Contents: How Often Do Wild Chickens Lay Eggs?
Do Wild Chickens Lay Eggs Every Day?
Chickens living in the wild, called junglefowl, are amazing egg-laying birds.
Of the 4 types of undomesticated junglefowl, the wild red junglefowl (native to South Asia) is the main ancestor of the domestic chicken.
The breeding season of the wild red junglefowl is spring and summer. During this time, the hen can lay an egg almost every day (approximately every 24 to 26 hours). (Resource: Red Junglefowl, University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology)
How Many Eggs Do Chickens Lay a Day in the Wild?
It’s estimated that wild red junglefowl will only produce somewhere between 10 to 15 eggs per year/breeding season, depending on broodiness*, weather, food availability, stress, and other factors.
* Broodiness is when a bird constantly sits on a clutch of eggs to incubate them, which often stops them from doing other behaviors such as eating, drinking, and laying eggs.
If you try to remove the eggs from under a broody hen, be prepared for some feather fluffing, clucking, and aggressive pecking.
Red junglefowl will only lay a few clutches during spring and summer. A clutch of eggs is the total number of eggs laid in one nesting attempt, and when the hen gets broody. You’ll normally find 3 to 7 eggs in a clutch.
It usually takes 21 days for the chick to fully develop inside the egg, and for hatching to begin.
Where Do Chickens Lay Eggs in the Wild?
In the wild, chickens usually lay eggs in a simple nest on the ground, in the forest. They either build the nest themselves or they use an old nest that other animals built (other birds, squirrels, etc).
What Happens After Wild Chickens Lay Their Eggs?
After a wild hen lays her eggs, she’ll become extremely broody. This is a little bit different from chickens because only certain breeds of chickens have been known to get very broody (like my silkies).
For twenty-one days, the red junglefowl chick will develop inside of its egg. On the 21st day, the chick will start to break through the egg’s thin shell.
The hen will only spend about 12 weeks caring for her chicks and then she chases them off to survive on their own. This is a bit different from domesticated chickens because the latter tend to love spending time with her chicks and other chickens. Red junglefowl are more indpendent.
Do Wild Chickens Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Yes. It’s possible for a wild hen to lay unfertilized eggs if she hasn’t mated with a rooster during the breeding season. However, not finding a rooster to mate with (or mating with a rooster that is sterile) is rare.
Why Do Domesticated Chickens Lay More Eggs Than Wild Chickens?
The red junglefowl was first domesticated at least 5000 years ago in South Asia. Its domestic form, which are the chickens we all know today, are now owned by people all over the world.
But evolution did not create chickens that are so meaty or lay so many unfertilized eggs naturally. Human engineering, or more specifically selective breeding, created those types of chickens. All it takes is for a farmer to choose the chickens with the desired trait and use those chickens as parents for the next generation.
For example, a farmer could choose only the chickens that had desirable egg-laying capabilities to breed. Or he could choose only the heftier, meatier chickens to reproduce.
After many generations of selective breeding, today’s domesticated chickens have more and more of the desired traits; meatier chickens or super egg-laying hens. And that’s why some domesticated chickens can lay 300+ eggs a year!