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
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.