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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lorraine Perth, Feb 7, 2014.
How old are hens when they start laying? How long before eggs reach full size? How long do they lay?
Start of lay varies by breed, line, and climate factors. Since your avatar shows a Red Sex Link then you can say they should be laying by 26 weeks old, can start as early as 18 weeks. All my hatchery production birds started laying between 22 and 24 weeks.
The pullet eggs will get to consistent shape and size in a month. Eggs do continue to get bigger as the bird ages. They will lay until first molt as a hen then seriously slow down or stop altogether for 3 or even more months. After each yearly molt there will be a reduction in quantity but eggs will be a bit bigger. She will lay from molt to next years molt. How many years? It's up to the hen and breed. Production Reds I had were slated for culling in fall when they were 2.5 years old, fair layers but knew by next molt end and even fewer eggs they'd past usefulness. One died of internal laying that summer before culling. Common problem with production birds, seems to happen during third year like mine.
Yes, it depends on a lot of factors, including breed. Some breeds are slow to mature, and some are faster. Hybrids, like sex links, will usually start laying early. Slower developers, like brahma's, barnevelders, and heritage breeding stock will lay much later. Most from a hatchery will lay around 6 months of age.
Thanks for the replies, they are most helpful
Couldn't agree more, we just culled our last two production birds a few weeks ago, they were three years old, one had stopped laying completely and the other only laid fart eggs (for several months) When we opened her up she had all these yolks but never laid them...Weird...we also had one die last summer from internal laying
So what are the best hens for a beginner who just wants a few eggs for the family and a hen that can be handled and not aggressive
You will find we all have our preferences bases on what we own. There are too many options but I like wyandottes, Plymouth rocks and Easter eggers for beginners. I raise started pullets to sell and stick with those 3. They are an attractive collection of colors which always adds to the flock.
There are good and bad in just about every breed. You can have a docile breed, but end up with a crazy aggressive rooster. Barnevelders are very mellow and my roosters are very good with my kids (always supervised, as they are still animals), hens and especially babies. Cochins, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Brahma's are some other great breeds. My advise is to pick a few of whatever breeds appeal to you and start that way.
Delaware hens are really sweet but they lay small cream colored eggs. And ours will tolerate me putting a dress on her. : )