How Long do hens lay eggs? Why aren't my chickens laying?

How long does it take for a chicken egg to hatch?
How often do chickens lay eggs?
How can you tell if a hen is old?
How long do hens lay eggs?
Why are my hens not laying?
Do hens need a rooster to lay eggs?
Does coop color influence egg production of chickens?
How long does it take a chicken to lay an egg?
How are chicken eggs fertilized?


How long does it take for a chicken egg to hatch?
Baby peeps will hatch from their eggs about 21 days after they begin the incubation period. In an incubator, this number can be easily monitored. However, when a laying hen who hatches her own eggs,  she will first lay a clutch over a period of a couple weeks and then begin sitting on them all at the same time. Thus the amount of time it takes for the chicken egg to hatch is longer when accounting for the days after it is laid before the hen begins the sitting, or 21-day natural incubation, process.


How often do chickens lay eggs?
Frequency of egg laying varies by breed. Some chickens are prolific layers, such as Leghorns and Rhode Island Red & Rhode Island White breeds, which lay 5-7 eggs a week at their peak. Conversely, some chickens have light egg production, including the rare Buckeye chicken that lays 2 eggs a week. Plymouth Rock hens are in the middle with about three eggs per week. How often chickens lay eggs depends on their breed and strain. Learn as much as you can about the egg-producing chicken breeds before selecting your hens.

How can you tell if a hen is old?
Figuring out the age of your hen is the best way to tell if a hen is old and won't lay eggs as productively, or at all. The average life span of a hen is five years. Their best egg production is during the first two years; after that they lay fewer eggs per week until they taper off production entirely. If you are looking at hens to purchase, the best way to get your money's worth is to buy young pullets who are not yet laying, rather than hens who have already been in production for some time. Keep track of your hens' ages with leg bands, which you can color code for the year the hen hatched or simply inscribe with the date.


How long do hens lay eggs?
Hens lay well for the first two years of their lives, and then production begins to drop off. Hens that are five years or older may still lay an egg several times a month, but their limited production usually means they are culled from the flock (unless owners wish to keep them as pets). Most commercial egg productions cull hens after the first or second year of egg production for maximum efficiency.


Why are my hens not laying?
If your hens are not laying, there are several factors that need to be considered. Are the hens old, as in 5 years or older? Egg production slows dramatically after the first three years. They may not be laying in the winter if there is not enough light to stimulate egg production. This can be fixed by turning on a light bulb in their coop in the early morning and late evening (using a timer is best). If there has recently been a disruption, such as a new coop built or new hens added to the flock, or the chickens have been moved, they may stop laying eggs for a few weeks and then begin laying again.


Do hens need a rooster to lay eggs?
No, hens do not need a rooster to lay eggs; they will produce eggs regardless of the presence or absence of a male chicken. However, they will only have fertile eggs or be able to hatch eggs into chicks if there is a rooster to fertilize them.


Does coop color influence egg production of chickens?
No, coop color does not in any way influence hens' egg production. Their laying frequency and egg color will not alter based on coop color.


How long does it take a chicken to lay an egg?
From the time she enters the coop or sits on her nest until she actually lays the egg is generally about 30 minutes. However, much of that time is spent preparing for delivery of the egg. Once she stands up to actually lay the egg, it only takes a minute or so for the egg to come out.


How are chicken eggs fertilized?
Chicken eggs are fertilized internally before they are laid, from sperm deposited in the female when the rooster and hen mate. Since it takes about 7-10 days for the sperm to travel to the ovary where they fertilize the ovum as it is released, a chicken won't have fertile eggs for at least a week after she is first mated. She will continue to lay fertile eggs for about 6 to ten days after she has last been mated.

Go back to Raising Chickens or home to Egg Laying Chickens, or check out other chicken-related resources online:

A medium sized chicken coop built from these plans

Best Coop Plans:

How to Build a Chicken Coop - detailed plans and construction guide for making backyard coops. 

These chicken coop plans and building guide are the best I've found, and purchased them myself to build our first coops. There are five different chicken coops included, beginning with the most basic double-story ark and culminating with the largest design, the Chicken Barn with attached screened-in chicken yard. I want to use their plans again for their largest chicken coop, the chicken barn, when we are ready to upsize our chicken flock's habitat.  The coop pictured here is a medium-sized all-in-one design. 

Book about keeping chickens

Recommended Chicken Books:

Favorite Chicken Quotes

‚€œ A chicken you eat only once ‚€” eggs a hundred times." ~ Tajikistani Proverb

‚€œ You cannot cook one half of the chicken and leave the other to lay eggs." ~ Sanskrit Proverb

‚€œ You don‚€™t have to kill the chicken to get eggs." ~ French Proverb