When reading a Wikipedia article to do with chickens, I have come across the term "clutch", but I was not able to entirely figure out what this word means. I was wondering whether the term clutch can be used to refer to any set of eggs by birds, reptiles, and amphibians, or whether a clutch must consist of a set eggs all by the same bird, reptile, or amphibian. In general, if a typical clutch by a well fed chicken amounts to a dozen of eggs, that seems like a lot of eggs for a chicken to hold within its body prior to laying them, hence my question about clarification and about what number would actually fit (I have seen as high as fifteen). It is this simply the number of eggs expected to live concurrently in a typical nest where more than one chicken would breed?


2 Answers 2


A clutch usually refers to all the eggs for a single reproductive event or laying or location. It can mean either all those laid by one organisms in one event or all those laid in a population in a single time and place. Which is usually clear in context.

Even just for an individual it is a bit vague however and can refer to one laying or multiple layings if they happen close together in time.

There is also a usage difference by specialization, agricultural scientists tend to favor a boarder usage for instance.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answers. Could you please indicate what other areas of specialization that make use of such a term "clutch" exist besides agricultural science? Thanks. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2018 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Could you please also identify the typical and maximum number of eggs which may sit in a chicken's body? Thanks. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2018 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ chickens lay around one egg a day, so there clutches are built incrementally, average clutch size is around 12 eggs. rarely does more than one fully developed egg sit in a chickens body, the key term is fully developed. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 1, 2018 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ As for other usages, everything from paleontology to ethology. basically any branch of zoology could be dealing with eggs $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 1, 2018 at 15:19

Well, strictly speaking from an etymological viewpoint, a clutch is:

"a brood, the number of eggs incubated at any one time," in reference to chickens, 1721, a southern England dialectal variant of cletch (1690s), noun from cleck (v.), which is from Middle English clekken "to hatch, give birth to" (c. 1400), which is probably from a Scandinavian source (such as Old Norse klekja "to hatch"), perhaps of imitative origin (compare cluck (v.)). Compare batch/bake.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .