The egg laying process begins with creating the yolk, egg white, and shell, and ends with the hen using her uterus to push out the egg. The entire process takes anywhere between 24 and 28 hours.
Let’s take a deeper look at how this process works and all there is to know about chicken egg laying.
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How Does a Chicken Make an Egg?
Egg-making begins by first forming the inside of the egg and then the outside.
- The egg, which is also called an ovum, will mature into the egg yolk and is contained within a follicle. This maturation will happen when the hen is at least 18 weeks old.
- When the egg is fully mature and the hen ovulates, the follicle releases the egg. This release takes about 30 minutes.
- Next, the egg moves to the entrance of the oviduct, or reproductive tract, where it may be fertilized.
- Whether or not the egg is fertilized, the egg then travels through the oviduct, where the egg white forms. This takes about 3 hours.
- After the egg white has been formed, the egg will pass through into the uterus, where the shell forms. This is the longest, most strenuous part for your hen. The process of forming the shell typically takes between 20 and 21 hours.
- Finally, the hen will lay the egg through a type of vent called the cloaca. The uterus helps to push the egg out smoothly.
While this process sounds lengthy and intense, it is very natural for hens and it can be even compared to the fertilization and birth process of humans.
Here’s a great video showing how the egg is made within the chicken:
Is it Painful for a Chicken to Lay an Egg?
Aside from some small discomfort, unless they are very young or experiencing health problems, it’s not extremely painful for them.
It’s more natural, just like childbirth is for women (though not as painful).
Why Do Hens Make Noise after Laying Eggs?
As the chicken experiences that small bit of discomfort as they lay the egg, they may squawk or squeal loudly, especially if they’re young.
This is normal.
The chicken may also continue squawking for the next 10 minutes or so after they have laid an egg. Most likely, chickens do that so they can draw any potential predators away from their nests.
This habit is so ingrained that even chickens in captivity away from predators will continue to make that noise.
How Often Does a Chicken Lay an Egg?
On average, a hen will lay an egg every 24 to 28 hours, or about 250 eggs each year.
However, the frequency of producing eggs also depends on a number of factors such as breed, age, and the amount of light the hen is exposed to.
How often your chicken lays eggs will mostly depend on its breed. Some breeds will lay eggs more often than others.
Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, and Barnevelders are some of the best and most consistent layers.
The frequency will also depend on your chickens’ ages. Chickens won’t start laying eggs until they are at least 18 or 20 weeks old.
Additionally, as a hen reaches the end of her lifespan, her laying may decrease.
Exposure to Light
Finally, a hen’s laying frequency will also depend on how much light they get. The hormones needed to produce eggs respond to light.
On average, hens need at least 14 hours of light per day to produce an egg.
During the winter, when it is light fewer hours, chickens will decrease their egg production, eventually stopping altogether.
You can remedy this by making sure they have enough artificial light as they would during the warmer months.
Read our related article, How Many Chickens Should I Get for Eggs? If you’re looking to raise chickens for eggs, you’ll want to make sure you have enough to sustain your family. Here’s how to calculate the number of chickens you need!
How Does a Chicken Lay an Egg Everyday?
How does a chicken produce an egg?
Given that this is a complex process, it is quite the feat to consistently lay an egg every day!
However, this is what a layer’s body was designed for.
The 24 Hour Process
The egg-laying process, beginning with the release of a mature egg during ovulation, begins about 30 minutes after the last egg was laid.
For the next 24 to 28 hours, the hen’s body will work on creating and forming the egg, with the majority of that time being spent forming the shell.
Keep in mind that although most layers will produce an egg every day, the frequency could be affected by hen age and breed, weather, the presence of predators, or access to light.
What Time of Day Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
Since hormones related to light are what trigger a hen’s ovulation, most eggs will be laid in the very early morning hours the day after the hen begins the process of forming the egg.
Keep in mind that different breeds will lay at different times.
For example, broiler hens will lay eggs very early, sometimes even before dawn, while breeds that produce colored eggs will tend to lay theirs later in the day.
How Do Chickens Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Do chickens produce eggs without a rooster?
Yes! Hens can form and lay eggs without a rooster around.
The egg-making process will happen naturally no matter what. A hen’s body is able to do that on its own.
So, without a rooster, the eggs you are collecting are unfertilized eggs. They taste and look the exact same as fertilized eggs.
Can Unfertilized Eggs Hatch?
If you are looking to raise chicks, you will need to have a rooster. Without a rooster, unfertilized eggs cannot hatch because no chick can develop inside the egg.
Do We Eat Fertilized Eggs?
Even if you do have a rooster, your hens’ eggs will still be good to eat as long as you remove them from the nest and place them in the refrigerator within a day or two of them being laid.
That stops any embryo development that could otherwise occur. You will never crack open an egg and be surprised by a chick inside.
Fertilized eggs are no different to eat than unfertilized eggs.
What is a Red Spot in an Egg Yolk?
If you notice a red spot in your egg yolk, it’s a sign that the egg was fertilized.
The egg is still perfectly safe to eat.
Sometimes there are signs that it’s fertilized, but because there was no incubation period, the egg itself will not turn into a baby chick or continue to grow.
How Does a Rooster Fertilize Eggs?
How is a chicken egg fertilized?
The rooster will mate with the hen and fertilize the egg while the egg is at the beginning of the oviduct, before the egg white forms.
When a rooster is present, the rooster will mate with the hens to fertilize eggs.
- The rooster will attract a hen by doing a sort of “dance.” While standing next to her, he will drop one wing and shift his weight back and forth.
- If the hen accepts, she will squat down and allow the rooster to mount her.
- The rooster will insert the papilla, or small raised bump, on the male cloaca, into the hen’s opened cloaca (where the egg will later come out) to deposit sperm.
How Do Farmers Know if a Chicken Egg is Fertilized?
The easiest way to tell if an egg is fertilized is through a process called “candling.”
The farmer will hold the egg up in front of bright light about 10 days after incubating.
If they can see a dark shadow in the egg with blood vessels, the egg has most likely been fertilized.
Read our related article on How to Candle a Chicken Egg With a Flashlight. Here’s how you can candle eggs at home!
How to Encourage Egg Laying in Hens
If your hens are struggling to lay eggs even during the bright summer days, there are a few things you can do to help encourage egg laying:
- Add an artificial light in the hen house during early morning hours to encourage egg production.
- Make sure each hen has her own nest where she can lay her eggs.
- Reevaluate what you are feeding your hens. They should be on a type of layer feed.
- Add in a calcium source, such as oyster shells. This will help with the shell-forming step, which is the longest and most strenuous step in the process.
- Protect your hens from the weather. Make sure they have a warm, safe, and protected place to shelter.
- Keep predators away. Fear due to potential predators could cause a disruption in the egg-laying process.
Read More: Heat Lamp Alternative for Chickens. Worried a heat lamp will be too hot for your chicks and chickens? These may be good alternatives.
How Long Does it Take for a Chicken to Lay an Egg?
In total, the process above takes around 25 hours.
Does Every Egg Become a Chicken?
Only fertilized eggs are able to grow into embryos and eventually hatch as chicks. Without a rooster around, unfertilized eggs will never become chickens.
Can Two Chickens Be Born out of the Same Egg?
Although it happens rarely, two chicks can be born out of the same egg.
This can happen when an egg develops two yolks inside.
However, most of the time when an egg forms with two yolks inside, only one will survive to become an embryo.
Read More: How Do You Hatch a Chicken Egg Without an Incubator? If you don’t have an incubator, here are some homemade options to try!