Heated Chicken Waterers

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heard heated chicken waterers can make life easier, but aren’t sure which to buy? Not even sure they’re safe? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know!

For people like us, who raise animals out of the comforts of a heated home, cold is a serious problem. If the temperature drops too far, water freezes. While some animals can break ice – with breath and a hot tongue, or a beak – there are limits to what these resources can do. And when temperatures plummet, dehydration can be a major problem for your fur or feather babies. 

One solution – heated chicken waterers – are a simple method of providing water to your flock. Today we’ll look at the kinds of heated waterers available for our chickens. 

Our Favorite Heated Chicken Waterers On Amazon:

Do Chickens Need to Drink Water?

Oh yes, chickens absolutely drink water. It might be funny to watch them – they fill their mouths and then tip their heads back – but water is an absolutely necessary part of their daily diet. Actually, an adult chicken will drink a few cups of water per day. Get a group of 20 chickens together, and they’ll likely go through as much water per day as a cow. 

Are Heated Chicken Waterers Safe?

Mostly, yes. You need to watch out for how hot they get, and how much electricity they draw. It’s best to look at your user manual and reviews online for the specific unit you’re considering.

Are There Different Types Of Heated Chicken Waterers?

Not including home-made, there are three different types of heated chicken waterers:

Automatic Waterers 

These waterers contain a basin that has one or more openings at the base that open only when chickens use them. These are generally clean, neat, and very hygienic. Depending on the valve, these waterers also avoid dripping water and frozen puddles beneath them. However, some parts are more prone to freezing.

Gravity-Type Waterers 

These operate under the same principle as the automatic waterers, save for one major difference: the distribution method. These jugs generally are attached to an open pan (also known as a “drinker”) that your chickens will drink from. Because they are open, you run the risk of your birds contaminating the pan. The drinkers are also pretty easy to break off. 

Open Pans Or Dish-type Waterers 

These are often a pan set out over a heated base. They run the same risk of contamination as the gravity waterers, which will require more scrubbing than, say, the automatic waterers. Elevating them off the ground in the heated base will help to reduce the muddying of waters. 

What Makes The “Ideal” Heated Chicken Waterer?

This is a complicated question. There are several key elements to consider:

  • How cold does it get in your area?
  • How many chickens are in your coop?
  • What material works best for you?
  • Should it rest on the floor or be elevated? 
  • Is it durable enough or will it freeze? 

Affordability is another concern. Some options – like batteries – can cost a lot over time. Some heated chicken waterers (especially the do-it-yourself variety) could put unnecessary stress on your wallet. 

How many chickens have you got? The answer to this will determine the size of your waterer, as you don’t want to be slogging out into the cold every couple of hours to refill the water of your birds. 

In other words, the ideal waterer will completely depend on your flock. Just make sure it’s durable so in the event that the water does freeze, the container won’t rupture or break. 

Let’s further explore these questions below.

How Big Should It Be?

As previously mentioned, a flock of 20 birds will drink about as much as a cow – that’s a whole lot of water to provide. If your flock consists of fewer than 5 birds, a single 2-gallon waterer should suffice. Most single waterers range in size from about a gallon to 3 gallons. The heaters in heated chicken waterers are very adept at cooling off smaller areas, but anything larger than that could run into problems with the law thermal equilibrium, which states that temperatures will seek a balance. 

In extremely cold weather, some heaters might prove insufficient in warming large quantities of water. 

With the addition of more birds, you will probably need more heated chicken waterers. Some sources recommend having on three-gallon waterer for every 10 to 12 chickens. 

What Kinds Of Automatic Valves Are There For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Nipples are a type of automatic valve that is fast becoming a preferred method of watering chickens on cold winter days. These are designed to not release water until your chicken pokes it with their beaks. 

Floating valves are small cups of water. When your chickens dip their beaks into the cup, they press on a floating valve that releases fresh water into the cup. This provides a constant set amount of water in this hanging waterer.

Should I Use Plastic Or Metal For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Ultimately, that is your call. Both materials are excellent in cold weather. Plastic waterers are durable and do not break easily. Galvanized metal also holds up very well in extreme cold BUT freezes faster than plastic. Both can be found with internal or external heaters, though plastic heaters usually have the heating element in the base. 

Should I Hang My Heated Chicken Waterers Or Lay Them On The Ground?

