When a well-groomed hen begins to lay, she will do so regularly every 24-27 hours (provided she gets enough light). To know when she is going to lay her first egg, you need to watch for physical signs that prove she is mature as well as changes in behavior that indicate that she is ready. However, if she stops laying eggs, it may mean that she is getting too old to continue. In addition, you should watch out for signs of illness or malnutrition.
Method 1 of 3: Watch out for physical signs
Step 1. Take into account his age
Also, see if she is mature enough to start laying eggs. Generally, the age of the first laying of hens varies greatly depending on their breed. For example, some start after they are 16 weeks old while it takes up to about 16 months to see the first eggs in others. Whether or not you know the age at which your hen's breed begins to lay eggs, ask yourself if it appears to have reached full maturity.
- In case you have another adult hen, you can compare their size, appearance, and bone structure. Usually, a hen that looks more mature is ready to lay.
- When she is ready to lay, you may notice a rapid increase in her height and weight, especially in the abdominal area.
Step 2. Check to see if its ridge, wattles, and vent are getting bigger
Also, see if they are more red. A hen that has not yet reached full maturity will have a small crest (above its head) and wattles (the fleshy growth under the beak) that are dull in color. However, when she is mature, that is, having reached the age to start laying eggs, these growths will grow larger and will be bright red.
Likewise, the cloaca, which is the opening from which the eggs are released along with the excrement and urine, will be redder and larger. In addition, it is likely to be wet and not dry (as is the case with immature hens)
Step 3. Check to see if her pelvic bones are wide apart
In other words, you need to determine if his hindquarters are wide. Lift her up and place her against your chest so that the end of her tail is facing forward. Then, with one hand, hold its paws and with the second, try to feel its hindquarters. If you don't feel that there are three distinct bones spread apart from each other, know that she is not yet ready to lay.
If the spacing between the three pelvic bones (ilium, ischium, and pubis) is as wide as three of your fingers, it's likely it's ready
Step 4. See if the space between the pelvic bones and the breastbone has increased
Besides the fact that the space between the 3 pelvic bones will increase, the space between the pelvic bones and the breastbone (extension of the sternum) will also increase when the hen is ready to start laying. You may notice the increase in the gap visually, and you may be able to feel it when you go to lift the hen.
Also, the abdominal region between the pelvic bones and the breastbone is likely to become larger and softer (due to increased fat)
Method 2 of 3: Observe changes in behavior
Step 1. See if she tends to squat often
In fact, it indicates a willingness to mate. Place a hand just above it on its back without touching it. If she crouches, that is, if she curls up with her wings and legs a little more apart, know that she is ready to begin laying.
- Hens often adopt this posture when mating with a rooster. However, they also do this when they are ready to lay eggs, even when there are no roosters around.
- You will need a rooster to mate her only if you fancy raising chickens. In other words, the eggs she is going to lay will not be fertilized if she is not mated by a rooster.
Step 2. See if she begins to prepare the area where she will lay eggs
If you've built a birdhouse for her, she'll start spending more time in it and rearranging bedding materials (wood chips, straw, etc.) as she pleases when the time is right. If your hens are on the loose, expect a hen to identify an isolated area and then start digging and collecting materials to create the area where she will lay eggs.
You have the option of building a birdhouse from various materials, such as old wooden drawers. However, make sure it is 30 x 30 x 30cm or a little bigger. You don't necessarily need to have a crate for each hen. The important thing is that it can accommodate at least two or three hens
Step 3. Prepare to see the first egg
Prepare to see it when it settles in its nest. When she is ready to lay her first egg, she will lie down in the nest she has made in the nest box she has chosen. You may notice that she makes an effort every now and then and that she cackles or squeals. Most likely you will see an egg in the nest the next day!
- This first egg, and possibly subsequent ones, may be small or misshapen. However, be aware that the shape and size will be more consistent over time.
- When she begins to lay, she will lay eggs again every 24-27 hours during the laying season.
- If she stays on the nest for two to three days and doesn't lay eggs, call a veterinarian. She may have egg retention and may need medical help.
Method 3 of 3: Determine the reasons why a hen is not laying eggs
Step 1. Determine if it receives between 12 and 16 hours of light per day
In the wild, hens no longer lay eggs when they have less than 12 hours of light per day. They will start again when they receive more than 12 hours of light per day and will produce a new egg every 24 to 27 hours.
- If you want a more natural approach, wait a few months when the days are longer and the hen will start laying again. Depending on the seasonal changes in daylight you live in, hens typically take a 3-4 month break.
- However, you have the option of ensuring that your hens continue to lay all year round by increasing the daylight with artificial light. By installing a 60 watt (or equivalent) incandescent bulb in the coop, the hens can continue to lay. Set a timer to make sure she gets 14 to 16 hours of light. In fact, the bulb does not have to be on all day.
Step 2. Don't expect to see eggs if she is already between 3 and 4 years old
Hens can live between five and ten years, but after about three or four years their egg production will decrease and stop. As the time approaches, the eggs are going to be rarer and also smaller or misshapen.
At this point, some choose to eat the chickens, but you also have the option of keeping them just because the hens tend to become more docile and friendly at this time
Step 3. Look for physical signs that she will no longer lay eggs
When it reaches the period when it will no longer be able to lay eggs, its crest and wattles lose their bright red. Also, the cesspool will lose its color and will become smaller and less humid. In addition, the spacing between the pubic bones and the breast bone as well as the spacing between the three bones of the pelvis will decrease.
- Basically, she will regain the appearance she had before she started laying eggs.
- Also, she will probably stop nesting and crouching.
Step 4. Evaluate if she is well nourished and healthy
Do this if she is old enough to lay eggs. If she's in the right age group, getting enough daylight, showing physical and behavioral signs that indicate she wants to lay, you should see her eggs. If not, find out what could be causing the problem and see a vet if necessary. Common problems are as follows.
- The hen does not have access to clean, fresh water at all times. Check if your water distribution system is having problems.
- The hen is not eating enough or receiving nutrients. Switch to a good quality food and be sure to seek advice from a veterinarian.
- The hen is infested with parasites or is sick. Usually, sick hens lay less eggs and eventually quit altogether. Call a healthcare professional.
- Sometimes the hens will cackle loudly after they have finished laying.
- You have the option of using a cardboard box or dog house as a temporary nesting box.