when do free range hens start laying?

TeaChick

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May 5, 2013
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I have RIRs, white hens (I think they're white leghorns, but IDK), and 1 frizzle bantham cochin. I'm not holding my breath for the bantham eggs, but my husband is joking about chicken nuggets and chicken a la king.
I see ppl posting on here that their 14 week old RIRs are laying, but I assume they're feeding egg-a-day (or something of the sort). I free range and feed chicken scraps. I've been cooping them up for two or three days at a time (and feeding them significantly more, they like dog food and grits, as well as their apple cores and such).... Anyway, I let them out for a day after being cooped for two or three (never more than three).
Oh, this is getting long.

Short version: I have six month old hens, no rooster, they're RIR and white leghorn (not positive about the leghorn); I free range them usually, but I want them to lay in the coop (not the woods), so when are they going to start laying????
 

BantamFan4Life

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They should be laying any day now. It's possible the hens aren't laying in the nesting box so you need to get them to lay in there. You could get a golf ball, a wooden egg, or plastic egg and put it in the nesting box. When you do that they think another hen laid there and they should too. Then, if there laying, you'll suddenly start getting eggs :)
 

ChickensRDinos

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Aug 19, 2012
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14 weeks is really young to lay. It happens but its not the norm. 6 months is a really good average but anywhere from 4-8 months is still in the normal range. Look for your birds waddles and combs to turn a brighter red and fill out more. Also watch for the to start squatting when you approach (this does not happen with all birds). If you are seeing these things then they should be laying soon. If you have been seeing them for a long time I would start looking for hidden nests.
 

TeaChick

Crowing
7 Years
May 5, 2013
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Deep South
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My Coop
They should be laying any day now. It's possible the hens aren't laying in the nesting box so you need to get them to lay in there. You could get a golf ball, a wooden egg, or plastic egg and put it in the nesting box. When you do that they think another hen laid there and they should too. Then, if there laying, you'll suddenly start getting eggs :)
I put pine shavings in my 5 "nesting boxes" (they're really just large nursery pots) and my son even donated half a dozen golf balls. They're buried in the half of the pine shavings that's left in the pots. I've been hesitant to put more shavings in them and put the balls on top, b/c I thought the smell might bother them or something.

I've been keeping them in the coop for two or three days at a time and letting them out for one. Obviously, I've been feeding them in the coop.

Should I just let them free range all the time and then coop them up when I know they're laying??? I don't want to miss their first eggs and I don't want to lose any eggs (unless it's absolutely unavoidable).
IDK

I'm sorry this is so long. :(
 

TeaChick

Crowing
7 Years
May 5, 2013
5,748
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Deep South
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14 weeks is really young to lay. It happens but its not the norm. 6 months is a really good average but anywhere from 4-8 months is still in the normal range. Look for your birds waddles and combs to turn a brighter red and fill out more. Also watch for the to start squatting when you approach (this does not happen with all birds). If you are seeing these things then they should be laying soon. If you have been seeing them for a long time I would start looking for hidden nests.
Thanks!!! I'll take a look at their combs and waddles. I guess I'll know "squatting" when I see it.
Would you say I could stop keeping them in the coop until I start seeing these signs?
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
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Los Angeles
I probably would but its completely up to you. In theory if they feel safe in their house they should want to go back there to lay eggs, Of course that doesn't always happen but it likely will.
 

TeaChick

Crowing
7 Years
May 5, 2013
5,748
212
326
Deep South
My Coop
My Coop
I probably would but its completely up to you. In theory if they feel safe in their house they should want to go back there to lay eggs, Of course that doesn't always happen but it likely will.
highfive.gif

Thanks! They'll be happy to hear that. lol
D.gif
 

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