What time of day do chickens lay eggs? There isn’t a set time of day chickens lay eggs. It depends on a few factors, such as light exposure, and will almost always be within the first 6 hours after sunrise.
Adult hens will lay between 5-7 eggs a week. This is because it takes around 26 hours from the point of ovulation to when they actually lay the egg. So, doing the basic math on that, you can see it takes slightly longer than a 24-hour period per egg.
When Will My Chickens Start Laying Eggs
If you’re eagerly waiting for that first egg, it’s an exciting time for sure.
Generally speaking, a chicken will lay their first egg at around 24-weeks (6 months) old. This depends mostly on what breed they are though. Leghorns and Golden Comets, so name just two breeds, can start laying as early as 16-weeks.
Hens will start to display some signs when they are getting close to laying that first egg. Look out for:
- Her comb getting bigger and redder in color
- She might be getting more vocal as she’s aware some changes are happening
- You might observe her squatting in her nesting box - almost like a rehearsal
- She might start acting protective over her box or another area within the coop
Basically, you will almost certainly notice she’s changing in behavior if you observe her closely.
When Do Chickens Lay Eggs: Day or Night?
Chickens lay eggs in the day. That’s not to say they will never lay an egg overnight, I’ve heard of it happening.
It’s just very unlikely, and I can explain why.
A very simplified version of how a chicken produces an egg is as follows:
The cue inside a chicken to start creating an egg is triggered by light from the sun (or artificial light). This activates their pineal gland, and they release a yolk from their ovary.
This travels into the uterus and fills up with egg white, which is a protein-rich substance the chick feeds off.
Next, the eggshell starts to form around the wall of their uterus which will encompass the yolk and white.
When the egg is fully formed, the chicken pushes it out of its vent, also called the cloaca.
This whole process takes around 26 hours from start to finish. An hour or so after laying an egg, the whole process starts again.
For almost all chickens, the process of creating an egg only starts when it’s light. This means, whenever you fast forward 26 or so hours, it’s going to be light again most of the time.
This also explains why you often get the odd egg in the afternoon. It’s because they’ve been laying a couple of hours later each day until it’s pushed back to the afternoon.
A chicken’s internal body clock knows when it’s late in the afternoon assisted by the sunlight. They will not start producing an egg in the afternoon. Instead, they will wait until the break of the next morning to do so.
Video of a Chicken Laying an Egg up Close
If you’ve never seen a chicken lay an egg, you’ve been missing out on one of life’s great wonders!
Here’s a video showing you a close up of a chicken laying an egg. It’s amazing to see, really. A few big pushes and the egg comes out with some force.
Something I didn’t know until I watched this video is that the egg is so warm it literally dries off in seconds in front of your eyes. Fascinating stuff.
How Many Eggs to Chickens Lay a Day?
This is one of the first things new backyard chicken owners ask. I explained above that the cycle from an egg starting to form to dropping out is around 26 hours.
That means it’s only possible for a chicken to produce one egg per day.
However, I’ve spoken with owners that say they have seen one of their chickens lay two eggs in a day before.
Some of them are experienced owners, so I believe them. There’s a difference between producing an egg and laying one, however.
If a chicken physically lays more than one egg in a 24-hour period, this means that one was held up. Most likely in the exit chute, as any deeper into the uterus could cause problems.
So, in theory, it’s possible for a chicken to lay more than one egg a day, and it does happen. But it’s not possible for a chicken to make more than one egg in a day.
Related content - Why do chickens eat their own eggs?
What Time Will You Get Eggs Each Day?
I’ve explained why chickens start to produce eggs and how long they take, so you now know why you don’t find eggs in their nesting boxes like clockwork each day.
You can roughly work out when you need to go and check for eggs if you’re monitoring when they’re laying. Although, the more hens you have the harder it is. They’ll all likely be laying at slightly different times anyway, so you shouldn’t go empty-handed often.
Basically, if a hen lays an egg at 7 am on Monday, you can expect another egg between 8 am-9 am Tuesday. Then 10 am-11 am Wednesday, and so on until it’s approaching afternoon and they reset the following morning.
It’s controlled by light and the length of natural light they are exposed to each day. Hens need 12 hours or more of light a day to have a healthy laying schedule. This is why you get fewer eggs in the winter as there is less sunlight.
There you have it, the science behind what time hens lay eggs each day.
Now you know why they don’t lay eggs at night. How you can work out the time you can expect eggs each day, why they skip a day sometimes, and more.
Like most things animals do, especially those related to reproduction and survival, it’s something that has developed through evolution and seems almost perfect when we analyze it.
If you’ve never seen a chicken lay an egg, it’s a really wonderful and impressive process. Not just visually, but understanding what’s going on inside a chicken to make it happen.
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