Why Do Chickens Lay Eggs Every Day But Other Birds Don’t?

You wake up every morning to collect your chicken eggs. While you’re thankful there’s organic eggs to eat daily, it’s normal to wonder why do chickens lay eggs everyday, but other birds don’t.

Why Do Chickens Lay Eggs Every Day? It all comes down to Biology. Chickens’ bodies have a goal of eggs to fulfill; that’s why they lay eggs daily. Other birds don’t necessarily have the same goal, so they don’t need to release eggs as frequently. 

Are there other reasons? That’s what we’re here to discuss!

How Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

In order to understand how chickens lay eggs daily, you need to have an all-inclusive view of the laying process. It’s different from other birds, which explains why chickens lay more frequently. 

The Fertilization Process

Fertilization is the only constant between all living creatures. Each species gives birth in its own way. However, in all cases, a sperm cell must fertilize the egg in order for a kid to be born. Chickens can lay unfertilized eggs too, but we’ll discuss that later.

Contrary to humans, chickens only have one functional ovary. The ovary is full of follicles, waiting for maturity. When they’re mature, yolk forms before ditching the ovary and moving to the oviduct

The egg stays for about 15 minutes in the Infundibulum; that’s where the fertilization occurs. Then, it lasts for up to three hours in the Magnum. In this duration, the white part forms. Lastly, the egg reaches the Isthmus, where the outer membrane forms in a maximum of one hour.

When the fertilization occurs, the born cell gains its trait from both male and female cells, half and half. In the case of humans, the baby takes its time to grow inside the womb before birth. 

That’s not the way it is with chickens, though. The animal’s body only provides hard packaging for the cell, so it’s protected while growing. Then, the chicken lays the eggs, and they’re left to hatch out in the open.

How Much Time It Takes

Since the chicken’s bodies are only required to wrap the egg cells in hardcover, the process doesn’t take much time. The egg is mostly surrounded by soft layers, which are easy and quick to form. As for the hard shell, it takes about 19 hours to create. Therefore, the whole process takes almost a day.

That’s why chickens mostly lay one egg per day. When they reach a full clutch, they’ll stop and lay over the nest.

The egg’s hard shell is calcium carbonate. The chicken provides it from her own bones. To compensate for it, she must have a reliable dietary schedule.

When Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?

Contrary to common belief, chickens don’t keep laying eggs until they run out. Every chicken has a goal of laying a clutch of eggs. A clutch consists of a dozen eggs. Once the chicken fulfills her goal, she’ll stop laying until the nest is empty again.

There’s a question that may be crossing your mind now: how do chickens know that they laid a clutch? Chicken are smart creatures, but they’re not that smart. They don’t count the eggs going out of their bodies. Instead, they see the number of eggs in the nest.

That’s why the chicken will keep laying if you keep taking eggs out of the nest. When their nests are short of a clutch, they’ll keep releasing eggs, aiming at fulfilling the common goal of 12 eggs.

Do Chickens Lay Unfertilized Eggs?

do birds sit on unfertilized eggs
Chickens don’t know whether an egg is unfertilized and will brood whenever they want.

Yes, chickens can lay unfertilized eggs. In fact, most the eggs we eat are unfertilized, which is a lot!

Chickens have the ability to lay eggs, whether a male rooster is present or not. Most people think that all chickens are females, but they’re not.

All they need is light. It’s an impressive trait, really. Their bodies release eggs without the need for any regulation by males, which makes it much easier for farmers. They don’t have to deal with breeding, like the way it is with horses, for example.

The unfertilized eggs won’t contain a baby chick, but that’s not a problem when the goal is to sell the eggs. 

In other cases, the egg will get fertilized normally before being released. The chicken will then lay over it until it hatches. This is how breeding goes, unless the farmers collect the eggs before incubation. In that case, the egg will be safe to eat; the baby wouldn’t have grown yet.

How Many Eggs Can a Single Chicken Lay?

Now that you understand how a chicken’s laying process goes, you also know that it’ll keep laying if you keep taking the eggs out. Does that mean it’ll go forever? The answer is no. Even chickens have a limit. Their bodies can make only a limited number of eggs per year.

Chickens rise to their prime laying when they’re 20–78 weeks old. A lot of them keep laying afterward, but that’s when their bodies are the most active. On average, a chicken can lay up to 300 eggs annually. That’s considering she doesn’t stop laying at some periods during the year.

Many people think their chickens stop laying eggs because they can’t find them. But maybe your chicken is burying their eggs, making it harder for you to find them.

Usually, a chicken stops laying eggs during winter due to the lack of light. However, humans couldn’t let that happen. For the chickens to keep laying eggs, farmers now install artificial lights. The chicken then gets tricked and keeps laying all year long.

How Other Birds Lay Eggs

Here’s the thing, chickens are bred to lay eggs. That’s how farmers get their gain out of the birds. So, when a chicken lays eggs, the farmer will take them, and the chicken will keep laying, trying to fulfill a clutch.

Is that the same as with other birds? Yes and no. Other birds lay eggs in clutches too, but each clutch has a different number of eggs. For example, a red-tailed hawk will lay three eggs per clutch. Meanwhile, a laysan albatross will lay only one egg. Wood ducks can lay up to 15 eggs, while Adelie penguins have clutches of twos.

The clutch variations depend on many factors, including food availability, age, weather, latitude, and season. In the case of these birds, no one wants to take their eggs. So, when they give birth to a clutch, they’ll nest over it without worrying about laying again, contrary to chickens.

Things That Affect the Laying Process

The most prominent factor that affects a chicken’s ability to lay is her age. As I mentioned previously, each chicken has a prime of laying. After this duration, she’ll still be able to lay eggs, but with a much lower frequency.

After around three years, the laying gets scarce. That’s when breeders replace the chickens when younger ones to keep the production rate constant.

The chicken’s breed can also determine how often it lays eggs. Some species can lay only one egg per week, while other breeds can lay up to five. Make sure that the breed you’re choosing can lay your desired number of eggs.

Another factor that affects the laying is stress. Like humans, stress compromises chicken’s productivity. In this case, it’s the laying that gets affected. That’s why breeders should make sure their hens are comfortable with their surroundings.

Lastly, nutrition is a significant contributor to chicken’s ability to lay eggs. If your chickens aren’t following a strict healthy diet, there’s a high chance they won’t be able to produce healthy eggs. That’s because the hard shell takes a lot of calcium carbonate from their bones to form. They need to compensate for the lost amount.

Final Thoughts

It turns out that chickens aren’t super creatures, after all. If it was for them, they’d stop laying after they get a full clutch. But that’s not how humans want it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had this massive amount of eggs to eat!

There’s also the fact that chickens have one of the largest clutches among birds. Their clutch has a dozen eggs, while other birds may only have one egg. So, in the end, it’s a matter of abilities!