Contents: When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
How Long Does It Take for a Chicken To Lay Its First Egg?
Usually, most pullets are around 18 and 24 weeks old (4 to 5 1/2 months) when they start laying eggs. (A teenage female chicken, that’s less than a year old, is called a pullet.)
However, this time frame varies depending on the breed of chicken.
Some breeds will begin laying eggs as early as 16 weeks old, while others may not lay their first egg until they reach 28 weeks.
|Breed||Typically Starts Laying At…|
|Isa Brown||20 – 22 weeks|
|Lohmann Brown||18 weeks|
|Golden Comet||15 – 16 weeks|
|Rhode Island Red||18 – 20 weeks|
|Leghorn||18 – 20 weeks|
|Sussex||16 – 20 weeks|
|Australorp||20 – 24 weeks|
|Ameraucana||25 – 30 weeks|
|Plymouth Rock||16 – 20 weeks|
|Ancona||21 – 22 weeks|
|Buff Orpington||19 – 24 weeks|
|Marans||35 – 39 weeks|
|Hamburg||17 – 22 weeks|
After many years of experience having different kinds of breeds, I can say that the average pullet will lay her first egg between the ages of 5 and 6 months old.
But every individual chicken is different and sometimes it just takes longer to see that first egg. There’s always that odd chicken that might only start laying eggs after a year or later. And some chickens never lay eggs at all due to a genetic defect.
And then there are some breeds of chickens (usually the larger birds or silkies) that can take up to 39 weeks before they produce an egg.
How Do I Get My Chickens To Start Laying Eggs?
Although you can’t control things like breed or age, there are a few factors that will encourage hens to start laying eggs on time.
If you want your hens to lay eggs, it is very important to maintain good nutrition throughout the first developmental stages of the chicks’ and pullets’ life. A poor diet can lead to health problems and delayed egg production.
Here’s how you should feed your chickens:
- 0 to 8 Weeks Old (Chicks): Their diet should contain around 18-19% protein. You should feed chick starter (Amazon) or
- 8 to around 18 Weeks Old (Pullets): Their diet should contain around 17-18% protein. You should feed them a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.
- 18 Weeks or Above (Egg-Layers): Once chickens start laying eggs, they require around 16% protein in their feed. You should feed your hens layer feed (Amazon) to help them in their egg-laying.
- Mixed Flock: Feed starter grower feed (Amazon) and oyster shells should be made available, in a separate bowl or feeder. If egg-laying eggs need extra calcium, they will eat the appropriate amount of oyster shells. Do not feed extra calcium to non-laying hens as it can be detrimental to their health.
I recommend waiting until a chicken is 18 weeks old before giving them any treats. Young chickens primarily need the vitamins and minerals from commercial feed* so they can mature into healthy egg-laying hens.
*Some people know how to make homemade feed and more power to them! I stick to commercial feed because I don’t have the patience or time to figure it out… not yet, anyway.
Medicated vs Unmedicated Feed
If your chicks have been given the coccidiosis vaccine, do not feed them medicated starter feed (Amazon). The amprolium in the medicated feed, which helps protect chicks against coccidiosis, will make the coccidiosis vaccine ineffective.
Give them unmedicated chick starter (Amazon) instead.
Clean, fresh water is often a necessity that is overlooked. For their size, chicks can drink a remarkable amount of water. But the main problem with chicks is that they dirty their water non-stop.
The quality of the water must be constantly monitored and changed frequently because, unfortunately, chicks will keep scratching the litter into the drinker and pooping in it.
It will help to lift the drinker slightly, but you should still change the water often. This becomes less of a problem once they get bigger because you can lift the drinkers and feeders higher above ground.
If you are a fan of poultry nipple drinkers, they can be used with day-old chicks if you direct them in how to use them. But, just to be safe, I would still put in a small regular drinker for several days to make sure they get the water they need.
Regular health checks should be carried out on a monthly basis because parasites lice, mites, and worms might prevent chickens from laying eggs.
Egg-laying may also be severely affected by diseases like fowlpox and coccidiosis. But if you have bought your chickens from a reliable place, these types of diseases shouldn’t be a problem for you.
If they get sick while they’re still a pullet, they could have a hard time laying eggs for the rest of their lives.
The production of eggs in hens is greatly affected by the season and the number of daylight hours. Hens need approximately 12 hours of light every day to lay an egg. So as fall and winter come, egg production will decrease or might stop altogether.
The number of daylight hours could also delay when pullets will start laying eggs. For example, if a pullet is old enough to lay eggs in December, it might not actually produce an egg until the days start to get longer in spring.
Stress can have a significant impact on when chickens will start laying eggs.
When a hen is stressed, her body goes into survival mode and redirects energy to vital organs, which results in a decrease in egg production. It can also stop egg production altogether.
So stress might be one of the reasons why your pullets haven’t started producing eggs yet.
There are several factors that can contribute to stress in hens, including poor nutrition, insufficient space, and exposure to extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
In order to maintain optimal egg production levels, it’s important to minimize stressors as much as possible. This can be achieved through providing adequate housing and care, as well as using management practices that minimize potential sources of stress.
Even though pullets really want to lay eggs, older hens might bully the pullets by keeping them away from the nesting boxes, which in turn causes stress.
An easy solution for this bullying is making new, temporary nest boxes for the pullets. You can use any kind of wooden, plastic, or cardboard box. Just add a nesting liner (Amazon), and the pullets are all set.
Things like an old wooden box, cardboard box, and cat carrier can make very nice impromptu nesting boxes.
The structure of the flock changes a little once the pullets start to routinely lay eggs. The older hens will usually start accepting the pullets more.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that hens can ignore the nesting boxes and find some other weird places to lay their eggs. So you might have to do a little egg hunting.
How Do I Know When My Chickens Are Ready To Lay Eggs?
Here’s an easy way to know if your chickens are ready to lay eggs.
All you have to do is put your hand lightly on their back. If your hens continue walking around and don’t squat very low to the ground with their wings stretched out for balance, they are not ready to lay eggs.
A hen will crouch when a cock places his foot on a hen’s back to prepare for mating.
If they do stop walking to squat, this means that their reproductive organs are fully developed and they would be ready and willing to mate with a rooster. This squatting behavior is a very good sign that they’re about to lay eggs.
Conclusion: What Month Do Hens Start Laying Eggs?
So, to answer the original question, chickens will start to lay anywhere from 3.5 months to 9 months (and sometimes starting later than that).
If your chickens haven’t started laying eggs yet, and you followed the tips in this post, the final step might be to just be patient. It’s common for some chickens to take longer than others to lay their first egg.