It takes about 24 hours for a hen to produce an egg and a variety of various reasons can slow or interrupt the egg-laying process. Chickens don’t lay an egg every day of the year, the average is about 260 eggs per year for a hen. Egg-laying is seasonal and regulated by sunshine and daylight hours, this means chickens are more productive in spring and summer with longer days generally leading to more eggs. In autumn and winter laying dwindles but, in an attempt to counter this, some chicken keepers put daylight bulbs on a timer in their hen houses to stimulate continued laying.
Brown shaver hens are considered by many to be the ultimate ‘egg pump’ laying up to 340 eggs per year.
Eggs from a flock of chickens that includes a rooster can be eaten without concern as long as they are collected fresh-laid without having been sat on by a broody hen for more than a few days. It takes about three weeks for a fertilised egg to hatch when it is incubated by a hen.
Chicken poo is high in nitrogen and also contains potassium and phosphorus. In its raw state, straight from the hen house, chicken poo is called a ‘hot’ manure, its high nitrogen content can burn plant roots. To avoid damaging plants, add it to your compost heap where it can be converted into a more balanced and plant-friendly compost over time. Alternatively you can compost chicken poo on its own – as long as it is combined with bedding material such as straw, untreated wood shavings or sawdust. Add it to a bin and keep moist, within about 6 months you should have garden-ready compost.