When Will My Chickens Start Laying? And Other Chicken-Laying Questions


Many people have adopted those cute little chicks around this time of the year in hopes of cooking up farm-fresh eggs soon.  As the chicks quickly go from cute fuzz balls to gangly teens, the question begins to arise.  When in the world will I get my first egg?

Chickens typically begin laying between 20 and 23 weeks of age.  Their first eggs will likely be small and produced every few days but by the time the chickens are 30 weeks of age they should lay a regular sized egg and regularly {1 egg every 26 hours}.


 
The first year a chicken lays you can expect a full production - about 20 dozen eggs.  Depending on when the chicken was hatched, molting will take place in the Fall {unless they were hatched mid-summer}, which will slow production considerably, and then Winter will slow the rate of egg-laying or quite possibly end it for a month or two. 
 
Once there is more sunlight egg production will pick back up again.
 


Chickens lay well for the first 2 years.  After year 2 you will notice a decrease in the frequentness of eggs.  Although it's possible for hens to lay their full life, you won't be able to count on regular eggs past year two.  For this reason I suggest people stagger the purchase of their flock.

If you want to have 6 chickens, for instance, I suggest purchasing 3 hens year one and then adding 3 hens in year three.  This way you'll have a constant flow of eggs.

If this is your first year raising chickens, you'll soon be asking yourself what took you so long!  They are a lot of fun to watch, relatively easy to care for, love attention, and produce the best eggs you'll have ever tasted.



Here are a few additional egg laying questions I've received:

It's the middle of summer and my hens production have decreased considerably.  Why?
Chickens decrease egg laying during their Fall molt and the winter months but they may also decrease production because of stress or illness.  Did you recently add new chickens to the coop?  Has it been hot and humid for a long stretch?  Do you notice any signs of upper respiratory illness or bugs such as mites or lice?  All of these reasons may slow or halt production.

I've seen packages of oyster shell for sale.  Should I add this to the feed?
For laying hens, calcium is an important nutrient.  If you are feeding strictly a layer feed they will probably not need additional calcium.  If, however, you have a layer feed available but your chickens are free-range, it may be a good idea to have oyster shell available as an option if they desire.  Don't add it to the feed - it will be tossed aside from the hens as they eat, instead offer it in a separate feeder or dish.

My pullets keep laying eggs on the floor.  Why won't they use the nesting boxes?
We had this same issue with our very first flock.  Since then, the new hens see what the older girls are doing and seem to understand.  The way we overcame the problem was by simply putting a golf ball in each nesting box.  The girls would get in, check out the ball, roll it around, and then eventually sit on it.  The next thing we knew, the eggs were being laid exactly where they should be.


4 comments:

lifeatcoralcottage.com said...

Staci - Thank you for posting all the 411 on chickens. I still don't have any, but keep dreaming of some day. Your information is helpful, easy to understand. Cluck, cluck. xo Kim

Our Neck of the Woods said...

You answered all these questions very well! They do seem to be the most common among newer chicken keepers. I am always amazed when they start to lay again when the days get longer. In the winter we'd get 3-4 eggs per day from 16 hens, now we're getting around a dozen a day!

Barbara said...

What an interesting blog post about the hens! I am reminded of a Bible verse, Titus 2:3-5 where we are told the older women are to teach the younger women… Apparently this applies to hens as well!

I have come across your delightful (and informative!) blog from my copy of Artful Blogging, Winter 2014 issue. You have a beautiful and inspiring blog!

daisy g said...

You are such a chicken expert! Once we get hens, I'm sure I'll be asking lots of questions.