This is an important question, that depends, in part, on what you have available in your coop or in your pen. One clear benefit of hanging waterers is you can raise it off the ground, and your chickens are less likely to roost on them (which means less poop). Elevating the water from the ground reduces the chances your flock will poop in it. 

Ground-based waterers don’t have to be messy, however. A waterer set upon a heating pad can still get that required height and also remain equally clean to hanging heated chicken waterers. 

How Often Should I Refill My Heated Chicken Waterer?

The easy answer is “Whenever they need filling.” Since most waterers can hold upwards of a couple of gallons, they have a bit of staying power. Still, you should be checking your waterers at least once every day. That way, you can top off the containers when you see they need it, and you can see if they need to be cleaned. Your chickens might have made a mess of the waterers, and you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. 

Are There Heated Chicken Waterers Without Electricity Needed?

Some heated chicken waterers don’t require electricity, such as solar powered heated waterers. Others include battery-powered heaters. You can read this article here for an excellent how-to that breaks down a number of means of keeping your chickens hydrated – and all without electricity!

What About Solar Heated Chicken Waterers?

The simplest solution would be to have a large black tub that is not too tall for your chickens to reach. Place this into the sunniest part of the coop, and over the course of the day, the heat from the sun might prove to be enough to keep your flock hydrated. In colder climates, however, this might not work as well, and alternative heating might be required. 

Are There Do-it-Yourself Heated Chicken Waterers?

There are a number of sources out there across the internet that offer solutions for homemade water heaters. Here’s 2 that we like:

Where to Find Heated Chicken Waterers?

You can usually find them at farm stores, like Tractor Supply. You can also find them on Amazon here:

We hope this information about heated chicken waterers helps you keep your chickens hydrated and healthy, even through the bitter chills have arrived! Stay warm!

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

How To Keep Your Chickens Laying Through The Winter

How To Keep Your Chickens Laying Through The Winter

Today we’re going to talk about keeping your hens laying through winter.

And since mine have started to drop off in production, this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

There’s many reasons why a hen can drop off production in the winter, and we’re going to look at reasons why that happens, both biological and environmental, and what you can do about it.

Some people like to give their hens the winter off, or let nature do its thing and go with the flow as their hens naturally drop egg production in the winter. Personally, I like to be eating omelets year round, so I try to keep my chickens producing eggs in the winter.

Why do chickens stop laying in the winter?

The biggest reason hens stop laying in the winter is because the days get shorter, and so there’s less light. Egg production is triggered by light, specifically by the pituitary gland and the amount of light that is affecting the pituitary gland. And since shorter days mean less light, it triggers the pituitary gland to stop producing the hormones that command egg production.

Chickens need about fourteen hours of light per day to keep laying eggs. Now this isn’t to say every hen needs fourteen hours, and we’ve even bred chickens that will keep laying throughout shorter days, such as Production Reds. But generally speaking, most chickens need fourteen hours or so of light in order to lay eggs consistently.

From an evolutionary stand point, more energy is needed to keep a hen alive during the winter. And chicks are less likely to survive in the winter because chicks have a harder time maintaining their own body temperature until they feather out. So there’s less evolutionary value in producing eggs during the winter. So from that angle, it makes sense why hens don’t lay in the winter!

Now for people this stinks, obviously, because we have to work to keep egg production up, or just simply go without eggs.

How can I keep my hens laying?

There are several things you can do to keep your hens laying through the winter. The main thing is adding light. In order to keep your hens laying throughout the winter you have to supplement the light that your chickens get with artificial light. In our coop, we use battery powered lamps.

If you’re lucky enough to have electric lights in your coop, you can use those, or you can also use solar energy. That’s a great option if you are off grid. We’re looking at getting solar panels for our coop this winter, but for now we’re just using battery powered lanterns.

One thing to keep in mind is you need to use a strong light.  When we first started putting lamps in the coop, the lamps just didn’t emit enough light and so it was useless. Obviously, you don’t need to blind your hens, but just using  a small LED flashlight, in my experience, doesn’t work. So we use battery operated lanterns, which shed enough light to keep egg production up, but not so much that it’s overwhelming for my hens.

I advise you to skip infrared heat lamps. That’s the red light bulbs. In my opinion, the risks are way too high. Those heat lamps get really, really, really hot! And all it takes is a hen knocking it down (and chickens are great at getting into trouble) and you might lose your whole flock to a fire.

Putting a light in your coop is the top way to keep your hens laying throughout winter. But let’s talk about some other things you can do that are really just as important.

