Broiler chickens are bred and raised for meat, but do broiler chickens lay eggs, too?
Broiler hens are certainly capable of laying eggs, but it rarely happens as broilers are butchered and processed before they mature and pass egg-laying age.
If you're taking broilers into your backyard flock and not intending to raise them for meat, here's what you need to know about broiler eggs:
Do Broiler Chickens Lay Eggs?
First of all, it's important you know what a 'broiler' chicken is and why some chickens are raised as broilers.
The word 'broiler' doesn't refer to a specific breed of chicken, it's a name given to any chickens that are bred and raised specifically for meat.
Broiler chickens are typically slaughtered at around six to eight weeks old when they reach 'peak meat.'
This is before a hen would reach reproductive maturity and start laying eggs, which typically starts at around 24-26 weeks of age.
So, if you've never heard of a broiler laying an egg, this would be why - not because they are physically not capable of laying eggs.
Broilers can lay eggs, just like any breed of chicken, but they need to be mature enough to do so.
At What Age Do Broilers Start Laying Eggs?
As we've just mentioned, broiler chickens are butchered and processed for meat before they mature enough to lay eggs.
The age at which a chicken will start laying eggs varies depending on the breed, with smaller breeds typically reaching maturity sooner than larger breeds.
However, most broiler chicken breeds take around 24-26 weeks to reach egg-laying maturity.
This is much older than the age at which they are typically butchered and processed for meat, which is around six to eight weeks old.
The most honest answer I can give you is that you would need to wait and find out as it depends on the breed of the broiler.
How Many Eggs Can a Broiler Lay in a Day?
Once a broiler hen reaches egg-laying maturity, you can't expect them to lay more than one egg per day - and they won't come close to this.
This is because hens are only physically capable of laying one egg per day. Plus, the number of eggs a chicken lays depends on the breed.
So, they will almost certainly be on the lower end of the egg production scale, maybe laying 2-4 eggs per week or around 150-200 per year.
When you look at a breed of chicken bred for laying eggs, such as the Leghorn which is capable of laying ~300 eggs per year, or Rhode Island Reds that lay ~250 eggs per year, it's no comparison.
What Color Eggs Do Broilers Lay?
The color of an eggshell is determined by the breed of chicken that lays it.
So, if you have a broiler hen that reaches egg-laying maturity, the color of their eggs will depend on the breed.
The most common colors you'll find are white and brown, but you could also get blue, green, or pink eggs.
Contrary to what some people believe, the color of the egg is just for show and doesn't affect the taste or nutritional value.
However, if you're after chicken breeds that lay specific color eggs, you should check out Ameraucanas for blue layers, Marans for chocolate-colored eggs, and Easter Eggers for olive eggs and some other interesting colors!
Can Broilers Lay Fertile Eggs?
Theoretically, any chicken breed can lay a fertile egg - including broilers.
However, as we've mentioned, most broilers are butchered long before they reach egg-laying maturity, so it's highly unlikely you'll ever find a fertile broiler egg.
Even if you did manage to find a mature enough broiler hen to lay a fertile egg, the chances of that egg being fertilized are pretty slim.
This is because most broiler chickens are kept in factory-like conditions and don't have any contact with roosters.
And without a rooster around, there's no way for the eggs to become fertilized and turn into chicks.
That's right - for an egg to be fertilized the hen has to have mated with a rooster!
Hens lay eggs with or without roosters, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a fertile or unfertilized egg without starting the incubation process.
However, there is such a thing as 'broiler breeder farms'. These are farms that breed broilers specifically to provide more broilers to chicken farms.
After all, broilers need to come from somewhere.
But talking from a more natural or organic setting, you'd need to meet the specific conditions mentioned above to find yourself hatching baby broiler chicks!
Do broiler chickens lay eggs? Yes, they can, but most are butchered before they reach egg-laying maturity.
So, if you're rehoming a broiler and raising it, you can expect it to lay eggs in the same fashion as the breed or cross-breed of chicken it is.