So, you’re sure that you have a hen (and not a rooster). Now you are waiting (and waiting) for her to lay her first egg. You won’t know for sure that she is laying until, well, you see her first egg. However there are a few signs you can look for that will let you know your hen is ready to lay.
Once your hen is ready to lay, you will want to make sure that you are feeding a layer feed (which has more calcium in it) rather than a starter or grower feed. The additional calcium in the layer feed will ensure that your hen is able to properly form solid egg shells.
How exactly will you be able to tell that your hen is ready to lay?
Here are the top 3 signs your hen is ready to lay:
1) Age – we include age here, but really this can be a pretty big range among different breeds. That being said, if you know the specific breed of your chicken, age can be a helpful indicator on when your hen will be ready to lay her first egg.
Sex links may start laying relatively young (around 16 – 18 weeks). However, other breeds such as Silkies can take up to a year. There are also, of course, some breeds who fall into the middle range like Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers tend to start to lay in the 20 – 25 week age range.
So, while you can’t use one single age across the board, if you know the norms for your particular breed it can certainly help you get a good ballpark on when to expect your first egg.
2) Comb/Wattles – although a hen will not get a huge comb and wattles like a rooster, she will get bigger, redder ones right before she starts laying.
Often times, a hen will not really have much of anything in the way of comb/wattles when she is a young pullet. These will be extremely pale pink.
However, as your hen gets close to being ready to lay, her comb and wattles will get significantly larger and turn a deep red.
3) Squatting – a hen who is close to point of lay will start “squatting” behavior. Squatting is pretty much what it sounds like, the hen will hunker down sort of spreading her wings a bit.
Often times you can trigger her to do so by putting your hand out over her. Hens do this to get in “position” for a rooster and so they don’t start squatting until they are close to maturity (egg laying age).
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