Molting

So the next thing we’re going to talk about is molting. If you don’t know what molting is, when hens molt they’re losing one set of feathers and replacing them with new ones. This could take a couple months, and while hens are molting they aren’t producing eggs.

Now when a hen molts, her body naturally puts all of its energy into producing new feathers, hence the drop in egg production. This generally happens in the fall and in early winter after your hen’s first year. Usually when she’s about eighteen months old, although I have had them molt at younger ages.

Now there’s really nothing you can or should do to speed up molting. I know in factory farms with chickens, they try to speed it up. But you really shouldn’t be doing anything to speed it up. It’s a natural process. But one thing that you can do that might help is to feed your hens extra protein, so her body can redirect extra energy into producing eggs.

So if you have a hen that’s molting, you can try a 22% commercial feed, or something with a lot of protein in it. Try things such as mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, or wheat fodder. If you like to feed eggs to your chickens, eggs are another protein supplement you can give a molting hen.

I supplement molting hens with my Fluffiest Feathers Ever Chicken Supplement. It’s packed full of protein and nutrients to help your hens have the fluffiest feathers ever! You can find it in the store here: Fluffiest Feathers Ever Chicken Supplement

 

Make sure your hens have enough to eat

The third thing that you can do in the winter to keep your hens laying eggs is to make sure they get enough to eat, especially if your hens are used to foraging.

During the cooler weather, foraging obviously gets harder, and as the weather turns cooler, chickens start using more nutrients and energy from whatever they’re eating to keep warm. So if they get too cold, they’re going to take all the energy and put it to keeping warm instead of producing eggs.

So it’s really important in cool weather to make sure that your chickens are getting enough to eat. And if your hens will be cooped up all winter, or if there is a lot of snow and they don’t want to leave their coop, you’ll need to watch how much they’re eating and increase what you’re offering so that they have enough energy to make eggs.

And when I give this advice, I’m assuming that you’re also providing a supplementary light to promote egg production because the bottom line is that without the supplementary light, most chickens won’t lay. But making sure that they have enough to eat is also very important.

You can simply feed more of your hens regular ration or supplement with mealworms, if you don’t already feed them. If it’s gonna be a cold night, you can offer corn. But as a consistent way to increase their feed, I don’t suggest feeding corn. You’re better off offering just more of what they already normally eat, and making sure that they’re getting enough protein and calcium.

Calcium

To help keep your hens laying toward the winter, you should also make sure that they’re getting enough calcium. This is really important. Winter is an especially important time to offer oyster shells as a calcium supplement. You should do it all year round, but winter is especially an important time to do it.

I just offer oyster shells separately in a bowl or a dish. Don’t mix it with their feed, just offer it separately so they can take it as they need it.

Without the calcium supplement, hens will start to draw calcium from their own bones which you don’t want. It’s not to say that if you don’t offer oyster shells, they will absolutely draw calcium from their bones, but if they don’t get enough calcium in their diet, it will start to come from their own bodies.

So I suggest that you offer them oyster shells as a supplement and let them eat at it as they need it.

If you have any concerns about whether your chickens are getting the right diet or are deficient in anything, you can always take them to a vet to have blood pulled to double check. But as long as you’re sticking to a recommended diet and feeding enough, your chickens should be okay.

Just remember, that I’m not a vet, so this is just a public service announcement. If you have any concerns about your chickens not getting the right amount of nutrients, have a vet pull some blood and double check it.

Now let’s just talk about scratch for a minute. I think you should avoid scratch at all costs, especially commercial scratch. If you make it from home and it has enough protein, that’s one thing. But commercial scratch … I suggest that you just save your money and don’t buy it.

Personally I think you’re better off offering more of the regular feed, or offering some other tasty treat.

Stress

Now something else that can shut down egg production in winter, even if you do everything else right, is stress. When a hen’s body is stressed, she’s less likely to lay. So when it’s very hot or very cold, she is less likely to lay because her body is having a little bit more stress. But there’s also environmental stresses that can be brought on by winter and confinement.

Now as it gets colder, you might choose to keep your hens in the coop more often. Or when there’s a lot of snow hens will choose to stay in the coop rather than brave the elements. This can lead to some environmental stresses, especially if they’re used to getting out and about a lot.

This is the classic issue of overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to a drop in egg production and behaviors like egg eating, picking at each other, fighting. So when there’s snow everywhere and they don’t want to go outside, what are you going do?

