"High-producing, well-fed backyard hens can lay up to 250 eggs in their first year of production. This is because it takes 24-26 hours to create each egg, and hens take a natural break each year for molting - often as days get shorter in the fall."
Popular egg-laying breeds likely to have a strong show in their first year include: White Leghorn hybrids (white eggs), Plymouth Barred Rocks (brown eggs), Rhode Island Reds (brown eggs), Blue Andalusians (white eggs) or Ameraucanas (blue eggs).
Plymouth Barred Rock, Sussex or Buff Orpingtons, commonly known as dual-purposed breeds of chickens, are also known to achieve top performance.
A Purina nutritionist tells us that egg production naturally declines each year:
"Within their first year of life, most laying hens will be at their peak production at about 30 weeks of age," Biggs explains. "The first eggs will likely be smaller and increase in size over time. As your birds age, egg size will even out, and egg count will gradually drop.
"At about 2 years old, you can estimate a hen will lay about 80 percent the eggs she did in her first year. So, if your hen lays 250 eggs in her first year, you can estimate she'll lay about 200 eggs under ideal conditions in her second year.
"When your hen is in her third year of laying, you can estimate to have just under 70 percent the production of the first year, and in the fourth year of laying about 60 percent of the first year's production. See the accompanying graph from the University of Florida to help estimate the number of eggs you can expect from your flock each year."
Some chickens will live years after they stop laying eggs and go into retirement.
Do chickens lay eggs all year?
Most hens naturally slow down their laying when fall and winter months come unless supplemental lighting sources are used to provide up to 16 hours of light each day. In addition, stressed hen is not going to produce as many eggs as a happy, healthy chicken.
Chicken coops can have a lot of dynamics that will impact how often your chickens lay eggs. They also may be experiencing a molt which is seasonal and when they lose feathers. Other things to think about?
- Are you putting out oyster shells to help with calcium as this will strengthen the eggshell? Some layer feeds need this supplement.
- Do you have a clean nest box for your hens to lay in? The nesting box can make a difference.
- Do you have a broody hen that wants to sit on eggs rather than worry about laying eggs?
- Do you have pullets? They won't even start laying until they're six or seven months old.
- What different breeds do you have? Are they on this list?
- What time of year is it? Are there enough daylight hours to get eggs?
My polish chickens are a breed of chicken that don't lay as well as some others like Plymouth rocks.
Know someone who would like to add these chicken breeds to their flock? Tell us in the comments below!