When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs? 6 Signs Eggs Are on the Way

If you’re waiting for chickens to start laying eggs, you may be wondering what to watch for so you can be ready for the harvest!

The truth is some chickens take longer than others to mature. So there is no right answer as to when your chickens will start laying. 

With that being said, here are some telltale signs that your hens are ready to start serving up breakfast for your family. 

1. It’s Been About Six Months

Chickens are sexually mature around 6 months of age. This means, their bodies are ready to start producing eggs! 

With that being said, there are a variety of factors that can influence the exact start of a hen’s egg-laying career, like: 

  • Environmental factors
  • Breed
  • Illness
  • Nutrition

As a rule of thumb, six months is a good timeframe to watch for fresh eggs, but your hens could start laying sooner, or a bit later, than that. 

2. Your Hens Start to Squat

It sounds a little silly but squatting when approached by a rooster, or other animals, is an indication that your hen has reached sexual maturity, and is ready to lay some fresh eggs. 

This is a behavior that assists the rooster in mating with the hen. Hens become submissive and squat down, allowing the rooster to do his thing. 

You can test this behavior by lightly pushing on the hens back to see if she becomes submissive. If so, eggs won’t be far behind!

3. Changes in Combs and Wattles

As hens develop, and near maturity (ie egg-laying season), you may notice that their combs and wattles turn from pinkish to a beautiful bright red!

Combs will also become larger as your hens grow. And, as a side note, a rooster’s accessories become bigger and more red as well but this usually happens much sooner.

4. Hens Begin to Eat More

As most critters do, hens eat a lot more as they grow and develop. But laying eggs requires more energy than simply spending time as a growing pullet. Hens gearing up to lay their first eggs need more protein, calcium, and other valuable nutrients in order to lay healthy, strong, eggs. 

With that being said, your hens will start eating more than they did before they were ready to lay eggs.

It can be difficult to determine how much a single hen is eating, but you may notice the feeder needing to be refilled more often than before. 

5. Hens May Become Nervous

A hen that’s about to start laying may go through a behavior change. In fact, she may appear more nervous and unsettled. She may even give you a start and pop out of strange nooks and crannies through the coop or barn. 

So be on the lookout, because it can be quite startling!

Hens that hide out, nervously search for….something, and hunker down in cozy crannies are often on the verge of laying their first eggs. 

6. They’ve Noticed the Nesting Boxes

In addition to nervously searching for their own special space to lay their eggs, hens close to maturity may seek out a nesting box that they’ve ignored for the past few months. 

Young hens may curiously hang out by older hens utilizing the nesting boxes. They’re learning from them, and even though they may be annoying to the experienced layer wishing for her privacy, these young pullets are picking up all kinds of tips and tricks. 

It All Depends on Your Hen

While the actual date a hen starts giving you eggs will vary, these are the signs that point to fresh eggs in the coop…soon!

So if your hens are happy and healthy, they’ll start laying as soon as their bodies are able to do so. A hen that lays early may develop internal problems, and her eggs may be rubbery or misshapen (which could potentially be painful). 

All this to say, your hen will know when she’s ready. And all you need to do is ensure she has the nutrition required to produce those tasty eggs. If you do, you’ll be rewarded handsomely, all in good time.

Henny+Roo is the first and foremost subscription box for backyard chicken keepers – sending boxes of treats, first aid and coop items, along with gifts for you since 2016. Learn about our monthly plans and non-subscription offerings at: hennyandroo.com

Inside the June 2021 Henny+Roo Box for Chicken Keepers

Summer is here, and we hope you and your flock are taking the time to enjoy the outdoors. We hope that your June selections help you enjoy every moment of good weather and times with your flock and family!

Free Range Rooster Camp Cup: A fun way to celebrate the 4th of July while showing off your passion for poultry.

Hentastic Peck ‘n Mix Herb Surprise: Thank your ladies for all those eggs!

Hydro Hen Drinking Water Supplement: Probiotics, electrolytes, and acidifiers to provide hydration and gut health when your birds need it most. For all species and ages of poultry. Makes 22 one-gal servings.

Rollerball Oil Perfume: Hay Bale is a fragrance exclusive to Henny+Roo featuring fresh notes of clover and aloe.

Chicken Layer Love Feed: Combining proper proportions of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, amino acids, and biologicals, these pellets and mealworms are lighted coated with secondary and trace elements that have been Ultra Chelated.

Aluminum Treat Scoop: For dishing out feed, treats, grit, etc.

Throwback Logo Sticker: We’re celebrating our 6th year in business with one of our first logos, by request of some of our longest-term subscribers!

Nesting Box Liner: In every box!

The June box is sold out, so sadly, we don’t have any for sale on our website at hennyandroo.com. The only way to make sure you get one of our monthly boxes, you have to be a subscriber. Join the first and foremost subscription service for backyard chicken keepers, and save 10% with code NEWSUB

!

