When will I get eggs?


In the Brooder
7 Years
Jul 24, 2012
two of my pullets just turned 6 months ( a buff Orp and a EE). I have not seen any eggs yet. How can I tell if they have started? Will they put it off until the spring? I let them free range and want to finish the bag of grower feed so I put some oyster shell in a separate feeder just in case. All 3 chickens started eating it. Does this mean anything? Thanks for your input guys :)
It's impossible to say when they will start. Each chicken is an individual. I've had some start at 16 weeks. I have some hatched April2 this year that have not started yet. Heredity has a lot to do with it. If you know the age the flock they came from usually starts, you can get a fairly good clue. But even that is not a guarantee, just a clue.

Will they put it off until spring? Maybe, maybe not. I had some that started laying early December last year while the days were about as short as they get. They were about 5 months old. But a few of that group waited until February when the days started getting noticeably longer. I do not use light to extend the length of daylight.

I keep oyster shell on the side and feed grower when I have a mixed age flock. The ones not laying will sometimes eat some oyster shell. They don't eat a lot, not enough to hurt them, but they will experiment with it. The ones laying eat a lot more.

How can you tell if they have started? If they are free ranging, it is possible they are hiding a nest from you or that something is eating the eggs. When a hen is laying or getting ready to start, her vent is large, damp, and soft. If you look at the vents and they are tight and dry, they are not laying. Looking at the vent is not a guarantee they are actually laying but you can get a pretty good idea if they are close to starting.

Most wild animals will not eat every egg that is laid every day. It's possible but that's not a normal pattern. If every egg is disappearing every day, I first suspect a family dog that has learned where to get a snack or a human. You might try putting an egg out there and see if it disappears. Warm it up to outside temperature first.

You can lock the hens in the coop for a couple of days and see if you get any eggs. That does not tell you if they are hiding a nest or if something is eating them but at least you would know they are laying.
Good luck!
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I know how frustrating it is to be waiting for them to start. I've had some start around 19 weeks, 22 weeks and 26 weeks. But the longest one was my AC - she waited until she was 55 weeks old! I was just about to give up on her when she laid her 1st egg. I did all the tricks in the book - fake eggs, alfalfa, pepper, checking vent, seeing if she'd squat, watching her comb, watching her with the rooster who kept mating her, layer feed with oyster shell, etc. Nothing was working. It just took time for her.

Here's her story https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/623292/come-on-ac-we-want-some-eggs hopefully it won't be yours as well.

Hope you get your eggs soon!
Thanks guys!

Ridge runner, I am also refraining from using any supplemental lighting on my chickens. I think they will appreciate it and not burn them out. I purchased all 3 of them this summer and they have become a joy for me. I am just excited for the eggs. Right now they are eating and doing whatever they want in the backyard. I actually don't mind this since a bag of chicken food costs less and lasts longer than my dogs food.

Bobbieschicks: I enjoyed the story. I am definitely thinking they will wait until spring but I hope not :)
Until 2 weeks ago I was doing the same thing...waiting and waiting and waiting. My pullets were somewhere around 7 months, and still had not laid a single egg. After reading a little bit on BYC, it was suggested that I try placing a couple of store bought eggs in their nesting box. I thought that sounded a little silly, but I was so desperate at this point that I was willing to try anything. Within a week, 2 of my 4 pullets were laying, and within the last couple of days the other two have begun laying as well. I don't know that there is any scientific proof for why this works, but it seemed to give them the right idea. I am now getting 3-4 eggs per day.

I think something else that contributed to my lack of laying was the fact the some of mine were sleeping in their nesting boxes. Make sure that they have a good perch to sleep on.
Side note: my chickens combs and wattles are no where near the size of hens the same age via pictures on here. Maybe they are younger than I think? They just barely started developing wattles

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