Chickens don't start laying eggs until they are 19 weeks old. They live 3-8 years if they are not in a factory. Those only will live about two years. It takes about 24-26 hours for a hen to lay an egg and as she gets older, the eggs get larger.
It takes approximately 21 days for an egg to hatch. This year we didn't want to rely on our hens brooding so we took a couple of eggs each day and put them in an incubator. Of course this means that we will have 2-3 chicks hatch each day. Once a chick is ready to hatch it takes about 24 hours for it to totally break through the shell and I didn't believe it until I patiently waited with the kids for those chicks to start hatching yesterday.
There are about 200 breeds of chickens and we probably have about 15. We decided to try different breeds to see how they would adapt to our Michigan Winters plus to see what kind of eggs they hatch along with the fact that they are much prettier to look at than the standard egg layers. Our decision has given us lots of pretty brown, green and blue eggs with very few white.
We should have another two chicks born today. They started poking through their shells yesterday and we can hear them chirping. It's a fun experience for our whole family. By the time these chicks, hoping they are female, start laying eggs our current egg layers will be at the end of their egg laying life...ah, the circle of life.
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