Here’s what we do. In the past, we’ve put straw on the ground in the run. We don’t use shavings because shavings absorb water and it can become a boggy mess in the run very quickly. So we use straw which gives them a nice, clean place to walk and it’s a little bit warmer than snow.

Then to convince them to go outside we offer them treats, like mealworms. Pumpkin is another favorite. You can offer them any treat that they really go nuts for.

The situation of chickens being in the coop too much really becomes one of weighing the risks and the benefits. If they stay inside, what kind of behavioral, or even nutritional issues will they develop if they’re in the coop for long periods of time without sunlight. Vitamin D absorption can become an issue which then causes problems with calcium absorption. So look at the risks versus the benefits in making them go outside for a couple hours.

Obviously I’m not saying you should make them go outside in negative thirty degree weather or thirty mile an hour gusts. I definitely wouldn’t have them go outside in that case.

I’d definitely wait for a day when the weather is better. If you have really bad weather every day where you live, I’d consider building them an indoor warm area, like a greenhouse. But in reasonable winter weather, there’s no harm in making them go outside for a couple hours, and it will only benefit them and help avoid cabin fever.

Boredom Busters

Another option is what I like to call boredom busters. You can find a lot of examples out there on the internet. You can move perches around a lot to give them some interesting environmental things to think about. Something mine love are pumpkins, and literally what I do is I just break it in half and let them peck at the flesh and enjoy that for a few hours. We have about thirty chickens in our coop and it takes them a few hours to get through it all.

If you can’t find pumpkins in your area, you can offer them squash or other gourds. And the nice thing is that since the flesh is a little bit tougher in pumpkins and squash, it can take them some time to get through it, they get extra food, and they also love the seeds.

In my experience, the squash and the pumpkin keep them occupied longer which, in the dead of winter, when they’re bored, is always a good thing. It also keeps them moving around, which helps them keep their body temperature up.

With your flock, you can use some of these ideas to help reduce their stress levels, or you can always come up with your own to keep your flock occupied during colder days of the year when they might not want to go outside and play. And the less stress that they have, the more likely they are to keep laying throughout the winter.

If you want more boredom buster ideas you can head over to my article about my favorite gifts and winter boredom busters for your chickens.

So to sum up, making sure that your hens get enough to eat, get enough light, and have low levels of stress, will help you keep your hens laying eggs. Do you have any ideas you have on how to keep hens laying through the winter? What are your favorite winter boredom busters for chickens?

What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

September is here…..which means it’s time to think about what to do in your chicken coop in September!

 

It’s pumpkin season, and there’s lots you can do in your coop this month! Help your flock stay healthy and keep your coop in top shape with these tips!

 

If it gets cold early in your area, do a final deep clean before cool weather sets in.

You won’t want to do it when the ground is frozen and you need 3 sets of gloves to stay warm. If you live in a temperate area, now is still the time to deep clean your coop before the days get shorter and you run out of time.

 

You can also decide if the deep litter method is for you.

silkie pullet backyard chicken

Double check windows/doors for tight seals during chilly fall nights

When the wind is howling and there’s freezing rain, those tight seals can mean the difference between life and death. Just double check all your windows and doors seal well, and if not, fix it.

 

Offer your flock pumpkin and/or pumpkin seeds every week. They’ll love the treat, and it’s super healthy for them!

Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals, and chickens LOVE to peck at it. The pumpkin seeds might (repeat, might) help your flock rid themselves of worms (studies are inconclusive, but it’s can’t hurt), or at the very least, provide a yummy distraction since bugs and leaves are dying off.

 

You can also make a pumpkin planter like this one, and offer it to your flock when you’re done with it. Just be sure not to paint it!

 

If you have chicks, double check your coop stays the right temperature at night.

This will depend on the age of your chicks – if they only have down or are partially feathered, they will need your help to stay warm.

 

If not, either fix it or come up with a plan to keep chicks warm enough until they’re fully feathered. Remember that heat lamps get very hot and can cause a fire, so avoid them.

 

Hang some fall wreaths or add fall flowers to window boxes

Fall is all about color – and adding a wreath or flowers to your window boxes can brighten up your surroundings and help your flock feel pampered.

 

Backyard chicken coop window

 

If your coop is painted, do a fresh coat before cool weather sets in so your coop looks bright and colorful when the leaves are gone.

