How can I tell which hens are good layers? Don't want to use a trap nest. I think I have a couple free-loaders but am not sure who they are. So if somebody could fill me in on the magic I could check them out . I am editing to add the great tips that I am getting: Who has plump red combs? That's been my best indicator of who is laying. A molting or older hen who is taking the winter off usually has a lighter, paler comb. Many times, a poor layer's feather are too pretty. If yellow legged, some the color returns to the legs. Another sign of non-laying. So...in the course of this learning curve over the years, I've only found one tried and true method of knowing for sure if they are laying an egg every day or every other day. Yes...I stick my finger up the hoo-hoo and palpate the next day's egg through the rectal wall. It doesn't hurt them and it removes all doubt....and saves many a good layer's lives. The rest pf those tell-tale signs? Indicators but not foolproof.