Who is Laying.....and Who is Not? Butt Check!

Who is Laying.....and Who is Not? Butt Check! [IMG]
By aart · Nov 6, 2017 · ·
  1. aart
    I've typed this out many times in the past few days,
    so decided to put it in an article so I can link it in responses.

    Got pullets newly laying and not sure who is laying and who is not?
    This also applies to older birds.
    Under the tail will tell the true tale, so part those fluffy feathers and take a look!
    Yeahyeah, might sound gross, butt(haha) it's good thing to learn how to do.
    Might not tell you who is laying what, gotta catch 'em in the 'hot egged' act for that,
    but if you start early and every time time you find a tiny new egg,
    do the butt check to see who the new layer is,
    and it might tell you who is laying what.

    Vent Appearance:
    Dry, tight, and smaller - usually not laying.
    Moist, wide, and larger - usually laying.

    Pelvic Points, feel for the 2 bony points(pelvic bones F-F) on either side of vent:
    Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
    More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.
    (Spacing is relative with chickens size and humans finger size.)
    (Spacing also relative with bantams, compare laying to not laying birds.)
    With practice and experience it will get easier.

    Here's another illustration that might be helpful (the pelvic points are labeled 'pubic'),
    tho I have no experience with the distance between vent and breastbone:
    Chicken Pubic and Keel bones.jpg

    For those having trouble finding the pelvic points, this video shows it pretty clearly on old older bare butted hen. The hardest part of butt checks can be getting the feathers out of the way to see the vent and find the pelvic points.

    Other new layers notes:
    New layers can be quite goofy acting, they don't know what they are doing at first and can be confused and anxious, it can take up to a month or so before they get it all figured out. Putting some fake eggs or golf balls in the nest might help show them where to lay. They may scratch around in the nests for weeks before laying, spreading the bedding everywhere. They will scratch around a bit less in nest as they get used to the routine. Meanwhile, eggs everywhere, some of them can be rather funky looking, soft or thin shelled, huge double yolked eggs.

    Signs of onset of lay---I've found the pelvic points(see above) to be the most accurate.

    If you touch their back they will hunker down on the ground, then shake their tail feathers when they get back up.
    Tho not all birds will do this, especially if there's a cockbird in the flock.
    This shows they are sexually mature and egg laying is close at hand.

    Combs and Wattles:
    Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
    Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.
    Tho I have found that the combs and wattles can look full and red one minute then pale back out the next due to exertion or excitement, can drive ya nuts when waiting for a pullet to lay!

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    Perris, Silverskye76, Zoomum and 34 others like this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. mrs_organized_chaos
    "Very helpful"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 27, 2018
    This article is very helpful and included lots of helpful illustrations. Great job
  2. Bettyboop7499
    "Great article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 19, 2018
    This article is spot on! I had no idea what was going on in my coop! The hay was being thrown everywhere, taken out of the nest boxes, the floor was all scratched up...I was starting to wonder if there was fighting going on at night...but today I found my first egg! However, I didn't know the two were related until after reading this article-Thanks!
  3. Chicken Strut
    "Helpful visuals for egg-layers"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 19, 2018
    This is a quite helpful article if you are wondering which chicken is laying the eggs you are finding - or to assess how soon your pullets may begin to lay.


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  1. Mistolove
    Thank you for the details on laying. Very informative.
  2. deedledumpling1
    Thank you, this is very helpful. My chicks are 15 weeks, I can see they have been rooting around in the nesting boxes (that are elevated with a roost out front of them). Good to know they are exploring them, and no poop in the boxes. Do I need to worry about 3 windows at the east facing side of the coop? Should I put curtains on the windows, or am thinking at least the nesting boxes. Thoughts for a new mama. Also gonna put fake eggs in soon. My Roo just started crowing, he is so cute!
    1. aart
      I would say no curtains are needed.
  3. ChickenCanoe
  4. ElfEars
    Very interesting information!! I've been wondering this myself! Thank you

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