What age do hens start laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by goatgirl4008, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. goatgirl4008

    goatgirl4008 In the Brooder

    Aug 30, 2010
    Gypsum Kansas
    We have 4 black jersey giants,4 light bramhas,4 gold laced wyandottes and 3 red sex links. We found 4 eggs today and I was wondering if the different breeds would mature at different times? Will they lay through the fall and winter? The hens are around 4 months old. Thanks for your help.

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    20-24 weeks, or whenever they want to. I have heard of hens waiting til over a year to lay their first egg. Usually you will get at least some eggs in winter, maybe not as many. Chickens are such individuals; it's a wait and see thing. Yes, they mature at different times, your sex links will probably be first. Hens sometimes are not fully matured and filled out til 2 years, though they usually lay well before that, of course. I think JG are slow to mature; I know this is true in their size, at least.
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    You ask 10 chickenkeepers that question, and you will get 12 different answers! LOL!

    Here's what I have discovered: When I got my chickens, I went by everything I learned on BYC as a good guideline. I have been told by many users on here that leghorns are egg-laying machines and will start laying at about 15-17 weeks. My leghorn is going on 21 weeks and we still got nuttin'. All my birds are in the 20-24 week range and we got nuttin'. No signs of it, no wattles, no combs, no nuttin' (except for the leghorn... she totally looks awesome with her developed comb/wattles and red face, but everybody else has tiny pink combs, slightly pink faces, and NO WATTLES AT ALL).

    Then, I went out and talked to chickenkeepers in the community at feedstores, etc., and was told that other than comets and sexlinks and leghorns, it is EXTREMELY rare for chickens such as RIRs, barred rocks, wellies, etc. (i.e., all the breeds I have) to lay eggs before they are 6-7 months old. One of the gentlemen I spoke with said his RIRs were all well over 6 months old before they started laying their first eggs and were roughly a year old before they were getting daily or nearly-daily eggs from them. And he said he has kept chickens for over 40 years and has never heard of a chicken laying an egg at 20 weeks except maybe a leghorn, and that those can start as early as 14 weeks.

    I've been told similar things now by a number of chickenkeepers, including one lady who raises birds for show and competition. She and her dad, both chickenkeepers (and owners of a local feed store) both say very adamantly not to expect any eggs before pullets are 6-7 months of age. I also was told that even if your bird is 7 or 8 months old and hasn't laid by the 1st frost, they won't lay until the following spring. I have a younger pullet that is just under 2 months old, and I don't expect any eggs from her at all until next spring, as well. She's a cross between an EE and an American gamefowl & is feathering in really, really beautiful. Has the face and head of an ameraucana but the tail feathers of an American gamefowl. Her brothers are GORGEOUS, and I hate that I have to part with them.

    Soooo there you have it. It all depends on who you talk to and what their experiences are with their own birds.

    I've stopped going out and looking for eggs. I keep telling myself I have a flock of duds so that when they DO finally lay, it'll be exciting. Right now, it's just frustrating. I was lied to by the people I bought my birds from regarding their ages, and we expected eggs almost 2 months ago! We were new to chickenkeeping and had no idea we were being lied to. We were told our birds were 3-4 months old when we purchased them. I thought they were kinda small, but not knowing much about chickens, I figured they must have a growth spurt or something. Lo and behold, 1 turned out to be only 10 weeks (the EE, sold to me as a "purebred ameraucana"), 3 turned out to be 6 weeks (barred rock, RIR, and leghorn), and one was about 5 weeks (welsummer). Now all the birds are 20+ weeks, have been here almost 15 weeks (it'll be 15 weeks this Saturday), and we got zip for eggs.

    I still have to go buy eggs. [​IMG]

    So I guess the simple answer is, they'll lay when they lay. [​IMG]

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