Chickens provide us with eggs throughout the year, this food being one of the most consumed worldwide. Their versatility when using them in the kitchen together with their nutritional properties makes them an excellent option to incorporate them into a multitude of dishes. However, why do chickens produce so many eggs? There is no doubt that despite the existence of eggs from other animals used for human consumption; hens are the ones with the greatest presence in the food industry. It is then when different doubts may come to mind, such as how many eggs a hen lays per year or per day.

In this article we will investigate egg production by laying hens to determine if there is any difference between hens used exclusively for laying eggs and those that live in the wild.

When chickens lay eggs

A hen needs 16 hours of light to produce an egg, a correct diet that provides the necessary nutrients and the course of 24 hours. The eggs contain the hen’s egg, which is shed every month and is expelled through it. So, is it true that we eat the hen’s menstruation? The truth is that yes, but it is not comparable to the menstruation of mammalian animals.

Hens begin their egg lying season after 20 weeks of life, at which point they can produce their first egg. Throughout the year, the laying of eggs of a hen varies by the total hours of light that there are during the day. For this reason, at times of the year with less light, hens produce fewer eggs, while at times with more light, egg lying will increase. But then, how is it possible that we can eat the same amount of eggs throughout the year? Well, this is where the use of chickens exclusively for the food industry comes into play. From here we will explain how many eggs a hen lays per year and per day.

How many eggs does a hen lay per year

The laying hens we know today are descended from an ancestor that was only capable of laying sets of 12 eggs at different times of the year. More than a hundred years ago they began to breed more beautiful specimens for display until they realized that they could be useful to produce a greater quantity of eggs. It was then that selective rearing for egg laying resulted in two main types of hens with a high egg-laying capacity.

Thus, when asked how many eggs a hen can lay per year, we can say that they have the capacity to produce about 300 eggs per year. This is possible because the hens’ egg production time is maintained throughout the year regardless of the hours of sunlight using artificial lights. In this way, the hens lay the same number of eggs throughout a year.

How many eggs does a hen lay a day

If we take into account the explanation of the previous point, we can predict how many eggs a hen can lay per day. Birds that are bred in captivity for the food industry are fed to produce as many eggs as possible. These hens lay an average of 1 egg per spring day in late autumn or early winter, at which point their production would naturally decrease if it were not for the use of artificial light. Sometimes these animals are exposed to even more hours of light than usual so that they are able to lay more than one egg in a day.

Why chickens need light to lay eggs

Hens need a minimum of 16 hours of light to produce eggs. During this period of time the pituitary gland of these birds is stimulated and releases the hormones responsible for egg laying. When there is no light, this gland is not activated; hence the use of artificial light so that it remains stimulated and continues the process of laying eggs.

Laying hens versus free-range hens

We must bear in mind that the number of eggs that a hen can lay varies depending on the conditions in which it is raised. Thus, a hen raised exclusively for laying eggs will be fed and exposed to artificial light stimulating higher production. However, a hen in freedom will have a completely natural egg lying by not receiving any external stimuli from humans. In this way, a free-range hen will be able to lay eggs throughout the year when it has natural light, but the total number of eggs produced will not be as high as that of a domestic hen. This is so because it will be exposed to less light at some times of the year and because it will have another type of diet.

We must remember that today we can find different types of eggs that are differentiated by the first digit that appears in each of them:

  • Number 3. They are hens that lay their eggs in cages and that do nothing but produce throughout their lives until they are old. They feed only on feed and water but have no contact with nature. These are the hens that produce the highest number of eggs during the year.
  • Number 2. The hens are not in cages, but they are locked in a warehouse where they can move in a limited space that has an area with a feeder and a drinker. However, they have no contact with the outside world.
  • Number 1. It corresponds to the eggs produced by free-range chickens. These birds roam freely outside, are exposed to sunlight and are not usually crowded.
  • Number 0. They are eggs from organic chickens. They are birds that are always in an open space in full contact with the sunlight, they are fed with organic feed and they lay their eggs when and where they want.


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