How do I know if they're getting ready to lay?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ZaneyMama, May 27, 2010.

  1. ZaneyMama

    ZaneyMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    I have 10 15-week olds. One of the barred rocks is much more mature (has more comb and waddle) and I'm thinking she may be the first to start laying. Is there any way to tell when she's ready?

    I have 2 that are pooping in the nesting boxes still - I've got to get them to stop! I may try hanging a covering with slits over the front of the boxes so they aren't as tempted to roost in there.

    Thanks!
     
  2. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    About the nest poop, make sure their roost is higher than the nest. For safety, they always want to roost & spend the night at the higher spot and they poop a lot during the night. So, most people try to put the roost a little higher than the nest boxes to discourage sleeping there.

    About what to look for to know if they are about to lay:
    1. 15 weeks is a little too young yet. My earliest bird laid at 19+ weeks, the rest laid between 24-30 weeks, with one very late layer at 39 weeks.
    2. I'd look for VERY developed & red combs and wattles, plus very red faces. (check pics on BYC for examples)
    3. Do they squat, when you reach for them? If they do, they are maybe a week or two from laying (put out oyster shell for them)
    4. If you check the pelvic bones spacing on their side of the vent, for large breeds you usually can feel a space big enough to fit 3 fingers. If it's narrower than that, they won't be laying for a while.
    5. Interested in the nestboxes -- spending time fussing with the straw in the nest, and maybe sitting there, like they're gonna lay.
    6. Walking around, tossing straw over their shoulders (means they are REALLY close to laying their egg - so expect one THAT day!)

    Put a golf ball into each nest, that will stimulate their desire to lay there- when they're ready to lay. Other than that, feed & water them well and wait, wait, wait... [​IMG]
     
  3. JulieZ

    JulieZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 5, 2010
    Trenton, Florida
    My Light Brahma's are 16 weeks. Isn't that too early to put out nesting boxes? When should one put them out?

    One of my hens today, not very combed out or red in the face, dug a hole & laid in it. Okay, normal. Then she went to doing something I've never seen before as a "dust bath". She laid side ways on her right side & began going in a slow circle inside the hole. She was rubbing her rear end against the sand. Another hen came up to her & she left the hole. As the other hen was going to get comfy, the girl came rushing back & guarded that area. I let it be & went back hours later to see if there was any change. Now the hole was completely covered up ... like a cat that went to the bathroom & covered it. I moved the sand around incase of a hidden egg but nothing. I'm chalking this up as a hen trying to cool off her rear end. [​IMG] Am I calling it right?

    Julie
     
  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    That's right, Julie, it's a dust bath. All birds do it, even the wild ones. I've never had a hen lay an egg in the dust bath, but I have had them poop in it. Nice! [​IMG]
     
  5. ZaneyMama

    ZaneyMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    Feathersnuggles, where should I look for pictures? Thanks!
     
  6. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Quote:I can't tell you exactly where on BYC. I can tell you that, when my birds were young pullets, I especially began to note the BYC "first egg" posts where people were posting about getting their first egg from this or that breed. You know, the posts that go: "I got my first egg, today, from my XX-week-old Barred Rock (or whatever breed)... Here's her egg, and here's a picture of the girl that laid it!"

    In particular really looked at pictures of the breeds that I had, noting the size of combs and wattles, intensity of the redness in the face and overall development of the body.

    You can search BYC for posts about your breeds, or you can do google searches for pictures on BYC, too.
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    In addition to feathersnuggles post:

    They may sing the egg song before they start laying. Not all chickens do it, but most of mine do. It sounds like bok bok bok bok BAGAWWWWK. (and yes, it's loud)
    The day or 2 before mine start laying they got very vocal. (more than usual) They also paced back and forth from the coop to the run.
     
  8. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Here's a picture of a red face of a laying pullet.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    And here's a picture of a pullet (the one in front), the day she laid her first egg. She was my first to lay, at 19 weeks old.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. ZaneyMama

    ZaneyMama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    One of my barred rocks looks very similar to that one, but she's only 15 weeks old. I'm guessing she and one of my RIR's are going to be the first to lay by the redness of faces and size of combs. I guess I have another month to wait, darnit. Hopefully sooner!
     

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