Pullets squat by lowering their bodies, tucking their heads down, and slightly spreading their wings away from their bodies. Some also will stamp their feet. This signifies they are ready to be mounted by the rooster.
When they do it for their people, it means they're indicating submission.
Generally, when they start doing this, they are within a month of laying. Adult hens may continue to do it throughout their lives. Or not.
Some hens won't squat, ever, even for a rooster. Or they may, now and then, when they feel like being submissive.
A gentleman rooster will accept a hen's refusal and not mount her. Young roosters are so charged with testosterone they don't care, and will mount a pullet or hen anyway. That causes a whole lot of chasing, feather pulling, and squawking.
When you get near them they 'squat' I think it is so the rooster will mount them, and perhaps they think of us giant featherless things as dominate genetic material...I don't know. I have not really figured out chicken thinking yet. I am still trying to figure out male brains.
If they are laying in the nest, just sitting down...Pick one up and see what is under her.
Good luck with the egg thing! it is so great!
I don't think we will ever figure out the male brains......LOL They are still not too used to me even though I sit in the pen with them sometimes I do it almost daily and talk to them, but I just got them a month ago so they were older. They run when I get near them.....LOL
Go pick one up. Sit with her. Say sing song nothings in a ridiculous 'I hope no one sees me sort of way', and rub her neck and ears. I have a chair in the run for this purpose. Soon, they will jump up in your lap for that ridiculous ritual..and soon, sadly, you will be discussing world events and family problems with a chicken. Sometimes the say, brrrrick, birrrck, birrck' which I have decided is,"I KNOW, I Know!"
Its so hard to catch them....LOL We have an A frame pen and I can't tell you how many times I have hit my head trying to get one. I have a stool in there and I do sit and talk to them and bring them treats. They love the treats more than me.....LOL