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How Long for Chicken to *BEGIN* Laying

How Long till my Chickens start to Lay Eggs

When we raised our first group of layers – we were anxiously waiting for our first Egg. This puts a little more interesting facts into understanding how long it takes until a Hen would Lay her first egg.

Normally, the average hen starts to lay at about 18 weeks of age but this depends on the breed, environment, and the individual bird. At this age, you are advised to switch to a Purina feed which provides the added calcium laying hens need to produce an egg each day.

How Long for Chicken to begin Laying

How Long Until my Hen will begin Laying

How Long for a Chicken to begin Laying – The dream of the average hen farmer is for every hen in his or her flock to lay its first egg and do so quickly. 
As a farmer, you might be feeling a bit of anxiety and have a mindset that is continually bugged with the thought “when do chickens lay eggs”?  You don’t need a rooster for egg production unless you want to have fertilized eggs for hatching.

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Signs of Getting ready to Start Laying


The behaviors of pullets change when they are about to lay their first egg.  You may observe them spending more time with a rooster, crouching for breeding, or investigating their nesting area. When you notice this, make sure you keep the hens in the coop for a short period of time. You may introduce golf balls or decoy eggs in their nesting boxes to help hens understand the use of the nesting boxes.

The first eggs from a hen may be irregular in shape and size. They may be small in size, have soft shells, no yolk or double yolks. But this usually stops after a week or so. The rate at which hens lay eggs may become more consistent and experience peak performance at about 30 weeks of age.

 In order to have hens that lay healthy eggs during their first laying attempt, you need to follow these instructions.

Nesting Boxes

  • You should make a foot square nesting box for every four laying hens. Your flock should take turns when using the boxes. Every nest box should be lined with a thick layer of straw, pine shavings or other bedding to cushion the eggs. Raise the nesting box from the floor with something and make sure it is situated in the darkest corner of the coop with privacy for the hen.

  • The environment of the nests should be uniform. The instinct of a hen after her first lay is to continue laying in the same spot and forward. Sometimes, hens may prefer a particular nesting box and so may continue using it and if it’s the entire flock, this may cause them stress and may lead to egg breakage or egg eating.  Hens at times prefer to use the same nesting box even if they are all uniform in design. If the birds don’t fight or harm each other, this may not be a big issue. But if you are bothered, you may block all access to the preferred nesting box and guide the hens to the other available boxes. If you do this, the hens may decide the other nesting boxes work just fine as well and may not return to the original boxes.

The right amount of Light

Age is the major deciding factor for a hen first lay, but daylight also plays a role. The key driver which encourages hens to lay eggs is an increase in day length this means that you should try to provide at least 16 hours of light and 8 hours of the dark as sleep is also necessary for healthy eggs.
If your hen gets to the age of about 18 weeks during the winter or during fall when daylight hours may shorten, you may have to provide an artificial source of light like 25-watts of incandescent light to 100 square feet to encourage the hens to lay eggs. If you don’t do this, your hens may go through the winter season without laying an egg.

Right Type of Feed

It is very important to feed chicks and pullets a complete starter grower mash feed because it contains protein and lower calcium. It should start from day one through week seventeen.

At week 18, laying hens can be transitioned to a complete layer feed. If at week 18 and then hens have not started laying eggs, you can also change their normal grower mash to a complete layer feed. The feed contains the necessary requirements that can jump-start egg production. If you must transition from growers mash early enough, it should be around week 16.

A typical layer feed for your hen should include about 16 percent protein and 3.25-4.5 percent calcium. You can’t talk about it egg production without mentioning calcium. For eggshell formation, hens need about 4-5 grams of calcium every day. You must make sure you get a feed that has enough calcium as hens may pull the nutrient from their bones when it is not sufficient in their feeds and this could lead to a weak skeletal body framework.

Your layers need a consistent supply of calcium for eggshell formation. It takes about 20 hours to form eggshells. The only feed that contains the oyster strong system for continuous calcium release is the Purina complete layer feeds. A strong and protective shell will be formed due to the combination of small particles and large particle calcium plus vitamins and minerals release throughout the 20-hour process.

Purina layer feeds contain 38 nutrients which are essentially needed by laying hens. These nutrients are needed for growth and eggshell formation. With this feed, there is no need for a supplement.

When your hens are finally ready to start laying eggs, you should start feeding a layer feed (which has more calcium in it) rather than a starter or grower feed to them. The calcium in the feed makes sure your hens are able to properly form solid eggshells.

When and What to Feed your Chickens to Keep them Laying

Physical Traits of beginning to Lay

The following signs show when your hens are ready to start laying eggs

Age as an indicator can help you to know when your hens are ready to lay their first egg. While some breeds can take up to 18 weeks to lay their first egg, Silkies may take up to a year.

Some breeds, like the Easter eggers, are in the middle range. It takes about 20-25 weeks to lay their first egg.

As already established, you cannot use only age as a criterion to judge when your hens will lay their first egg, but if you know the norms for your particular breeds, it can certainly help you to get a good ballpark on what age chickens start laying eggs.

Most livestock raisers invest in good-laying breeds to ensure the maximum production of high-quality eggs. It is one of the fastest-growing livelihood businesses recognized worldwide. The demand for eggs has skyrocketed over the years. Whether it is poached, fried or boiled people can just get enough of it. It is therefore crucial to condition and cultivates your poultry for increased productivity. In this kind of industry, the challenge that you must anticipate is to keep chickens laying eggs.

The comb of hens will not get huge like that of a rooster but right before she starts laying eggs, it will get bigger and redder. A young pullet hen does not really have anything in the way of the comb. Although, her comb will significantly get larger and redder as she gets ready to lay eggs.

Squatting behavior is another feature of a hen that is ready to start laying eggs. The hen will bend down and spread its wings. By doing this, the hen prepares herself and gets in position for the roaster. The implication is that your hen will only start squatting when she has reached maturity which is her egg-laying age.

It is important to understand that at some point every raiser will experience a decline in production. It is said that egg layers are expected to provide a bountiful harvest in the first year and anticipate a constant decline subsequently.

Final Thoughts

You should have known the average time frame is required for your hens to start laying by now, although bearing in mind factors like age and breeds. There are methods that can be done to ensure that the production of these eggs by your hens will always be at its peak. One common strategy used by commercial livestock raisers is a method called induced molting. Molting will typically occur even without the induction.

It is a process wherein birds lose their old feathers to grow a new one. All hens will eventually go through the process and the yielding of eggs is expected to be halted. Forced Molt is one drastic measure taken to allow their reproductive tracts to degenerate and recuperate. It is done by artificially provoking the flock of hens to molt simultaneously. While undergoing the procedure their production will be ceased for at least two weeks. This method often brings upon good results wherein the rate of production slightly peaks and improvement in egg quality is noted.

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  • Gregory Gaines

    Darlene and I have Lived on a 500 Acre farm, we lived there raising our 3 children and 6 Foster Children. On That farm we and our Children Raised Rabbits Chickens Hogs Cattle Goats Gaines Gregory