We have all heard of at least one or two chicken riddles. An example of one that is well known worldwide is, why did the chicken cross the road? Or which came first, the chicken or the egg? Another one seems to have joined the clutch. The, when do chickens start laying eggs? the major difference being that this one is not a riddle as an exact answer does exist.
Egg production is a lucrative business worldwide. Chicken is the most common domesticated animal with humans keeping them primarily for both their meat and eggs. As of 2011, their total global population stood at 19 billion, which is almost three times as much as the current human population.
When it comes to chickens laying eggs, the period they take varies. Although most people claim that the average time is six months, this has been seen to be relative. It could range from anywhere between four to eight months.
In the egg laying industry, pullet is a term used to refer to chickens around the age of 15 -22 weeks. This is the standard age for when chickens start laying eggs. A healthy chicken should be able to lay an egg daily, missing some days in between.
There are four factors that you should consider when you want your chicken to lay high-quality eggs;
This is the most important factor to consider.
Larger chickens heavier in weight like Wyandotte, Plymouth Rocks, and Orrington will lay their eggs way later than the average age (about eight months) while lighter ones such as Leghorns, Stars and Austalorps will start laying their eggs much sooner than their counterparts (about four months).
Therefore, the larger your chicken, the longer the wait time and the smaller your chicken breed, the shorter the wait time.
What you feed your chicks from the moment you get them is important. To nurture your chicken to start laying healthy eggs as planned, nutrition is vital. Without this, your chickens’ health, as well as that of their eggs, will be compromised. The key components of a proper diet for a chicken is;
b. Layer Chicken Feed
c. Oyster Shell
A combination of these three feeds ensures that your chickens get the essential nutrients like calcium. Ensure your stored feed does not last more than two months. Don’t forget to give them a constant supply of water.
Where you keep your chickens, the chicken coop is as important as the two factors above. Chickens need proper feeding, laying and roosting space so as to keep them comfortable, secure, healthy and productive. A good rule of thumb to use when setting up your chicken coop is three to four square feet for every large chicken.
Chickens dislike getting wet. So ensure that they have a dry area for them to rest in and also protect themselves when it is raining outside.
Ensure your chicken coop is well ventilated, well spaced out and clean for efficient egg production.
In addition to all the above, it is important to know that chickens need at least 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. Without this, their egg laying capacity is limited.
What season your chicken come into maturity also plays a significant role. When they mature and are ready to lay eggs during the cold and dark season, they will sometimes not start laying eggs until the spring season.
Some farmers use artificial lighting in the coops to keep the chicken productive all throughout the cold seasons.
There are many ways to know whether or not your chicken is about to start laying eggs. Signs that you can watch out for and will typically observe with your chicken include;
1. Redding Chicken Comb
Many chicken farmers attest to regularly checking the chicken’s comb. The comb is the fleshy area on top of your chicken’s head. As soon as you notice your chicken’s comb is turning red, you will not have to wait too long before your chicken starts laying eggs.
2. Making their Nest
When your chickens are ready to start laying eggs, you will find them making their nests. If you observe carefully, you will see them moving things around the farm and getting very comfortable in their boxes. This sort of behavior suggests that they are preparing to start laying eggs.
3. Chicken Squat
Usually, when you approach a chicken, they would scurry away off to their business. But when the time to lay eggs comes, the case is entirely different. This time round when approached, they squat down when you pet them. This is a submissive action they tend to do for their roosters.
Finally, your chickens have started laying eggs and you couldn’t be more excited. But now you are worried that they will stop faster than they started. This could be due to inevitable chicken changes or weather changes. Not to worry, there are a few things you can do to prevent this.
1. Countering molting
Molting is a natural body process for chickens where once a year they will lose all of their feathers and later grow new ones. It could be a slow unnoticeable thing or a sudden obvious change. Imagine going completely bald once a year, that’s how stressful it can get for chicken during molting. As a result, they usually stop laying eggs. This period usually lasts for about two months.
To counter this perceived downtime in your farm’s egg production, ensure you provide your chicken with necessary vitamins to decrease the total molting time for your chicken.
Exercise is crucial for chickens as overweight ones tend to be unhealthy. This often results in the chicken getting complications when laying eggs. So make sure your chicken are constantly active and not just cooped up in their coop.
3. Protection Against Extreme Weather
Chickens are highly susceptible to extreme weather elements. They don’t do well in extremely high or low temperatures. If you are ever faced with extreme weather conditions that are out of your control ensure in hot weather; the coop is ventilated and that they have fresh food and plenty water, and in the cold weather; the coop is dry and sealed well and also use heat lamps.
It is important to do all that is necessary to protect them, after all, they are an investment that will keep on giving back.
After about 12 months, a chicken’s ability to lay eggs starts drastically declining. It reaches a point where their eggs are not market viable. When they reach this level, their life expectancy has reduced to about two years from a high of seven.
The older the chicken get, the larger but fewer the eggs get. Once you get to this level, you could decide to stick with the chicken until they die or you could painlessly put them down. The older and the more productive the chicken has been, the tougher their meat tends to be for consumption. The older chickens, when used for meat are much better stewed than in the frying pan.
If you have never seen a chicken laying an egg this video below is terrific! It could be a little disgusting to some folks but to country raised folk it is just normal stuff! Enjoy!
To specify, when do chickens start laying eggs? Broadly speaking it takes an average of 16-20 weeks for a chicken to start laying eggs. While this is a general timeline, this greatly varies. So if your chicken doesn’t start laying eggs within this timeline, don’t give up instead provide them with adequate food and shelter and give them time to do what they do best, lay eggs.
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