Why Are My Hens Laying Small Eggs?
In America, most of us have this idea in our heads that “bigger is better”. This notion seems to be particularly true when it comes to the size of our chickens and their eggs. Who remembers the 2017 viral internet video of the giant Brahma rooster that appeared to be 3 feet tall?
Sometimes we are a little disappointed when a hen lays a smaller than expected egg. There are a few reasons why that may be the case. First let’s define what we mean by small. According to USDA, a 12-count carton of peewee sized eggs is 15 ounces, and a carton of small eggs is 18 ounces. So for the purposes of this blog, we consider a small egg to be anything 1.5 ounces or smaller for a single egg.
It’s no secret that smaller breeds can be expected to lay smaller eggs. Any of the bantam-sized breeds will lay eggs that generally are in the peewee to small weight range. Some of the more ornamental of the standard-sized breeds tend to lay a smaller egg also, most notably the Polish and Sultan breeds.
A pullet is a female chick whose age is day-old to the day she lays her first egg. From the day she lays her first egg, she is then called a hen. But we call those first several eggs “pullet eggs” because they tend to be much smaller than what her typical egg size will be once her reproductive tract fully matures. It is exciting to see that first small pullet egg, and with each successive egg she lays, they gradually get a little larger in size. After about a month passes from the day she lays her first egg, her eggs going forward will be what you would expect for her breed.
Predators, weather extremes, not enough water or feed and disease or illness can all cause a hen to temporarily lay smaller than expected eggs. Until the stressor is corrected or eliminated, most hens will continue to lay small eggs or possibly no eggs at all.
Even though her breed stats may list that she should lay a large egg, not every hen reads her breed description and follows the rules! Just like us humans have an “average” height and ideal weight, we list a general flock average egg size to help you decide which breed to buy. But any individual hen may not lay an egg that consistently falls within that stated size. It’s disappointing, yes, and if it really bothers you that she lays a small egg when the stats say otherwise, it’s just Mother Nature showing us we aren’t in control.
We hope this bit of information is helpful for you when determining why your hen may be laying smaller than expected eggs. If you have experience in dealing with stress causing your hens to lay small eggs or stopped laying altogether, leave us a comment below and tell us how you helped your flock.
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