Ditto above. When fall’s colors fade, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort to repaint your coop so it looks cheerful even when it’s grey outside.

 

Start adding even more protein to your flock’s diet with mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, or Fluffiest Feathers Ever!

If your flock is molting, a high protein diet will help their feathers regrow. High protein diets also make sure flocks are in great shape to battle the cooler weather. You can feed a high protein diet or treats full time, or just during the molting season.

 

Make a plan for how you’ll keep their water from freezing

It’s bound to happen if you live in a cool area – so now is the time to decide how you’ll prevent freezing, or at least keep fresh water consistently available.

 

Here’s my best ideas for keeping your chickens’ water from freezing.

 

Spend more time with your flock – soon, the weather will be cold and you won’t want to be outside as much.

Nuff said. Here’s a great treat you can make – it includes pumpkin seeds, sage, and more!

 

Add a light to your coop if you want eggs all winter.

As the days get shorter, your hens might stop laying. This is natural, but it’s okay to still want eggs all winter. If you do, then add a light to their coop.

 

If you don’t have power in your coop, you can use a solar generator or a battery powered light. The bulb should stay cool and be a daylight simulator. You can also use a timer to turn it automatically on and off.

How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs? Ultimate Guide To Laying

How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs? Ultimate Guide To Laying

Eggs are one of the amazing benefits of having chickens in your care – along with companionship and having a coveted family pet and honorary member. But if you’re brand new to chickens, or if you’re trying to make sense of all the old wives tales out there, you might wonder “how often do chickens lay eggs anyway?”

Whenever a non-chicken person stops by the farm, I’m certainly asked this question! Well, if you’re wondering, “How many eggs do chickens lay?”, the truth is, it depends on a few factors:

  • Breed
  • Diet
  • The season
  • Their environment

Let’s take a look at each factor above, and by the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of how many eggs you can expect your hens to lay, as well as things that can cause egg laying to stop.

How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs And How Many?

Factor #1: Breed

Some chicken breeds are more inclined to lay eggs consistently, while other breeds aren’t. Obviously, this will effect how often these chickens lay eggs. Two extreme examples to illustrate this point are Cornish Crosses and Production Reds. These are industrial breeds; Cornish Crosses are raised for meat, while Production Reds are bred for egg laying in factory farms.

Cornish Crosses don’t lay eggs very often – when we raised them as pets, they laid one egg a week or so. They’re too heavy with too many health problems to expect any real amount of eggs.

On the other hand, Production Reds are bred to lay eggs no matter what – we’ve had some that laid a nice brown egg every day (yes, 7 days a week). Most breeds are somewhere in the middle – they’ll lay between 4-6 eggs a week.

Here’s a breakdown of how often different popular chicken breeds lay eggs:

Breed Frequency (on average) Lay in Winter?
How often do Silkie chickens lay eggs? 3-4 times a week Not without extra lights
How often do Ameraucana chickens lay eggs? 4-5 times a week Not without extra lights
How often do Bantam chickens lay eggs? 3-4 times a week Not without extra lights
How often do Barred Plymouth Rock chickens lay eggs? 4-5 times a week Yes, it’s possible
How often do Black Sex Link chickens lay eggs? 5-6 times a week Yes, it’s possible
How often do broiler chickens lay eggs? 1-2 times a week Not typically.
How often do Rhode Island Red chickens lay eggs? 5-6 times a week Heritage blood lines need extra lights, industrial blood lines might not.
How often do Dominique chickens lay eggs? 4-5 times a week Yes, it’s possible. Adding a light to the chicken coop is a good idea, though.
How often do free range chickens lay eggs? 4-5 times a week (if you can find them) If they’re not cooped regularly, probably not.
How often do Leghorn chickens lay eggs? 4-6 times a week Yes, it’s possible
How often do Partridge Rock chickens lay eggs? 4-5 times a week Yes, it’s possible

Factor #2: Diet

Diet effects egg laying ability, and it’s frequently people who aren’t feeding their flocks a good, high protein diet who email me asking “how often do chickens lay eggs?” because they’re frustrated with their hens. When a hen doesn’t have enough protein, nutrients, or calcium in her diet, it can cause her to stop laying eggs. After all, egg laying is about reproduction – if her body isn’t healthy, the first thing her body will do is stop anything except the bare necessities to live.

