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Can a chicken lay 12 eggs a day?

Chickens are amazing egg-laying machines, but just how many eggs can a single chicken lay in a day? The short answer is no, it is highly unlikely for a chicken to lay 12 eggs in one day. However, the exact number of eggs a chicken can produce depends on several factors.

The chicken’s breed

The breed of the chicken plays a major role in determining egg production. Some breeds have been specially selected over generations for their high egg yields. Breeds known for high egg production include:

  • Leghorns – Around 280 eggs per year
  • Rhode Island Reds – Around 250 eggs per year
  • Australorps – Around 250 eggs per year
  • Orpingtons – Around 200 eggs per year

As you can see, even the highest producing chickens only average about 5-6 eggs per week. The world record for egg laying belongs to a hen named Harriet. She laid an astounding 371 eggs in 365 days back in 2004!

The chicken’s diet

Feeding chickens a high quality, protein-rich diet with calcium supplements supports maximum egg production. Access to fresh greens, vegetables, and insects provides essential vitamins and nutrients. Clean water is also vital.

Without proper nutrition, chickens will not lay as many (or any) eggs. Malnourished or sick chickens see a big drop in egg production.

The chicken’s environment

Stress negatively affects a chicken’s egg laying ability. Chickens need a clean coop, adequate space, proper ventilation and a comfortable nesting box. Access to the outdoors and an environment free of loud noises and predators is also important.

Chickens need 10-14 hours of daylight to stimulate egg production. Providing artificial light in winter will maintain their laying cycle year-round.

The chicken’s age

Younger chickens tend to lay more eggs daily than older chickens. Egg laying reaches its peak when chickens are around 2 years old. After age 2, egg production gradually declines as chickens get older.

Here’s a rough estimate of egg production by age:[1]

Age Eggs Per Day
4 months 4-5 eggs per week
6 months 1 egg per day
12 months 5-6 eggs per week
24 months 5-6 eggs per week
36+ months 3-4 eggs per week

As you can see, peak lay for most chickens is about 1 egg per day, with particularly productive breeds managing 5-6 per week at their prime.

When do chickens lay eggs?

The time of day chickens lay their eggs can also impact how many eggs they produce. Most chickens like to lay their eggs early in the day, usually between 6-8 am. Some chickens may lay again later in the day. But egg-laying requires a lot of energy, so chickens rarely lay more than 2 eggs in one day.

Collecting the eggs promptly each morning encourages chickens to lay again the next day. Allowing eggs to pile up in the nest for hours sends the signal that the nest is full, which can slow down egg production.

Double yolk eggs

Sometimes chickens lay extra large or double yolk eggs. These odd eggs occur randomly and do not increase the chicken’s total egg production. A double yolker simply takes the place of 2 normal eggs, so a chicken will lay fewer singles when ovulating doubles.[2]

Egg laying record holders

While 12 eggs in one day is highly improbable, a handful of superstar chickens have managed some incredible laying streaks:

  • The current world record holder is a hen named Harriet from Australia, who laid 371 eggs in 365 days – just 1 short of daily egg laying!
  • Hen #23 from Canada laid 358 eggs in 365 days back in 1979.
  • A red hen owned by J.C Clark of Scotland laid 364 eggs in 360 days.
  • Hen #8 owned by John Tetlow of the UK laid 347 eggs in 343 days.

These champion layers prove that under ideal conditions, laying an egg nearly every day for a year is biologically possible for certain outstanding hens. But these are rare feats far exceeding normal chicken egg production.

Why do chickens lay so many eggs?

The main reason chickens lay eggs almost daily is that, unlike mammals, hens don’t need to be pregnant to produce eggs. Female chickens start ovulating and laying eggs when they reach sexual maturity, around 16-20 weeks of age.[3]

Their egg laying is influenced by lighting cycles rather than reproductive cycles. Providing 14-16 hours of light per day keeps a chicken’s ovaries in constant production. Their bodies are genetically programmed to continually release mature eggs, whether they’ve mated with a rooster or not.


While a top-level superstar hen might lay up to 365 eggs annually, the average production for most backyard chickens is closer to 250-300 eggs per year. That equates to 5 or 6 eggs per week. Occasional weird double yolkers can bump the weekly total slightly higher.

For a chicken to lay a full dozen eggs in one day would be highly anomalous. The daily energy expenditure and nutrient requirements would be immense. However, chickens are impressive egg producers overall. With ideal genetics, nutrition, housing and care, modestly prolific layers can produce 6 eggs per week consistently for several years.