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How to Know When Your Chickens Will Start Laying Eggs

When will your chickens start laying eggs?

If you purchased or hatched chicks for the first time this spring you may be wondering when your chickens will start laying. One of the things that will drive any chicken owner crazy is waiting for your first egg. BUT how do you know when your chicken will start laying? The general rule of thumb is that chickens will start laying around 6 months old (22-28 weeks) is the norm, but there are some precocious breeds that start earlier. Even if your chickens start laying in the normal range that still leaves 1-2 months of uncertainty, *le sigh*. While, we can’t predict with perfect accuracy when your chicken will start laying here are some signs that you may get an egg in a week or two, which, for my inpatient heart is a step in the right direction.

Signs Your Chicken Will Start Laying Her First Egg

When will your chickens start laying eggs?

How Much Time Since Hatch?

Remember below are just estimates of when these different breeds of chickens will start laying. However, it does help to know if you have a late or early egg laying breed.

  • Buff Orpington: 24 Weeks
  • Barred Plymouth Rock: 20 Weeks
  • Easter Eggers: 20 Weeks
  • Cochin: 30 Weeks
  • Brahma: 30 Weeks
  • Favorelle: 23 Weeks
  • Silkie: 32 Weeks
  • Polish: 26 Weeks
  • Sussex: 22 Weeks

Your Chicken Should Be Fully Grown

After knowing about when your chicken breed might start laying, the first way to tell that your chicken might be ready to lay an egg is the way your chicken looks! Most chickens need to be fully grown to lay an egg. Seems like a no-brainer, except with my first flock I wasn’t sure what ‘fully grown’ looked like. Pullets may look as though they are grown with large sizes and lots of beautiful feathers. To tell if a hen is fully grown you will need to inspect the comb and wattles. These should be dark red (or blue, or black, or whatever color your chicken breed has). The comb and wattles need to be fully pigmented and swollen to final size. The chickens will have all their adult feathers and finally lost their terrifying teenage look. Unless you were our speckled Sussex. She started laying waaaay before she was done with wattles and feathers… If I hadn’t seen her laying myself I still wouldn’t believe our pullet was capable of laying while looking so teenagery still.

Difference between a pullet and laying hen
Can you see the subtle differences between a pullet and laying hen?

Squatting behavior

When your chicken is ready to lay her first egg she will often do a funny little squat when you come up to her. Before our pullets began to lay even the tame ones would kind of sidle away and dart around when we would approach to pet them. Then suddenly, a few of them would stop and drop when we went to pet them. A quick brush of the hand and they’ll fan their rumps in the air. Not to be chicken graphic, but this is what they would also do for a rooster. If you want to be a little less gross think about how a cat will stick its butt in the air when you pet them at the base of their tale… Same concept.

Being in the Nesting Boxes

Another good way to know when your chickens will start laying is to note who suddenly started showing interest in the nesting boxes. We had a new flock this year and made sure to fill up the nesting boxes around 20 weeks with straw. They hens took a look at the boxes and then promptly ignored them.

Side note: If you have a small coop beware, they can get in the habit of hanging out in the nesting boxes due to lack of room. This makes for gross nesting boxes and problems later.

Anyway, a couple of weeks after I filled the nesting boxes with straw, I noticed the Barred Plymouth Rock rooting around in the box. Sure enough, she was the first to lay. Our larger Welsummer was in the coop a lot checking the nesting boxes out recently and I caught her laying this week!

There are a couple other ways that aren’t quite as easy to tell if your chicken is going to start laying. But they still they are generally true for a lot of chickens.

Start Making a Bock-Bock Noise

Don’t you just love my scientific description of chicken noises :)? I’m pretty sure my three year old can do a better impression of a chicken.  That being said, chickens that are about to start laying will often be noisier. They will develop an egg laying bock-bock noise. It is hard to describe for first time chicken owners, but once you get accustomed to the sound you will know when they start practicing that noise. There are some breeds that a quieter than others like our cochins and brahmas but most chickens get pretty verbal around laying time.

Barred Plymouth Rock Pullet
Bock! Bock!

