Broiler chickens grow rapidly, reaching full growth by the time they're 8 to 12 weeks old. The chickens are a hybrid breed known as a Cornish cross, which mature with larger than normal breasts and legs. If you don't watch their weight, chickens may grow too heavy to stand on their legs and have difficulty reproducing. Egg production decreases with obesity, but even at optimal weights, broilers lay eggs far less frequently than other breeds.
Chicken breeds raised for their eggs lay about 250 eggs per year. They begin laying at 5 to 6 months old when the days lengthen in the springtime and stop when days grow short in winter. Broiler chickens lay fewer eggs than other breeds, usually about 140 per year. The heavy hens are awkward and often break eggs when getting up off the nest.
If you want to produce the next generation of chicks, you'll need to keep your broilers on a strict diet to prevent obesity, which makes it difficult for the rooster to fertilize the hen's eggs. If eggs for your table is what you're after, consider slower-growing heavy breeds such as Orpingtons, Wyandottes or Rhode Island Reds. Although they'll take a few weeks more to raise to full size, you'll benefit with an increase in egg production of more than 100 per bird over the course of just one laying season.
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.