How Many Eggs Does a Chicken Lay in Its Lifetime?

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Q. How many eggs does a chicken lay in its lifetime?

How Many Eggs Does a Chicken Lay in Its Lifetime?

A. A laying hen’s lifetime productivity depends on many factors, including breed, feed, environment and life span, but rough estimates for the first two or three years of laying, when a hen is most highly productive, suggest figures in the high hundreds.

One authoritative survey, issued regularly by the Department of Agriculture based on commercial operations, puts the most recent United States figure at 276 eggs a year.

Poultry hens on small farms in Australia can be expected to yield four to five eggs a week, or 200 a year, by one estimate, while Canadian battery hens are estimated by the Canadian branch of the Humane Society International to lay eggs on seven out of eight days, for a total of about 320 a year.

Commercial flocks are often culled when hens stop laying or taper off sharply. This may be as soon as the end of the first year.

Backyard chickens are another matter. In 2013, a cosseted British hen, Victoria, thought to be the oldest in the country, squeezed out two last eggs at the remarkable age of 17.

Two American “long-distance layers,” as they were called, became celebrities in poultry circles in the early years of the 20th century for continuing to lay eggs in old age. Cornell Endurance died at age 12, having laid 1,232 eggs. Cecilia, who was merely 10, was closing in on her record, The Farm Journal reported in 1922.

At the time, the normal maximum was believed to be 600 eggs, but selective breeding has since raised the limit. All the eggs a hen will ever lay are present in undeveloped form in the body from the start.
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