Chickens Become More Tame/Stand Ground

Some chickens are just not going to be squatters as mentioned above, but they all seems to settle down a bit when they are going to start laying eggs.. Generally speaking, chickens will also just lose some of their flightiness around laying time. Unless you are our Polish… That thing is always crazy. Chickens that are about to lay will just start to get more secure in their surroundings. Our layers will hold their ground when I open up the nesting boxes, even when they aren’t actively laying. They will come more when we called and just generally settle down and act like a mature, sensible chicken (again, minus our Polish). I have always assumed it was because they start to cement their adult pecking order and see us as the heads of the flock. Also, think about when you were a teenager (Crazy)… versus when you are an adult (sensible… Okay, less crazy).

All the above are pretty good signs to know when your chicken will start to lay, but also remember each chicken is an individual. We have two Welsummers that hatched at the same time. One had crop issues as a chick (we thought we might lose her at one point) and ended up smaller than the other Welsummer. She still hasn’t started laying and the other has been laying for over a week now.

Crazy polish chicken
Just a crazy, flighty Polish. But isn’t she fantastic?!

Early Laying Breeds

Finally, if you just can’t wait to get some eggs consider raising breeds start young.  Here is a quick list of young egg layers, that also happen to be good egg producing chickens.

  • Plymouth
  • Sussex
  • Easter Eggers
  • Orpingtons (though in our case our Oprington was sloooow to lay)
  • Australorps
  • Leghorns

We would love to hear when your different breeds started egg laying.  If we get enough comments then we can work on honing down our averages!

How to know when your chickens will start laying eggs

32 thoughts on “How to Know When Your Chickens Will Start Laying Eggs

  1. Hello, reading the comments I see that many people are having hens that are taking their sweet time to lay. Get them off of all Purina brand feeds. Including producers pride. Purina sold out to egglands best and you can find info that many farmers and other chicken owners were having their chickens no longer laying eggs after eating this feed or were in the situation many here are in. I had this problem. I had two golden comet hens who were going past expected egg laying age. A couple days after I changed their feed around (I use kalmbach layer crumbles) they both started laying within one day of each other. I now have an orpington hen who has laid two eggs in a row at 17 weeks and 3 days old. I don’t care what anyone says if it’s contrary to what I just said, from experience and others I have talked to, there is something going on with the feed. Make your own or go to the mom and pop feed shops and get anything but Purina. God bless.

  2. If you need your chickens to lay in the winter you need to place a light in their coop with a timer to go off around 8/9 pm.

  3. I ordered Buff Orpington day old chicks on March 11, 2021. Today is November 21, 2021. No eggs. Not one. The hens appear full grown and are confined to a coop & run. Any ideas how to encourage them to lay?

    1. They may have missed their window. As it gets darker and colder they will stop laying till next spring. Still it is very strange for them to not have laid at all. Any chance they are hiding the eggs? Pullets will often lay really weird places.

    2. When I discovered a couple of eggs laying in our chicken run, I bought ceramic eggs and placed them in the nest boxes to encourage laying there instead of the ground. Voila! It worked. No more eggs on the ground and all are nicely laid in the boxes.

  4. I have six buff Orpington ladies. One started laying at 4 months (wow!), the next at 4 and a half months, and the other four have still yet to have laid at 5 and a half months now. Hopefully they start soon. One of them was a runt and has many health troubles for 3 weeks as a baby chick. She is still the smallest though she is now in fine health. I’m guessing it will take her longer!

    1. Some chickens just have to be ‘extra’ :). I had a new olive egger lay like two eggs and then stop for the winter… *sigh*

  5. We have 2 Sapphire Splash, 1 Welsummer and 3 ISA Browns that we bought July 25, 2020. This is our first time raising chickens. 4 days ago we got our first small brown egg and every day the new egg gets a tiny bit larger. Reading this article I would guess that 1 of my Sapphires is the one laying. She will settle down, raise her butt up and let me pet her. The others still kind of scatter when I go in there. I’m guessing they were about a week old when we got them so this Saturday would make them 19 weeks old. Although our first egg was 4 day ago and that would put our first egg at 18 weeks.

