Do you have young chickens at home, eagerly waiting for those fresh eggs and wondering how long till chickens lay eggs?
Well, we have some good news! In this article, we will talk about it all – how to raise chicken and signs to look out for when they are about to lay eggs.
As we look at chickens generally, it is best to remember that chickens are different, and you cannot rush them to grow. The best thing is to be patient and enjoy your brood during each day.
How Long Before Chickens Lay Eggs
Chickens can start laying eggs as early as 16 weeks old. However, on average, young female chickens egg laying starts at 18 to 24 weeks, but they can take up to 8 months.
Some chickens may start laying eggs early from 16 weeks onward, while others take 28 to 32 weeks. If you have reared chicken for a good amount of time, you will note there are some early overachievers along with a fair share of late bloomers.
Chickens will start laying eggs mostly at 6 months old, but it solely depends on the breed. Breeds like Leghorns, Australorps, and Golden Comets will start laying in about 16-18 weeks.
Larger and heavier breeds like Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and Orpingtons will start laying from 6 to 8 months.
However, if your chicken comes into maturity in the fall or winter, it might not begin laying until spring.
Signs That Show Your Chicken Is Ready To Start Laying Eggs Soon
Enlarged Red Combs And Wattles
As a chicken matures, its combs grow increasingly large. If this happens as early as under 8 weeks, it might signify that the chicken is a young rooster!
Young female chickens develop their combs and wattles more slowly than the roosters. As her hormones shift, she starts to get ready for egg-laying. Her face, combs and wattles change from light pink to a brighter red in colour. Her comb and wattles also swell and grow larger.
She Starts To Explore The Nesting Area
As the changes happen in her body, she explores the nesting area days/weeks leading up to the first egg. She starts to show more interest in the area you have prepared for laying than ever before. She may sit inside as a way to test its comfort, even if she is not yet ready.
One great way to encourage her at this point is to provide a comfortable nesting area. You can also add false eggs inside the nesting box to encourage laying at that exact spot.
Chickens tend to love laying eggs in a clutch where other eggs are. You can use fake wood eggs or even golf balls.
She Can Start Getting Louder
Young female chickens that were once quiet will break into an egg song. Besides the rooster crowing, chickens also sing, squawk, and do so for hours before and after eggs. You will know your chicken is getting ready to lay when out of nowhere they become increasingly talkative.
They Get An Increase In Appetite
As your chicken gear up to lay eggs, her body undergoes numerous changes both outside and inside. Forming and laying eggs takes a lot of energy! Therefore, these chickens begin to eat more than usual.
Laying hens require different nutritional needs compared to roosters or younger pullets. Younger birds eat starter and grower feeds that contain higher levels of protein to support their fast growth.
Layer birds’ feeds have lower protein levels, with extra calcium to help with eggshell formation. Therefore, it is important to gradually transition your chickens to layers feed once they reach 18 weeks old or lay their first egg. Also, provide a source of calcium like oyster shells or eggshells when they are ready to lay or as soon as they begin to lay.
She Will Get Into Squatting Behaviour
Unlike before, when she would be unwilling to squat, now she will start to squat more often even when you pet her. Do not get into the habit of cuddling her when you notice she is squatting a lot, as this can become irritating to her when she is trying to earn the egg-laying posture.
Her squatting behaviour signals that she is willing and ready to be mounted by a rooster to fertilize her coming eggs. It would be best if you have a rooster around to help you get fertilized eggs.
Reasons Why Your Chicken Are Not Laying
Besides the young, immature chicken, there are other reasons why your chicken could not be laid. Here are some of the reasons why your chickens are not laying.
- They are too young
- They have grown too old past their laying time
- Chickens do not lay during wintertime
- They may be moulting feathers
- Your hens could be broody
- Your chickens could have internal parasites
- Alternatively, they could be ill – illness in chicken causes a drop in laying eggs.
- Your hens could be stressed
- You are not feeding them with a proper diet
Time Of The Year And How Do Chickens Lay Eggs In Different Seasons
The majority of the young chickens will begin to lay eggs within the first year. If you happen to get your chicks later in the year – either summer or fall, and they come into maturity during the cold days of winter or fall, you may have to wait until next spring to receive fresh eggs.
Even for mature eggs that are already laying, the reduced daylight hours during wintertime signals them to take a natural break from laying eggs. They do this to conserve their energy and nutrients to brace themselves for the cold winter ahead.
During this non-laying season, you will notice their combs and wattles become smaller and pale again due to a change in their hormones.
However, it is common to find young chickens continue to lay eggs through their first winter. They will then take a break the following winter after that.
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The moment you have been waiting for is finally here as your chicken lays the first eggs. When chickens start laying their eggs, their first eggs are relatively smaller than what they will regularly.
Even with the long wait, you will have baskets full of beautiful large fresh eggs from your own chicken. Be sure to reward your chickens for their hard work too! You will get to see the rewards of your hard work.