Roosters With A Bad Rap (And Why You Might Want One)

Roosters get a bad reputation, but one bad egg in the bunch shouldn’t condemn an entire lot of roosters to the soup pot. 

Roos are often misunderstood because they can be aggressive. Certain individual birds (and some breeds) may be more prone to chasing humans, attacking other critters, and of course, crowing…a lot. 

But the truth is, they’re not all bad. In fact, much of their “aggressive” behavior is actually beneficial for the flock. Moreover, you’ll find that most roosters aren’t actually mean at all.

So, to set the record straight, let’s take a look at commonly frowned-upon rooster behavior and how it’s actually good for the flock. 

Mean Rooster Behavior and What it Means

It’s easy to just write off the following as bad behavior from a bad rooster. But let’s think it through a bit first.

Because, in most cases, there’s a reason for the behavior.

Crowing (Not Just in The Morning)

Roosters crow.

All the time. 

But there’s a reason for crowing, and usually, it’s to either communicate with the flock, warn off predators, or ask something of you. 

Roosters can assert themselves to both predators and other roosters and the point is to show whoever he’s talking to that he’s the boss around here…and these are his hens. 

Crowing can be a good thing if you don’t mind the sound of it because it may keep predators at bay, warn you of impending doom, and help the flock find food or safety (because that’s what roosters often talk about most). 

Roos are keen on finding the best treats for their ladies, and when they find a tasty morsel, he will be the last to eat. Instead, he clucks, crows, or calls to his ladies to let them know there are some good eats nearby!

Lastly, roosters crow if they need something. If your flock is confined and they are out of food or water, you better believe your rooster will let you know about it!

Roosters Chasing Humans

Roosters who chase humans or other animals usually do so to protect their hens.

Unfortunately, they may chase us even though we aren’t a threat. For some reason, some roosters are on higher alert than others and misdirect their aggression toward the wrong person. 

In the wild, roosters who chase off possible threats are a blessing to the flock. Just think about it, if we’re intimidated by a puffed-up rooster booking it toward us then their scare tactics might work on other, less well-meaning, beings as well. 

This behavior becomes a problem, however, when roosters act on their aggression by using their beak and spurs to injure humans or other domestic animals.

Fighting with Other Roosters

Speaking of harming other animals. Keeping more than one rooster in a flock is not always a good idea. 

It can be done, with the right roosters (who were also raised together). And if there are enough hens to go around for both of the boys in the flock, it might be feasible.

But even then, one day, you may find your two favorite gentlemen in a bloody battle for the flock. 

And that’s how things work in the natural world. One rooster is typically dominant over all the hens in the flock, and if the other boys nearby disagree it will most likely end in death. 

Considering natural selection, when referring to this aggressive bird-on-bird behavior, you could think of the winning rooster as the strongest to lead your flock. In that case, choose which roo you’d like to keep on for the job and which you will relocate or process.

Favorite Hens Looking Shabby?

Sometimes a certain hen becomes the apple of your rooster’s eye, and she gets, ahem, most of his attention (wink, wink…elbow jab, if you know what I mean).

And you might think it’s a good thing, but that poor hen needs a break and if your rooster doesn’t lay off of the hen in question, you may need to relocate her. 

Another reason your hens may look a little rough around the feathers is that there aren’t enough hens for your overly zealous rooster in your flock.

Adding a few more (like you need a reason to add more chickens, right?) will help distribute your rooster’s, um, affections amongst the flock more evenly and help his favorites heal.

As a side note: if your hens’ feathers have been ripped out from a well-meaning rooster, they will grow back after their next molt.

Should you need to protect your hen’s backs, consider a hen saddle.

Should You Keep a Rooster?

So, while there are some clear drawbacks to keeping a rooster in your flock, as you can see, some of these behaviors serve a purpose. And in some cases, it’s for the good of the flock. Like protection from predators, foraging skills, and of course reproduction. 

The truth is, most roosters, if they have what they need to be happy and healthy, aren’t all that bad. 

In fact, your years of rooster owning, you may only come across one or two bad eggs. 

And to be honest, the crowing may become an enjoyable part of my homestead. 

Rooster Relocation

All this to say, sometimes we can’t accommodate our rooster’s needs or they really are just a bad egg. 

If that’s the case, it may be time to either process your rooster or pass him on to a farm that is willing to take on his behavior. And who knows, a change of scenery might be all he needs to turn his life around.

Books of Interest

Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics: Lessons for Expanding Your Flock, Understanding Chicken Behavior, Keeping a Rooster, Adjusting for the Seasons, Staying Healthy, and More!

Pokey Jr: Even Roosters Get Second Chances

How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say