When my wife and I decided to add chickens to our budding home farm, we weren’t sure how many we wanted to get.
So we decided to start with the end goal in mind.
We picked a number of eggs that we’d hope to get per week.
One of our first numbers was a dozen (although now, as our boys have gotten older, we’ve increased that number by quite a bit).
12 eggs is a good number per week for the average household, but how many chickens did we need to get that number per week?
To get a dozen eggs per week, you’ll need around five chickens. Except when molting, chickens are expected to lay one egg two out of every three days. Another way to look at this is to take the total number of chickens and multiply it by two-thirds to reach the daily amount you’ll get.
For more details and more ideas on how many chickens you’ll need for different numbers of eggs, check out the rest of this article.
Table of Contents
How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay Per Day?
This number is somewhat debated by experts and farmers alike.
Through my experience and even more research with everyone around me with egg-laying hens, I’ve discovered that the average seems to be around two-thirds of the number of chickens per day.
So if you have 6 chickens, expect (on average) to get 4 eggs per day.
Another way to look at it is through this equation:
# of Chickens x 2/3 = Average # of eggs per day.
This is, of course, with adult chickens and when the chickens aren’t molting.
When chickens are molting their feathers, they’re using their protein to produce more feathers.
Feathers are made mostly of protein.
When a chicken needs new feathers, it doesn’t have the nutrients to make up for it AND keep up its egg production.
But outside of this, two-thirds is a pretty good number.
This means a single hen will produce eggs about four days per week.
This varies slightly depending on the time of year and other factors.
If you find that you’re far below the 50% mark for egg production and they’re not molting, you need to reevaluate how you’re feeding them because they may need more protein.
This number is a good, solid rule for you to follow.
Some people reach this number; some reach an egg daily.
How Many Hens Do I Need To Get A Dozen Eggs Per Week?
The average American family consumes around a dozen eggs per week, whether in cake or for breakfast.
So this is the main question we’ll tackle.
To get a dozen eggs per week, you’ll want to reverse the multiplication problem here and divide by two-thirds instead of multiplying by two-thirds.
Take 12, divided by two-thirds, and we’ll get 18.
Now, this is per day.
You’d need 18 chickens per day to get a dozen eggs.
But we want per week.
Divide this number 18 by 7 to get the weekly value.
This answer is around two and a half.
I hear you complaining:
Wait! You said we should have 5 chickens!
It’ll take you some time before you find the right feed and the right environment set up to hit that 12 eggs a week mark, and having extra eggs is never a bad thing.
Molting, storms, and cooler temperatures will lessen egg production, so increasing the number of hens a bit will help you get 12 eggs per week on average year-round.
It’s always possible to sell those extra eggs too.
In the purest answer to this question, you’ll need three hens to produce a dozen eggs per week on average.
But to be safe, we recommend going with 5.
This has always worked out for our family (at least until our boys started eating a lot more than 12 eggs per week).
How Many Chickens Do You Need Chart
Reading all the math is nice, but sometimes you just want an easy chart to help you pick a number.
Well, we’re here to help!
This chart tells you the number of eggs you want per day and how many hens you’ll need to reach this number on average.
Of course, you may start lower than this at first, and you may even end up higher.
We’ll include two columns; one for the bare minimum to reach this number on average and one for safety.
Ultimately the choice is up to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask other farmers or homesteaders in your area.
In my experience, everyone is always willing to talk about their chickens.
|Number of Eggs You Want Per Day
|Bare Minimum Numbers of Chickens
|Number of Chickens For Safety
What Helps Chickens Produce More Eggs?
In a single word: protein.
Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to egg production.
Chickens need to be healthy overall, but eggs are almost entirely protein from the shell down to the yolk.
So for a chicken to consistently produce eggs, it needs to have good amounts of protein in its diet.
It may take some time depending on your area, how much natural food is available, the type of chickens you have, and their overall health to hit the right amount, so they’re producing an egg two out of every three days,
But with time and patience and a little experimentation, you’ll get there.
The best way to introduce more protein is to use a higher quality feed.
Most new chicken owners look at the price of different feeds and kind of write it off.
They’ll go for the cheapest option or the more medium-priced option.
You get what you give your chickens.
So make sure that you’re using the best.
A lot of owners also supplement with more animal protein using table scraps or cat kibble.
This is fine; chickens eat almost anything.
Just make sure you know what’s in the food, and the pieces are small enough for them to swallow easily.
Organic feed is becoming more popular and more affordable, and in our experience, this often produces not only the most eggs but often the best eggs of them all.
So go organic if at all possible.
If you don’t want to pay for the organic type of feed, go ahead and get some feed from a reputable source, such as Scratch and Peck or Grubbly Farms.
Scratch and Peck Organic feed is our favorite.
Click to the check price on Amazon.
Be careful when feeding them certain foods or experimenting with foods as it may cause gastrointestinal problems.
Burping is cute in chickens, but it may be a sign of something more serious.
For more details, check out our article on if chickens burp and what it means.
Commonly Asked Questions
Which Chicken Species Lays The Most Eggs Consistently?
Most chickens lay eggs according to this average, but some are considered prolific layers.
These are five common breeds with a higher than average chance of laying eggs almost daily all year long.
- White leghorn*
- Rhode Island Red*
- Ameraucana/Easter Egg Chicken*
- New Hampshire Red*
- Plymouth Rock
- Golden Comet
*These are the top egg producers.
When Will A Hen Start Laying Hands?
Most hens lay eggs starting as young as 18 weeks of age.
The eggs may be small at first, but they’re still tasty!
They even start with the 2 out of every 3 day rate (or even higher) pretty quickly.
Younger chickens lay eggs more often. Older birds start to lay eggs less.
It’s just a part of life.
Do Hens Need Roosters To Lay Eggs?
Hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs.
They lay eggs all on their own, but the eggs will never get fertilized and hatch into chicks without a rooster.
It may seem like if you have a rooster around, your hens may start to lay more eggs.
This makes some sense logically; some animals produce more when mates are around.
Chickens aren’t one of these animals, though.
The presence of roosters has zero effect on egg production.
How Do I Get A Chickens Eggs To Be Bigger?
Heavier hens = bigger eggs.
All the same steps for giving more eggs also help with egg size.
Increase feed, increase protein, keep the chickens happy, and do this over time.
Some experts think increasing linoleic acid will also increase egg size, though the research is still unproven.
Still, more and more data and stories from farmers show this may be true.
Why Is My Chicken Not Laying Eggs?
Chickens are sensitive, and any little thing will set them off and cause them to stop laying for a couple of days or longer.
Make sure they’re well-fed and safe, and eventually, they’ll start laying again.
Here are some reasons your chicken may stop laying eggs:
- Cold weather
- Old age
- Low protein