How Many Chickens Do You Need for Eggs? (A Look at How Many Hens Are Needed for a Dozen Eggs per Week)

How Many Chickens Do I Need for a Dozen Eggs a Week?

There is no definitive answer to this question as egg production can vary greatly depending on the breed of chicken and the environment in which they are raised.

Generally, you can expect each hen to lay about one egg per day. A general rule of thumb is that you will need 2 hens for every dozen eggs you want to produce each week.

So, if you want to produce 24 eggs per week, you will need 4 hens.

Of course, there are always exceptions (more on that below). Some hens may lay less than one egg per day. And sometimes a hen will take a break from laying altogether. But it’s a good starting point for those interested in raising chickens for egg production.

So it’s always good to have a few extra backyard chickens on hand, just in case.

Factors That Affect How Many Eggs Chickens Will Lay a Week

On average, 2 hens will lay about 6 eggs a week. However, this number can vary depending on the breed of chicken and the time of year. Some hens may lay more or less than 6 eggs a week.

Here are a few factors that influence how many eggs chickens will lay a week:

Age

As hens age, they lay fewer and smaller eggs.

Hens typically start laying eggs when they’re between 5 and 6 months old, depending on their breed. The number of eggs they lay will usually peak in their first 2 years. Then, egg production declines gradually until they’re about 5 years old. (However, I once had a hen lay irregularly until she was about 10 years old).

This is why many commercial operations will not keep a bird in production for longer than 2 to 3 years, due to the declining egg quality and quantity.

Breed

Some chicken breeds are best for meat, some for eggs, some for both meat and eggs, and some chickens are bred to make great pets.

If you want chickens with the best egg production, then you definitely want to check my list of the best egg-laying breeds:

Breed Eggs/Year Size
Isa Brown300Large
Lohmann Brown320Large
Golden Comet250-300Large
to Extra Large
Rhode Island Red250Large
to Extra Large
Leghorn250-280Medium
to Large
Sussex250Large
Australorp250Large
Ameraucana250Medium
Plymouth Rock200Large
Ancona200Large
Buff Orpington180-280Large
Barnevelder200Large
Marans180-220
Large
Hamburg150-200Small
to Medium

Keep in mind that some breeds do better than others in cold weather or hot summers. And some chickens are more social and better with kids, while others are more of an anti-social type. So make sure to research the type of breed you’re thinking about getting before you bring chicks home.

For a more detailed list of my favorite egg-laying hens (which includes summaries of their lifespan, personality, egg color, and much more) check out my post: 14 Best Egg-Laying Chickens

Diet

A hen’s well-balanced diet has a significant impact on her ability to lay quality eggs regularly.

A lack of protein can result in fewer and smaller eggs being laid. So a high-quality layer feed (Amazon) with a minimum of 16% protein in a bird’s diet is essential for normal egg production.

In addition to protein, hens need other essential nutrients like phosphorus and vitamin D, which should all be provided from their layer feed.

However, it’s always a good idea to supplement a laying hen’s diet with oyster shells (Amazon) for extra calcium, and grit (Amazon) which is necessary for proper digestion.

Weather

Another thing you want to keep in mind is that egg production will slow down, and sometimes completely stop, during the winter. And egg production also dramatically drops in the fall.

shorter daylight time = less eggs

Then, in spring when the warmer weather starts and the days start getting longer, hens will start laying regularly again.

So, you might decide that you want to get an extra hen or two to compensate for the lack of egg production in the colder months. You can keep eggs in the fridge for 2 to 3 months or you can freeze them outside of their shell.

Is It Cheaper To Buy Eggs or Raise Chickens?

If you are thinking about keeping chickens, there are several things to consider.

The upfront costs can be significant, but the long-term costs are relatively low. The biggest expense is the cost of the chicken coop (Amazon), although you can always build a coop to save a lot of money.

How I Built My Chicken Coops & Runs

I know close to nothing about building anything. However, I’ve successfully built all of my chicken coops myself by using the Easy Coops’ chicken coop plans.

The coops might not be the most beautiful coops, and might look too minimalist for some, but they’re made to keep your chickens safe from predators, harsh hot and cold weather, and common airborne illnesses. A well-built coop reduces your hens’ stress, which will ultimately increase egg-production.

You will also need to buy food, bedding, and other poultry supplies (Amazon Best Sellers). However, once you have these initial expenses, the only ongoing costs are chicken feed and maybe an occasional vet bill.

The cost of buying eggs depends on where you live and what type of eggs you want to buy. However, even if you buy the most expensive store-bought eggs, they’ll probably still be cheaper than raising your own chickens. (Mind you, organic, free-range eggs are more expensive than conventional eggs.)

So, why would anyone want to raise chickens if it’s cheaper to just buy eggs at the store?

For one thing, store-bought eggs can’t compare to the taste of fresh, backyard eggs. They’re richer and more flavorful, and many people say they’re easier to digest.

Plus, chickens that are raised on a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, bugs, and quality chicken feed lay eggs that are nutrient-rich and beautiful in color.

Another reason to raise chickens is for the companionship they provide. If you live on a property with enough space for a small chicken coop and yard, chickens can make great pets. They’re social creatures that enjoy human interaction, and many people find them fun and entertaining to watch.

Being Self-Sufficient

Raising chickens is great because you become a little more self-sufficient and the work is truly rewarding.

However, being 100% self-sufficient on your own land might not be for everyone. It’s a lot of learning, planning, hard work, and patience to get yourself set up.

But this sweet, down-to-earth couple have done just that. They’ve been self-sufficient on their little 1/4 acre land for over 40 years! And, now they’re showing other people how they save and make money by being self-sufficient in things like food, heating, and electricity.

You should definitely check them out because you might get ideas on how to save or make money from your own backyard!

Conclusion: How Many Chickens Do I Need for Fresh Eggs?

The number of chickens you need for eggs depends on several factors, including your climate, the type of chicken, and your desired output.

For example, if you live in a warm climate, at least 2 or 3 chickens will be needed for a dozen eggs a week. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need more chickens to make up for the shorter laying season.

Obviously, more chickens will give you more eggs, but they will also require more space and more work.

If this is your first time raising backyard chickens, I recommend you start with a small flock (around 3 and 4 hens) for about a dozen eggs a week.

From there, you can make a more informed plan on how many chickens your family will need the following year.

Just keep in mind that chickens are social birds. They don’t do well if they’re alone, so you want at least 2 chickens together at all times. Three chickens work best, because if one dies then they’ll still have a companion.