When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
If you are thinking about getting chickens, or have some growing up currently; you may be wondering when they will start laying eggs. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the breed of chicken, the age of the chicken, time of year and the environment in which the chicken is raised.
In general, most chickens start laying eggs at around 18 weeks of age. However, some breeds of chickens, such as Leghorns, may start laying eggs as early as 16 weeks of age. Other breeds, such as German Bielefelder, may not start laying eggs until they are 20 weeks old or older.
The age at which a chicken starts laying eggs is also affected by the environment in which the chicken is raised. Chickens that are raised in a warm, sunny environment will typically start laying eggs sooner than chickens that are raised in a cold, dark environment. This is in part because chickens need at least 14 hours of sunlight to start laying reliably. That triggers a part of their brain to know that it is spring going into summer. The days are longer, they can forage for food longer to keep their protein sources up for solid egg production and they are not expending extra energy trying to keep warm.
If you are eager to get your chickens laying eggs, there are a few things you can do to help them along. First, make sure that you are feeding your chickens a high-quality layer feed. This will provide them with the nutrients they need to produce eggs. Second, make sure that your chickens have plenty of access to fresh water. Third, make sure that your chickens have a comfortable place to lay their eggs. A nesting box with soft bedding will be ideal. If you are past 20 weeks and have not seen eggs yet there is always a chance your ladies are hiding their eggs somewhere in the barnyard. A REAL Easter egg hunt may yield the secret stash of eggs.
With a little patience and care, you will soon be enjoying fresh, delicious eggs from your own backyard chickens. Remember that the ladies will naturally slow down and often times stop laying all together in the late fall and winter because of the cold and lack of daylight hours. Some folks use supplemental lighting to make the ladies lay again. While this does work, it does not give the hens their natural winter break and in the long run it will shorten the life of the hens.
Here are some additional tips to help your chickens start laying eggs sooner:
- Keep them in a warm, dry environment.
- Feed them a high-quality layer feed.
- Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times.
- Provide them with a clean, comfortable nesting box. Think cozy, safe vibes for the ladies to be able to relax.
- Handle them gently and provide a calm safe feeling environment for them. Avoid needless chasing them around or causing them environmental stress.
There is nothing better than discovering a first laid egg from one of your girls, it truly feels like Christmas morning!