What To Eggspect With Backyard Chicken Egg Laying
Backyard chickens are a great addition to households looking to live more sustainably. Urban fowl provides delicious eggs that also contain less cholesterol and more nutrients than store-bought eggs!
If you're dipping your toes into the wonderful world of chicken-rearing, knowing what to expect can keep your chickens healthy, encouraging them to lay more eggs.
How Many Eggs Should I Eggspect?
Most chickens start laying eggs when they're around six months old. During the first few weeks, their eggs may appear particularly small, but egg size will gradually increase until reaching standard size (weighing between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces) after about six weeks.
Young, healthy chickens lay between five and seven eggs a week, producing the bulk of their eggs within the first couple of years of their life. Many could continue producing eggs for their entire lifetime, which can last between five and 10 years. As chickens age, they produce a smaller number of eggs per week, but the eggs are larger in size.
Collecting Backyard Chicken Eggs
Chicken eggs should be collected at least twice a day to prevent them from getting spoiled or damaged. Some chickens could even develop the bad habit of cracking and eating their own eggs, so it's a good idea to collect them as quickly as possible after laying.
Most chickens lay their eggs in the early morning hours, but some can produce eggs in the late morning or early afternoon. As you begin collecting eggs, you'll establish your chickens' egg-laying routines.
To collect the eggs, you need your chickens to exit the nest. The easiest way to entice your chickens to step away from fresh eggs is to feed them. When the chickens get up to eat, you can gently collect their eggs.
Cleaning and Storing Fresh Eggs
Fresh-from-the-chicken eggs have a thin film called a bloom, which prevents microbes from entering the porous shell. Some people wash their eggs after collection, removing the bloom. If you do this, refrigerate your eggs immediately after washing. Fresh, washed eggs will keep in the refrigerator for around six months.
To wash eggs:
- DO wash them in hot water
- DON'T soak them in water
- DON'T wash them using household cleaners. Gently wipe them with a wet towel, a 50/50 water/vinegar solution, or an egg-specific cleaner.
If you prefer to keep your eggs at room temperature, wait to wash them with water until right before eating them. Fresh eggs can be kept at room temperature for about five weeks.
Help! My Chickens Stopped Laying Eggs!
Some people worry when egg production stops or slows, but a decrease in seasonal egg production is normal. Many chickens will produce fewer eggs when they are molting—losing and replacing their feathers—during the fall. They may also produce fewer eggs as they age.
The most common reason chickens produce fewer eggs is due to inadequate sunlight. As the sunlight hours decrease during the fall and winter months, chickens produce fewer eggs. Chickens need between 12–14 hours of light a day for successful egg production. Some backyard chicken owners put light bulbs in chicken coops to ensure adequate light during the winter months. But some experts think this practice could reduce a chicken's lifespan and decrease egg production over their lifetime.
Generally, a slowdown in egg production is not a cause for concern. If the chicken coop is kept clean, chickens are able to roam and feed freely, and you don't notice visible signs of disease or illness (such as scabs or feather loss), then reduction in egg laying is likely age-related or seasonal.
Top Tips To Get Lots of Delicious Backyard Eggs
To help your chickens produce a high volume of delicious-tasting eggs, keep these tips in mind:
- Feed chickens a diverse diet. This should include high-quality chicken feed, protein-packed plants (like alfalfa or barley) herbs, vegetable scraps, garden weeds, mealworms, and eggshells.
- Allow chickens to roam freely. If you don't have the space for roaming, design a chicken run. Free-range chickens typically produce more eggs.
- Add high-calcium sources to their diet. Eggshells are 95% calcium. A chicken's calcium stores can quickly become depleted when producing eggs.
- Keep chickens safe from predators. Stressed chickens produce fewer eggs.
- Clean out the chicken coop weekly. A clean coop will be less likely to house parasites or mold, which can make chickens sick.
For Expert Advice in Egg Laying, Visit Pets on Broadway
At Pets on Broadway, our goal is to help you have a happy, healthy relationship with your furry, feathered, scaly, or hairy friends—that's why our expert, animal-loving staff is dedicated to customer education and support. For additional information on the proper care and feeding of your fowl, visit PetsonBroadway.com.