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What to Eggspect When Hens Are Eggspecting

What to eggpect when you are eggpecting

Your spring chicks are likely approaching 5 or 6 months old by now, so it's time to start looking for some eggs from them! Usually, around 18-22 weeks is when a hen will start laying, although some may start a week or two earlier, and others might make you wait slightly longer. But, again, it's very dependent on the breed and the individual chicken. While there's nothing you can do to "force" a hen to start laying eggs, there are some things you can do to ensure that she has what she needs to lay nutritious eggs with nice strong shells.

Chicken surprised by laying an egg

When a hen gets close to laying age, you might notice her checking out the nesting boxes, so be sure they are full of nice, clean, soft bedding.  Pine shavings, chopped straw, hemp bedding, or aspen nesting pads are all excellent choices. 

Pine Bedding

And putting a few fake eggs or even round smooth stones in the boxes can help show new layers where to lay their eggs.

Chickens laying eggs

You should switch your hens over to layer feed from grower feed anytime around 18 weeks old. Layer feed won't "make" hens lay, but what it does is provide them with the calcium they need to lay eggs with strong shells. Calcium is also responsible for creating the contractions that help push the eggs down the oviduct, so it's critical that laying hens have a constant supply.

Now is also an excellent time to put out a calcium supplement for your hens. It's always best to offer crushed oyster shell in a separate container and not mix it into their feed. This way, each hen can eat as much or as little calcium as she needs to supplement what's in the feed.

Once your chickens start laying, you can rinse off and air dry the shells of the eggs they lay, then crush them and feed the crushed shells back to the chickens for a very economical calcium source.

We're all ears graphic

No chicken will lay an egg every day. It sometimes takes a while for a hen to start laying regularly, but you should expect between 4-6 eggs a week from each hen, at least for the first two laying seasons. After that, a hen's egg production usually drops about 20% per year until she might only lay the occasional egg by the time she’s 5 or 6 years old.

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