Will young hens lay first eggs in winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mamahenAtlanta, Nov 3, 2014.

  1. mamahenAtlanta

    mamahenAtlanta Chirping

    Aug 11, 2014
    Atlanta, GA
    I have 5 hens--different breeds -- 16 weeks old. Some have very red face/combs but not squatting yet. Since it is coming on winter (in Georgia) and now pretty cold and dark earlier, can I expect a first egg sometime in the next couple months or is it likely to be in the spring? No artificial light in the coop, but considering that....... Also, they just finished the last of the grower feed and I bought some layer pellets. Should I keep them on the grower for a while longer or is it ok to start them on the layer--at 16 weeks?
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    I would suspect that they'll begin laying this winter. Most pullets lay through the winter their first year. But, they may wait until spring- it can be hard to tell.

    I would personally keep them on layer feed for at least the next two weeks. Then, start layer feed to help prepare them for laying.
  3. Fancypants1

    Fancypants1 Chirping

    Apr 2, 2014
    Central Massachusetts
    Keep them on grower/finisher until they lay their first egg. I just bought another 50lb bag of grower (my girls are 26 weeks old) and wouldn't you know it got our first egg this Monday. I am not going to buy layer food until I get 1/2 way thru the bag of grower and then mix the layer food in. I just put out a dish of poultry shells for the girl that is laying.

    Keeping them on grower will not harm the ones that are laying. 18 weeks seems early for them to start laying - keep them on grower.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’ve had pullets lay their first egg at 16 weeks. I’ve had pullets lay their first egg at 9 months. I’ve had pullets lay their first egg early December, the shortest days of the year with the days still getting shorter. I’ve had pullets wait until the longer days or spring to lay. There is just no way of knowing when they will actually start to lay but redder combs and wattles is a good sign. I don’t put much into them squatting. That’s submissive behavior as much as having anything to do with egg laying. It’s a good sign that they are maturing but I have had pullets not start laying until more than two months after they started squatting.

    There is a lot of debate on when to start Layer. The issue is the extra calcium. Does it harm chickens that are not laying? Different people have different opinions. Many people start it at 18 weeks or so and don’t see any problems. Some start it when the first pullet lays, even if the others are not laying. The issue is that excess calcium might harm a growing chick. Studies have shown that it often will. At some point the chick stops growing or at least slows down so the calcium is less likely to cause harm. Also it’s not how much calcium in one bite but how much total calcium does the chicken eat in one day. And one day isn’t that worrying. It’s how much do they average over a time period. It’s not an absolute yes or no question, but “depends”.

    Personally I feed either Starter or Grower year around with oyster shell on the side. It seems like I always have younger chickens in the flock so this system works well for me.
  5. Lizzydrippin

    Lizzydrippin In the Brooder

    Oct 11, 2014
    Cornwall, UK
    I have 5 young hens, they all started laying about 2 months ago, each laying an egg a day without fail. It's now 2nd January and for the last week or so I have only been getting 3 or 4 eggs a day. Is this the hens slowing down egg production for the winter? They all seem happy and healthy and are all on layer feed, oyster shell and grit and fresh water with Apple cider vinegar. They free range all day every day.

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