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How to Get Started With Backyard Chickens

Chickens 101: Your family guide to keeping hens

Becca Hedlund

Published on: May 11, 2020

How to Get Started With Backyard Chickens

egg laying

Egg laying 101

What's all the fuss?

At around 20 weeks of age, your young ladies will begin laying their first eggs. Hurrah! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for!  Egg-laying is often accompanied by a lot of fuss and squawking coming from the coop. This is normal.

Eggs will easily last at least two or three weeks in the refrigerator. (Eggs sold in supermarkets can legally be sold up to 100 days old.) Pencil the date on each egg before you put it in the ‘fridge so you know how old it is. 

Should you wash the eggs?

Eggs, when laid, have a protective coating that resists bacteria. Brush off any dirt, but avoid washing the eggs unless necessary. Once washed, they should be used promptly.

How many eggs does a hen lay? Technically, about one every 30 hours. Realistically, that means an egg every day or two, per hen. The first winter they may keep laying through the winter, but otherwise, they tend to take the winter off unless you outfit their coop with extra lighting and heat during the winter months. Chickens are most productive during their first couple of years; egg-laying declines after that. Time of year, age, health, temperature, breed and other factors affect also productivity.

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