A diet that includes a 16% layer feed and a calcium supplement is ideal. You can free-feed your chickens, or offer 1-2 cups of grain per hen each day. These are the best chicken feeders we recommend that make it easy to feed hens without wasting a ton of food. It’s also a good idea to supplement her diet with table scraps or treats, such as black soldier fly larvae.

Factor #3: Seasons

Chickens will lay less in winter than they do in the spring, summer, and fall. Partly this is caused by the shortage of daylight in the winter, and partly (particularly in very cold areas) it’s caused by her body reserving calories for warmth. It takes a lot of energy to lay an egg! If she’s stopped laying from November – February, she’ll likely pick back up in March (in the Northern Hemisphere – this will be the opposite for our Aussie and Kiwi friends in the Southern Hemisphere).

Factor #4: Environment

Environmental stress can effect how often chicken lay eggs, so it’s always best to provide a quiet, predator free chicken coop that’s not over crowded.  When a hen is stressed, the calories she eats are diverted towards supporting her body – and not to laying eggs. In some cases, when a hen is very stressed over predators, she might stop laying together for a while.

Another reason hens stop laying is if their nesting boxes aren’t up to snuff. Chickens need to feel safe when laying eggs, and if they don’t, they might stop laying. A nesting box in a quiet, dark area that’s away from the rest of the flock (and especially roosters) is idea. You can make your chicken nesting boxes out of anything that’s easy to clean.

It’s also a good idea to put sweet smelling herbs in the nesting boxes – they’ll relax the hen and attract her to the nesting box (so she doesn’t lay elsewhere). Similarly, when chickens live in crowded conditions, or she lives with competing roosters who overly mate with her, it can spike her stress levels, and she’ll go off her eggs.

It’s best to build a coop with 10 square feet of space per bird, and with lots of roosting bars for them to rest on. It’s also important to keep out predators, rats, dogs, etc, so your flock feels safe. You can check out our top free chicken coop plans here.

How Often Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?

Chickens stop laying eggs for a variety of reasons: season, diet, and stress are some common factors. You also might think your hens have stopped laying eggs – but they’re actually hiding them! This is common with free range chickens. If your hen is broody, and is sitting on a clutch, she’ll also stop laying eggs until her chicks are hatched and able to fend for themselves (about 2-3 months). Weather also can effect egg production – if a hen is heat stressed, she will stop laying. Similarly, if she’s dehydrated, her body will shut down (you can learn how to make a DIY automatic chicken waterer for $12 here – these are a LIFESAVER in the summer!)

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Do Chickens Lay Eggs Every Day Naturally?

Hens will naturally lay eggs, but not necessarily one each day. Most chickens require about 12-14 hours of daylight each day to produce eggs, since egg laying is a hormonal response to sunlight. In addition, it can take about 24 hours for an egg to make it from the hen’s ovary,  through her oviduct and encased in calcium, to her vent, so it can be finally laid. There’s really no way to speed up this process – so it’s reasonable to expect your chickens to lay eggs every 24-26 hours. Most hens take a day or two off each week – and that’s completely natural.

How Many Eggs Does A Hen Lay In A Day? Do Chicken Lay Eggs Every Day?

Typically, one egg. Hens need 12-14 hours of daylight each day to produce eggs. So, a hen will lay 1 egg every day or every other day, as long as she gets 12-14 hours of light each day. In the winter, her production might decrease because the days are shorter.

So, How Many Eggs Per Week Does A Chicken Lay? The number of eggs per week a chicken lays depends largely on factors such as their breed, nutritional intake, and environmental conditions. Most chickens are known to lay 5 eggs a week or at least one every other day, for about 300 eggs per year.

Do Chickens Lay Eggs At The Same Time Every Day?

Even though most hens don’t lay every day, it’s certainly possible that a hen could lay eggs at the same time. However, most of the time, she won’t. Hens lay eggs every 24-26 hours – so she might lay her eggs in the morning one week, and in the evening another week. It’s a crapshoot! Ultimately, hens just follow their own rhythm, and lay when nature tells them to.

What Time Of Day Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

It seems like a lot of hens lay their eggs in the morning, but chickens lay eggs all throughout the day. In fact, you might see several hens fighting over the nesting box! They won’t lay their eggs at night though – they like to sleep and stay safe by roosting at night.

Is It Painful For Chickens To Lay Eggs?

