Getting Ready For Eggs!

Summer is just around the corner and your spring chicks are approaching puberty, which means you can anticipate the arrival of eggs soon! Assuming they’ve enjoyed good food and care, the young hens, called pullets, begin laying sometime between their 16th and 24th week of age.

Discovering a hen’s first egg from your own hand-raised chicks is a thrill. Pullet eggs are tiny and look like gems in the nest. Although the first eggs your birds lay may be small, irregularly shaped and/or inconsistent, don’t panic! The eggs should norm out over time in size and frequency.

If your pullets are over 16 weeks of age, now is the time to switch them to a layer feed, as laying hens need special nutrition. Producing eggs places great nutritional strain on a hen’s body. Just think of the calcium she is giving up each time she lays an egg! Look for a layer feed that has the minerals, vitamins, protein and other nutrients needed to help keep your birds healthy and productive. Now would also be a good time to supplement calcium by putting oyster shell out or sprinkling it on the coop floor for hens to discover and eat.

Are your pullets ready to lay eggs? Here’s how to tell:

  • Chickens will be between 16-24 weeks old
  • Pullets look full grown with clean, new feathers
  • Combs and wattles have swollen and are a deep red color
  • Bones in the hen’s pelvis will begin to separate.

To check if the hen’s pelvis bones have begun to separate, cradle the hen between your side and arm with the hen facing your back so you see its rear end. Carefully hold the bird’s feet so it can’t kick. Place your other hand gently on the hen’s rear end. If three prominent bones are close together, don’t expect eggs for a few more weeks, but if the bones have separated, expect eggs soon!

Pullets like to lay eggs in privacy, and it’s important to have nest boxes in place before the first egg arrives. These can be purchased or made of lumber and should be approximately 10-12 inches square and about 18-inches deep. Install one nest box for every two to three hens and place them from one to three feet above the floor. Line the nests with straw, dried grass, wood chips or even shredded paper to help keep the eggs clean.

In no time at all, you’ll have an abundance of eggs – right from your own backyard!

6 Replies to “Getting Ready For Eggs!”

  1. I have a question and need some advice! I have three adult chickens that I got from another farm and are now are my place. When I first brought them home the first week they continued to lay but as the week passed they all did not lay an egg every day and by the next week they had completely stopped. This was Mid April when I brought them home. That second week they were at my place it snowed and it snowed the 3rd week also. They are still not laying. Can someone tell me what to do??? Why and when will they start to lay again? Thanks!

    1. Julie,
      Often it will take a while for the birds to get adjusted and get back into the routine of laying. I would give them some more time, especially considering the extreme weather you’ve had. Make sure they are getting plenty of water, a balanced diet and have a safe and secure place to lay their egg. Good luck!

  2. I would like to say that my ladies are starting to lay and the first eggs were tiny and cream color but they r getting bigger and darker it was so exciting to find the eggs almost as fun as easter

  3. Hey everyone, I have a question about the nutrition of Pullet Eggs.

    Since the Bird is still young do they have a lot less nutrition then a full-grown, older bird(s)?

    That was my main question but please feel free to add anything about the nutrition of pullet eggs compared to “regular” full grown eggs.

    Thanks in advance!

  4. what is a “blowout”? Is it a condition that young hens get when they’re too
    young to lay an egg?

    1. Hi – young hens that are not ready to lay can be one cause of “blowouts”, also commonly referred to as a prolapse. Other causes can be aging hens, overweight hens, and lack of calcium in the diet. Some breeds are more prone to blowouts than others (think those bred specifically to lay very large eggs). Hope this helps!

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