing a lot of eggs.
Now that you have done your research, the next time you are enjoying an omelet and someone asks, “How many eggs does a chicken lay?” You will be able to answer!
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