How Many Eggs Will A Chicken Lay In Its Lifetime?
One of our followers wanted to know, how many eggs can you expect a chicken to produce over the course of its life?As with most questions, take everything you're about to read with the knowledge that your experience may, and will likely, vary. With that in mind, the information we'll be providing will still give you a pretty decent idea of what you can expect from chickens and their egg output.
Results May Vary
There are a number of factors that need to be considered when thinking about a hen's laying career. The first factor is the particular breed of the bird. While many breeds will put up total numbers that are within the same ballpark of one another, there are particular breeds that are regarded as the "top dogs" when it comes to their egg production. Common breeds like the Rhode Island Red or Jersey Giants will typically produce 200-250 eggs per year, while a breed like ISA Brown will yield up to 350 a year.
The second factor that can influence a chicken's egg output is their feed. Like all living creatures, adequate nutrient intake is critical for the health of chickens. When a chicken is not in its best shape, then the amount of resource it has to devote to egg production will be diminished. Most commercial layer feeds offer a complete array of the necessary nutrients for laying hens. Believe it or not, adding too many additions to their diet (i.e. vegetable scraps and other "snacks") may dilute their nutrient stores and result in decreased egg output. Also, switching feed formulas too often may disturb their digestion and reduce the amount of eggs you'll collect. Our best advice is to choose a formula you trust, stick with it, and allow chickens to forage for their own supplementary intake (if you're free-ranging them).
The third factor is the environment in which they're raised. If you (and your chickens) live in a location where winter temperatures get low, you can expect decreased output during those colder months. This is due to the fact that light stimulation is a primary stimulus for egg production. With the winter season comes shorter days and reduced daylight, thus fewer eggs. Also, during the winter, most of a chicken's resources will be devoted to keeping them warm (surviving) and not plopping out eggs, which take a significant amount of energy to produce.
Okay, But How Many Eggs?!
Getting to the actual numbers now...
For the sake of this example, we'll use one of our preferred breeds on the farm - the Barred Rock.
The average annual output of a Barred Rock is around 270 eggs (5 eggs/week).
Its important to note that laying hens are most productive during their first three years, and every year their production declines a small amount - roughly 10% each year. Considering the average lifespan of a layer is around 6 years, the numbers would look something like this.
Year 1: 270
Year 2: 243
Year 3: 216
Year 4: 189
Year 5: 162
Year 6: 135
This will come out to a total of 1,215 eggs over a 6 year period!
Note that chickens can live older than 6 years (some may live to be as old as 10) but it's more common that they don't. Some folks will sell or "stew" their hens after their peak years. Again, your results may vary!
On our farm, given the length of winters we experience in Illinois and the nature of our flock sizes, we rarely see a hens production last longer than 2 years. So in our case, we consider our chicken's productive lifespan to be 2 years, and thus we expect around 400 eggs out of them in total.
In The End
In the final analysis of it all, regardless of how long your chickens live they'll provide you with more eggs than you would have had otherwise. An added benefit to owning chickens is, of course, the experience of raising them! The daily check-ins and maintenance of your flock may in fact end up being your biggest reward, the eggs being a very positive side effect of having a friendly group of birds to enjoy.
For us at Fulcrum Farm, it actually becomes tough to even notice the decrease in a single chickens production - we keep so many chickens that our overall output stays somewhat consistent. Because our goal is to maximize the number of meals we can donate, it makes sense for us to have so many birds and to have an expectation of how many eggs we'll be able to gather. If you're just looking for a smaller fleet of feathered egg layers to feed yourself and a few others, then it may suffice to know that the amount of eggs you can expect is somewhere around "enough".
You too can play a part in fulfilling Fulcrum Farm's goals of bringing as many meals as possible to our nation's veterans! Click the button above to contribute to our monthly meal donations and help feed veterans in need!