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6 Things You Should Know Before a Hen Lays Eggs

Are you wondering when your hens will start to lay? The excitement is building, but you are not sure what will happen? I can relate.

It’s important to know when your chickens will start to lay eggs regularly. In our experience with over 30+ chickens at one point, I’ve found the following tips to look for.

hens-laying-eggs-sign

It all happened one morning when I was at the computer typing away my coupon deals early morning at 5 a.m.  I grew up in the city without chickens.

I thought that only Roosters were the ones to make noise. I was so startled by WHAT I heard coming from our chicken coop; I slammed down my laptop, put on my boots, and flung open the chicken coop door to see what was going on.  Oh, the mistakes we made in the beginning. 🙂

An egg. The hen was laying an egg.  So let’s chat a minute about what to look for and COMPLETELY normal things. If you don’t have chickens already, let me tell you, they are a loud, chatty bunch. It’s normal.

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6 Things You Should Know Before a Hen Lays Eggs

 

The Color Comb

If you pay close enough attention, her comb may become larger and redder in color. So it's a good idea always to keep an eye on your hens' comb because it can tell you a lot about their health.

For example, a pale comb in the summer can be several things one heat exhaustion. By the way, our summer is this year a few of the ladies are lighter. Molting is another perfectly normal thing that can cause the comb to be lighter.

Things that cause concern for a lighter comb- mites, lice, worms.

6 Things You Should Know Before a Hen Lays Eggs

 

The Nesting Box

Right before your hen starts laying eggs, she will be checking out her nesting box. If you have carried a child, you know all about the nesting instinct. Well, your chickens go through something similar. You can get very creative in how you make your own nesting box. Just a couple of pieces of plywood will work.

Read or Pin: How to Get your Chickens to Lay Eggs Longer

We have two separate coops for our chickens because we lived in the city before we moved out here and had our 6 chickens and coop; then we got chicken crazy and at one point had over 30 birds and made a chicken coop in our super old crooked barn! Frugalness at its finest!

On our city chicken coop, there are two nesting boxes off the side.  You lift a separate piece of wood on the top to reach in and grab the eggs.

We tried the 5-gallon buckets all stacked up, but the chickens didn't like it. I didn't either. The poop all over it was not cool.

So we used what we already had. There was a cabinet-type shelf in the bottom of our old barn that we turned into a nesting area. It now has 7 nesting boxes for the ladies. The best part was it was free!

CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF HOUSEHOLD ITEMS YOU CAN USE FOR YOUR CHICKENS

What to look for when your hen starts laying eggs

The Squat. 

When your chickens are near a week or so in laying their first egg, they will start to squat down. Of course, this is the instinct for the Rooster to climb on too, well, you know to do his business.

They will continue to squat for you even after laying. However, I have found that my hens are lower in the pecking order squat when they hear my name. My older hens have stopped doing this, but in their first year, they squatted all the time when my kids or I would approach them.

She's Loud

Oh, if you think getting hens and not a rooster is a good idea because they are quiet, think again. These ladies can get quite loud. They are very noisy the first time they are getting ready to lay an egg. Think of it like the first time you gave birth if you have.

If you hear a bunch of squawking, they are probably so close to laying. However, years later, some hens are still very loud right before they lay an egg.

Things to Look For When They Start Laying

Easter Egg Hunt

If your nesting boxes aren't just right for your girls, you may be on an Easter egg hunt each day.  Our first set of chickens, my husband, built a really nice backyard chicken coop. The nesting boxes are fabulous both for the hens and for us to easily reach the eggs out.

READ OR PIN FOR LATER HOW THE WEATHER AFFECTS THE LOOK OF YOUR EGGS

Our first set of chickens, my husband, built a really nice backyard chicken coop. The nesting boxes are fabulous both for the hens and for us to easily reach the eggs out.

In the second batch of chickens, we saw the five-gallon buckets stacked. Our chickens did not like these. I didn't either. The poop all on top of each bucket was not fun to get off. Once our chickens found a spot in the hay behind some old pallets, I knew something wasn't right. So we made wider nesting boxes that the chickens took to right away.

Before that, we had chickens going in an old trash can down in the barn. One laid one on the back deck. Now they all go in their nesting box, for the most part! If you have your chickens pastured raised, you will run into this, but you should find they will go in their nesting box if you keep them contained.

Use an old golf ball to keep in the nesting box. We still have a golf ball in ours. Don't buy the fake egg at Tractor supply; save your money, be frugal. Be practical.

Be prepared that they may still lay an egg in an undesirable spot initially, but if you offer enough bedding in the box and a box they can move and feel private in, they will start laying on their own in that nesting box.

What to look for when your hen starts laying eggs

 

Shellless Eggs

I am nowhere near a chicken pro here, but through our 30 hens, we have had several shell-less eggs initially.

Once they are past the first days of laying, if you notice your hens are laying shell-less eggs, it could be a lack of calcium. You can easily fix this by providing your hens oyster shells or the frugal way cooked cracked eggshells. We do this a few times in the winter. We will save up the eggshells from the week, crush them with a rolling pin and bake for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees. Then I sprinkle over their pellets.

READ OR PIN FOR LATER: HOW TO COOK A PERFECTLY HARD-BOILED EGG

Size

The size of your hen's first egg will be small. After that, the egg will gradually get larger depending on your breed. For example, we have 16 Rhode Island Reds that their eggs started as a medium size for a while, and now they are large to extra large.

6 Things You Should Know Before a Hen Lays Eggs

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Larry

Thursday 6th of February 2020

Tasia, the one lady that has 13 hens but only three eggs, I would suggest a little bit of hot sauce sprinkled on their scratch. Internal heat is a compulsory factor in getting all hens laying.

Radia

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

Hello Tasia,

I have backyard chickens. I have had my chickens for 2 and a half months now and I would like to know when to expect them to start laying and when do I transition to egg laying feed?

Tasia

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

Hi Radia! Two and a half months is still young. We transition our chicks to layer feed around 18 weeks. Every chicken is different especially from breed to breed but we typically see our hens start laying around the 18 week mark. You can even start layer feed after they lay their first egg.

joAnn

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Thanks sooooo much for the great advce. I HAVE A Dozen hens and am getting 1 egg a day, my husband calls them the $4.00 eggs.

Tasia

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Hi Joann! Oh dear that is funny though. Are your hens free ranged?

Sally Salgado

Monday 22nd of October 2018

I have 13 and only get 3 eggs a day how do you get them to lay

Tasia

Monday 22nd of October 2018

Hi Sally, it could be a number of things. First, do you let your chickens free range out of the pen? How old are your hens? Have you tried eggshells? Sometimes cooking their eggshells in the oven for about 15 minutes and crushing up and mixing with food helps. younger hens may not be laying yet, older hens may have stopped laying. Fall time is when chickens molt and that could be a reason as well.

Ruby

Monday 6th of August 2018

This was the best "get to the point" helpful article I have read on this subject! Thank you!!!!

Tasia

Monday 6th of August 2018

HI Ruby! I am so glad to hear that. Thank you for the feedback. Hope your hens are laying beautiful eggs for you.

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