As a new chicken owner you may be wondering how long it will be until you have your first batch of baby chicks. Laying a healthy clutch of eggs is essential for producing a lively batch of cute, fluffy offspring. The number of eggs in the clutch is a good indicator of the number of chicks who will be hatched, assuming the eggs and the chicks they contain are healthy.
Your average healthy laying hen produces one egg roughly every 24 to 27 hours. The eggs of laying hens are normally collected on a daily basis because eggs are best preserved for human consumption when they are refrigerated soon after being produced. If you do not collect your chicken's eggs then she will collect a group of eggs in the nest over a period of several weeks. This collection of eggs is called a clutch. The average chicken clutch contains approximately 12 eggs.
Chickens and Eggs
Chickens begin to lay eggs when they are approximately 5 months old and will continue to lay eggs for several years. Laying hens typically produce between 200 and 300 eggs per year. Chickens will lay eggs regardless of whether or not they have been fertilized. Your chicken's eggs will not be fertilized if she has not been exposed to a rooster. Laying a fertilized clutch is the first step in producing chicks but your chickens may decide to try to keep and sit on a clutch of eggs even if the eggs are not fertilized.
When your chicken is forming a clutch she will continue to lay eggs until she has a full clutch. She will then sit on the growing clutch to incubate the eggs until she has produced a full clutch. It takes your chicken approximately 21 days to incubate the eggs and then they will begin to hatch. Not all eggs will turn into viable, healthy chicks. Some batches of eggs will produce all live chicks, but others may only produce a couple of live chicks or no chicks at all.
It is your chicken's natural instinct to collect and hatch clutches of eggs. Chickens do not naturally produce eggs for human consumption, and it's normal for your chicken to want to form a clutch in her nesting area. With that said, it's not considered healthy for your hen to sit on an unfertilized clutch; she may become moody and aggressive while caring for the eggs. It's important to remove unfertilized eggs from your chicken's nest every day to avoid her creating and caring for a clutch of unfertilized eggs.
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.