When Do Rhode Island Reds Start Laying? (A Look at When Rhode Island Red Chickens Should Begin to Lay Eggs)

At What Age Do Rhode Island Reds Lay Eggs?

The average Rhode Island Red chicken typically begins laying brown eggs at around 18 to 20 weeks (a little less than 5 months), although some begin at around 16 weeks old.

However, they don’t lay 4 to 6 eggs a week right away. You probably won’t find them laying regularly until they’re about 30 weeks old.

It’s common for these backyard chickens to lay large eggs in their first year. And, in the following years, Rhode Island Reds are known to lay double-yoked eggs at times.

Will Rhode Island Reds Lay Eggs in Winter?

As the weather gets colder, egg production typically slows down in winter. Egg-laying is largely dependent on daylight hours, and most layers slow down or stop producing eggs when they receive fewer than 12 hours of daylight per day.

Fortunately, Rhode Island Red hens are hardy birds that withstand cold weather and lay eggs almost every day, or at least every 2 days, throughout the year.

With the proper care, you can enjoy fresh eggs from your Rhode Island Reds all winter long. So make sure they have a consistent source of food and water and that their coop is well-ventilated but protected from drafts.

Do Rhode Island Reds Lay Eggs All Year?

Not quite. Rhode Island Reds do have a molting period in the fall when they will slow down or stop egg-laying for several weeks.

Molting is the process by which a chicken grows new feathers. Every chicken will molt each year and it can take between 6 and 16 weeks to grow back new feathers. During this time, hens may stop laying eggs altogether because molting is very physically demanding.

This can be frustrating for chicken owners who are counting on their birds to produce eggs on a regular basis. But, be patient! Molting is a natural process that all chickens go through.

The only way you can help your molting chickens is by reducing their stress (no changes to their routines), and providing them with a diet that’s higher in protein. You can switch their feed to something that contains 20 to 24% protein, like a gamebird feed (Amazon), while they’re molting.

Why Are My Rhode Island Reds Not Laying?

If your Rhode Island Reds are over 24 weeks old and they’re still not laying eggs, look into these possible reasons:

Diet: The biggest contributor to great egg production is feeding pullets a good-quality layer feed (Amazon) once they reach 18 weeks or once they lay their first egg, whichever comes first. It’s also essential that you feed young chicks a great diet too so they can develop into strong, healthy hens in the future.

Warning: Chickens Need Grit!

If your chickens eat anything but commercial poultry feed, then you must feed them grit. Grit is essential because it helps them grind up their food and aids in digestion.

There’s poultry grit (Amazon) for chickens that are older than 8 weeks and smaller grit for chicks (Amazon) who are 2 to 8 weeks old.

For more information on this topic, check out my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells and Grit?

Water: Chickens need clean water throughout the day, especially when they’re eating. Without fresh water, egg-laying may drastically decrease or stop.

A hen may require 24 hours to recover if she goes without water for just a day. She might need 2 or 3 weeks to recover if she goes without water for just 36 hours.

She may also experience a molt after being without water for 2 days, followed by a significant period of poor laying (from which she might not recover).

Oyster Shells: You might also want to offer your layers some crushed oyster shells (Amazon) on the side, in a separate dish. Oyster shells will provide calcium, which is necessary for the formation of strong eggshells. For more information about oyster shells, read my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells and Grit?

Broody Hen: If you have a broody hen, she won’t lay eggs no matter if she has the best diet or enough sunlight.

Stress: Chickens love routine and the smallest disturbance to their routine usually hinders egg production. Stress comes in many forms, such as new flock members, moving locations, predators, overcrowding, aggressive hens, loud noises, too much heat or cold, poor nutrition, and illness.

How Do I Know When Rhode Island Reds Are Ready To Lay Eggs?

Here’s an easy way to know if your Rhode Island Reds 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.

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.

A hen will crouch when a cock places his foot on a hen’s back to prepare for mating.

Conclusion: When Will My Rhode Island Reds Start Laying?

Rhode Island Reds are a great choice for backyard chicken keepers looking for good egg production. They are also a good choice for those wanting a dual-purpose chicken, as they can be used for both meat and eggs.

So, to answer the original question, Rhode Island Reds will generally start to lay anywhere from 18 to 20 weeks.

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.