Most chickens lay their eggs in the first few hours of daylight. But it makes you wonder… Could they lay eggs at any time of the day? Exactly what time of day do most chickens lay eggs? Does the weather impact egg laying? I’ve certainly found some of my hens laying rogue eggs at odd times of the day (and odd places!).
Let’s explore elements that affect the timing of egg laying and what homesteaders need to know to keep their egg baskets full.
- Timing of Egg Laying: Most chickens lay their eggs within the first six hours of daylight, typically before noon. If you’re not finding eggs by lunchtime, your chickens might be on a winter break due to less daylight and colder temperatures.
- Winter Laying: Chickens need about 14 hours of daylight to maintain regular egg production, which is not naturally available in winter. You can use artificial lighting to extend daylight hours in the coop, encouraging hens to continue laying.
- Feeding and Comfort: During winter, chickens expend more energy to stay warm, which can impact egg production. Providing extra food and a warm, safe environment can help. However, even with these measures, winter egg yields may be lower than in summer.
- Egg Collection: It’s best to collect eggs at least once a day to prevent damage or theft by predators. Some keepers find collecting eggs twice a day in winter helps prevent them from freezing.
- Laying Cycle: Chickens generally operate on a 26 to 28-hour cycle, meaning they won’t lay at the exact same time each day. Most won’t lay after 3 PM.
What Time of Day Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
Most chickens lay eggs within the first six hours of daylight. If the sun is rising at seven AM, that means you should be able to collect the day’s bounty by lunchtime. If there are no eggs by then, chances are your chickens are taking a winter break. With the chilly and windy weather this year – we can’t blame them!
Shedding Light on a Chicken’s Laying Cycle
Most chicken breeds need 14 hours of sunlight daily to elicit the hormonal response needed to produce eggs. In winter depths, most of the northern hemisphere is restricted to around nine hours of sun – which isn’t enough.
Most chickens will take a month or two off egg-laying as the winter approaches, giving their bodies time to adapt and rest. Chickens also burn more energy keeping warm in the winter months, leaving them with less energy to put into the egg production process.
Some backyard chicken owners get around this problem by using artificial lighting in the coop to trick their hens into thinking it’s summer. Artificial lighting isn’t always enough, however. Hens need warmth and safety, as well as light if they’re going to be comfortable enough to lay an egg.
Giving your hens a warm, safe enclosure to do the deed will also help boost their productivity, but you’re still unlikely to get similar yields in winter as you do in summer. In the winter, hens burn calories to stay warm! Therefore, the hens need more food than in summer, especially if you want them to be productive.
Not only do the summer months bring some much-needed sunlight, but it’s also a period when there’s plenty of food, especially protein-filled grubs and insects, to help stimulate egg production.
The Best Time of Day to Collect Eggs
The earlier, the better. But – you should find a routine that works for your homestead. We always collect our eggs at the same time of day. At 4 p.m., our chickens come in for the night, and I collect whatever eggs they’ve produced during the day. We embarked on this routine because we believed leaving the eggs in situ would inspire our more reluctant fowls to become more productive.
I’ve now learned that leaving the eggs in the nesting boxes for that long could cause more problems than it solves. Eggs left in the nesting box all day can become damaged or soiled. A broody hen may also become defensive if she’s allowed to sit on her egg all day. The eggs could even freeze if left outdoors for too long during winter!
For the best results, you should collect eggs at least once a day, preferably using an egg-collecting apron to make the experience a bit more straightforward – and stylish!
Most chicken owners recommend collecting in the mornings, although some suggest harvesting twice a day – once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It might be worth increasing the frequency of your egg collection in winter to guard against possible freezing.
How to Encourage Your Hens to Lay During Winter
I don’t mind giving my hens a couple of months off over the winter. They’re so productive during the summer months! I feel they’ve earned a break when winter comes around.
If you want your chickens to keep laying all-year-round, however, you can:
- Use artificial lighting – add a solar lighting system to your chicken coop and give your hens the 14 hours of daylight they need to stay productive all year round.
- Increase their feed – chickens need the energy to stay warm and to produce eggs and therefore need more nutrition in winter than summer.
- Keep them warm! The warmer the chicken, the more eggs she will lay. Find out how to keep your chickens warm in winter and boost your egg production simultaneously.
- Make sure your hens have clean bedding! The bigger and fluffier the better. Thick and fuzzy hay nests can also help keep your hens warm and comfy.
Also – make sure to check that your chickens have plenty of water during the cold weather. Sometimes, the chicken’s water source might freeze in the winter. Make sure they have plenty of fresh (and unfrozen) water to drink! You can find water heaters on Amazon if you find that your chicken’s water continually freezes.
Read More – 115 Funny and Cute Chicken and Hen Names!
Chicken Egg Laying Timing FAQs
We know that timing the egg-laying of your chickens is trickier than non-homesteaders realize! That’s why we put together the most vital tips for timing your hen’s egg-laying correctly.
We hope these questions and answers help!
Most hens lay their eggs in the morning! Although, you may find one or two hens get started later in the day. Chickens are diurnal creatures, though. So, they won’t produce any eggs or even ovulate during the night, even if they do spend most of it tucked up in a cozy nesting box.
For a chicken to lay an egg at the same time every day, she’d need to be operating on a 24-hour laying cycle. Most hens, however, work on a 26 or 28-hour laying cycle. A hen that lays at six am one morning will lay at eight am or even ten am the next. Very few chickens lay eggs later than three pm, but you might get a renegade chicken who likes to push the boundaries.
Chickens seem to be at their most productive in the mornings. Most chickens lay their eggs during the first 6 hours of daylight. There may be one or two hens who lay later in the day, but it’s relatively uncommon. But – we recommend monitoring your chicken coop for eggs throughout the day anyway!
Yes! Check your coop for eggs multiple times per day. The more you let your chicken eggs idle about – the easier it is for something bad to happen to them. They can get scratched, cracked, damaged, or stolen by predators. That’s another reason we recommend that you scan for eggs in your coop frequently. Rats, mice, snakes, and other scoundrels want to eat the eggs!
In some cases, leaving one egg in each layer box can help chickens become more productive. We’ve found this is the case in particular with new layers, or point-of-lay hens. Having an ‘example’ egg shows them where to lay, and seems to encourage them to follow suit.
In general, most chickens lay their eggs within the first 6 hours of daylight. This means that by lunchtime, you should be able to collect all the eggs from your coop. However, it is possible for a chicken to lay at any time of the day, especially if you have artificial lighting set up.
Although a chicken’s egg production often drops off during winter, she’ll still lay her eggs at roughly the same time every day.
Most chickens take an early-bird approach to egg production and get it out of the way within the first six hours of daylight, but there are always one or two rule-breakers around that will wait until the afternoon.
We would also love to hear your experience about what time your hens lay their eggs. (Other poultry too!)
Do your hens ever lay eggs alter in the afternoon? Or are they early-morning layers?
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!