There has been no clear evidence to support the claim that laying eggs hurt chickens. Of course, very large eggs laid by a very small hen might cause an issue such as egg binding or prolapsed vent, which is painful. But on average, it seems laying an egg isn’t the same as pushing out a baby every 24 hours. In fact, you’ll probably hear your hens singing “the egg song” after laying – it might just relieve them to finally pop out the egg!

Does A Chicken Need A Rooster To Lay An Egg?

No, a chicken doesn’t need a rooster to lay eggs – hens will produce their “butt nuggets” whether or not a rooster is present. This is because egg laying is a hormonal response to the amount of light – not whether she has a mate or not. If you want fertilized eggs so you can hatch chicks, then you’ll need a rooster. You can read about the best incubators we recommend here.

Is It Possible For A Chicken To Lay 2 Eggs A Day?

Yes, it is possible – if she lays “an egg within an egg.” This occurs when, for whatever reason, an egg that was released from the ovary doesn’t make it down the oviduct, and stays in her body for an additional length of time. Meanwhile, the ovary has released a second yolk, which is then also enveloped in calcium – along with the first egg. It’s important to remember, though, that this isn’t a typical thing – it’s really an abnormal egg.

How Long Does It Take For A Chicken To Push Out An Egg?

It usually takes 24 to 26 hours to fully form the egg and lay it.

How Many Eggs Do Chicken Lay A Year?

To determine how many eggs a chicken will lay in a year depends primarily on the breed, nutrition provided, and the overall management of the flock. Most egg laying breeds will lay about 300 eggs per year. Here’s a chart of the more popular breeds:

Breed Eggs per year (on average)
Silkie chickens 200-250 per year
Ameraucana chickens 250 – 280 per year
Barred Rock chickens Approx. 300 per year
Bantam chickens 250 – 280 per year
Black Sex Link chickens Approx. 300 per year
Rhode Island Red chickens Approx. 300 per year
Dominique chickens 250 – 280 per year
Leghorn chickens Approx. 300 per year

How Many Eggs Are In A Chicken? Are Hens Born With All Their Eggs?

A hen is born with all the egg yolks she’ll ever have (the yolks are what’s actually released from her ovary – hens have two ovaries, but only one is functional). The amount of actual yolks in her ovaries changes from chicken to chicken – they’re individuals after all. However, most hens lay consistently for the first 3 years of their lives. Since many breeds lay about 300 eggs a year, and they don’t start laying until they’re 6-8 months old, you can reasonably expect a hen to lay about 600-1,000 eggs during her lifetime.

Do Large Eggs Hurt Chickens?

Although most of the time it doesn’t hurt a chicken to lay an egg, it’s completely possible an overly large egg might hurt. The vent does stretch to accommodate laying, but an egg that’s a much larger size than normal would put extra strain on the hen. However, there’s nothing you can do to stop this – egg laying is natural, and sometimes, the eggs are larger than normal because that’s nature’s way.  

Do Male Chickens Lay Eggs?

No – just female chickens. The male chickens, called roosters, fertilize the eggs and protect the hens and provide companionship.

How Long Is The Egg Laying Process?

The egg laying process takes about 24 to 26 hours to produce and form the egg. The process – releasing the yolk from the ovary and encasing it with albumen (white egg parts) and the shell starts again 30 minutes after the chicken has laid an egg. You can read about all the parts of an egg here.

How Often Do Chickens Lay Double Yolk Eggs?

While double yolk eggs happen frequently and aren’t anything to worry about, there’s no telling when hens will lay eggs with two yolks. Some hens lay them consistently, and some hens will only do it once in their lives. You can read more about double yolk eggs here.

How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs In The Wild?

Just like domestic breeds, wild chickens lay eggs every 24-26 hours – but this depends on the season, her health, and her diet.

How Often Do Chickens Have To Mate To Lay Eggs?

Hens will lay eggs regardless of whether they mate with a rooster or not. If you want to hatch chicks, however, you will need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. You can read about how chickens mate right here.

What Do Chickens Do With Unfertilized Eggs?

If the hen is “broody,” meaning she wants to hatch eggs, she’ll sit on them even if they’re not fertile. If the hen isn’t broody, she’ll just leave the eggs in her nesting spot and go on with her day. Sometimes, hens will eat their own eggs, especially if their diet isn’t already sufficient, or if they’re bored.

How often do chickens lay eggs that are unfertilized? Well, that depends on whether they run with a rooster or not! If they’re cooped with a rooster, you can bet her eggs are consistently fertile. If there’s no rooster, then all her eggs will be unfertilized.