If you’re a new chicken keeper who is raising your flock from chicks hatched this spring, you’re likely anxiously awaiting your first egg! While pullets (female chickens under one-year) reach point-of-lay at different times based on breed, size, and even weather, there are a few signs you can look for to determine if your chickens are getting ready to lay their first eggs.
Age. Most pullets will begin laying between 16 and 24 weeks of age, depending on breed. Once a pullet has produced her first egg, expect that she will lay almost daily, with frequency again being determined by breed.
Squatting. Pullets reaching sexual maturity will squat when you reach to pet them or pick them up. This is a sure sign that the bird will lay her first egg in the next week or two.
Red Combs and Wattles. Your pullets will develop deeper red combs and wattles as they take on a more mature, full-grown appearance and point-of-lay
Time Spent in Coop. As your pullets get closer to laying their first egg, you might find them scratching around in the nesting box and desiring more privacy. Be sure to keep their nesting box bedding fresh and dry by replacing often. You can encourage pullets to lay in the nesting box by placing the imitation eggs in this month’s Henny & Roo box in the nesting box. Remove the imitation eggs when your flock starts laying real ones. It’s very difficult to break a pullet’s habit of laying outside the nesting box, so start them off right by showing them where they should lay.
If your pullet is spending days in the nesting box and appears to be straining without laying an egg, she may be egg-bound and you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
Vocalizations. You’ll think your pullet is announcing to the world that her egg is coming when you hear her new (often loud) sounds in the nesting box! Or, your pullet may be standing near the nesting box squawking loudly – that’s often because there in another chicken sitting where she wants to lay her egg. Some hens do discover their voices when they are ready to lay. It’s yet another sign eggs are coming soon.
Keep an eye on your pullets for these signs that eggs and near, then get ready for the big surprise and sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you look into the nesting box and see that first egg. Ask any experienced chicken keeper and they’ll tell you, collecting those eggs never gets old. Now, the only question is, how will you cook that first egg?
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