  6. Hello! We have 12 chickens, 1 rooster, and 11 hens. We got most of them from Tractor Supply at 1 day old, hence the rooster, 4 ISA Browns, 3 Leghorns and 3 Americanas (Easter Eggers?), and then I got 2 Barred Rock pullets later, but they are all approximately 6 months old. We started getting eggs about a month or so ago, but only white and brown, and some sort of pink ones now and then, but only a light pink. I’m trying to decide if my ‘easter eggers’ are giving me that color, or if they haven’t started laying yet. The max number of eggs we get a day is usually about 9, 6 brown and up to 3 white, with the occasional brown one looking pinkish. We are first time chicken owners, so just trying to determine if I should keep hoping for some green or blue eggs?

    1. My americanas were slow to lay. Also as soon as the days get shorter they pretty much stop laying. You may have to wait till spring for the bluish eggs. With three I would be surprised if they were all doing pink (rare color for Americanas).

  7. My two sapphire gems laid one egg each today. They are 22 weeks old. They demonstrated exactly the things you mentioned in the article. Squatting when I petted them, intrested in the nesting boxes and their combs and waddles became amazingly red and large almost overnight.

  8. My buff Orpington are twenty weeks and so far nothing

    1. According to our records it took our Buff 23 weeks to lay. Each girl can be a little different but you aren’t past us yet!

      1. Our Buffs are 19 weeks and nada, zero, zilch. I don’t really care, but the hubby definitely does… lol

        1. Always hate the free-loaders. They will get around to it though. :)

      2. My Buff Orpington is 24 weeks and nothing (we have had her 21 weeks and she was at least 4 wks when we got her). My Americauna was 6 months end of June, nothing yet. Golden Laced Wyandotte is 8 months, nothing. 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte 6 months and nothing

        1. Some of my heritage breeds took a hot minute to lay. Like whyyyyy am I feeding you?! But once they get going they seem pretty reliable.

  9. Both of my White Plymouth Rocks started laying at 17 1/2 weeks!

    1. CONGRATS! Love when those eggs start rolling in.

  10. Hi
    I am a first time chicken mom and purchased day olds March 31. I have numerous birds and breeds. At 18 weeks to the day my Ameraucana began laying and has only skipped 1 day. I have 3 other ameraucana and 2 Easter eggers (pretty much same) that have not even been interested in the nesting boxes now at 20 weeks (None of my other breeds have either). I absolutely love being a chicken mom, (such sweet birds) and can’t wait for all my chickies to begin laying. Thanks for the article

    1. Some of them just take forever! I never thought the Svart Hona would start laying!

  11. Hi. Two of our Welsummers are 24 weeks old today and no egg laying signs. I hope they hurry up soon or they will be roasted! ?

    1. We have two welsummers and by my records they were some of the last to lay eggs. The next spring they hit the ground running with some lovely dark eggs. They are also my best foragers and will remove any small snakes or mice they come across.

      1. I’m still waiting ? they’ll be 28 weeks on Thursday. But great snake catchers ?

  12. Hi,
    Our Buff Orpington at 17 1/2 weeks old just started laying! She is the first of the flock of various breeds.

    1. Nice! Our buff was one the earliest of her group as well! The Welsummers took forevaaaah!

  13. Hi,
    I started 20 chicks of various breeds this May and just got the first egg at 21 weeks! It was one of the brown leghorns. I have both SC and Rose comb brown leghorns, cookoo marans, whiting true green, whiting true blue, and easter eggers. Can’t wait for more eggs!

    1. The first egg is always the best!

  14. We have 2 Easter Egger chickens one of them just laid this morning and she laid a total of 5 eggs I’m not sure if this is normal but we did get 5 eggs!! We are super excited about this!!

    1. I’mm not even sure how that is physically possible but wow! Congrats on your first eggs!

  15. Hi! I purchased my peeps on April 28th and was told they were about four days old. I just got my first egg yesterday and one again this morning! I’m so proud. That’s nearly three months old to the day. ?

    1. Some breeds start really young. I am so never that lucky! Congrats!

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