Are you curious about the egg-laying process in most chickens and when it usually happens? Then this article will give you some answers on when chickens start on their actual laying age.
The Egg-laying and Egg Production Process
Basically, the making and production of eggs in chicken start with the inside. This means that the inside of the egg will develop first before its outer part. Here’s a brief overview of the entire process:
- Also known as the ovum, the egg matures into the yolk. It will be contained inside a follicle. Expect the maturation to take place once the heat is eighteen weeks of age or more.
- Upon reaching full maturity, the egg gets released by the follicle. This also happens during the hen’s ovulation. The release typically happens for around thirty minutes.
- Once released, it moves to the reproductive tract, called oviduct, entrance. This is the spot where the egg will be fertilized.
- Note, though, that whether the egg gets fertilized or not, it will continue to travel through the oviduct. It is the part where the formation or production of egg white happens, which takes around three hours.
- Once the egg white is formed, the next thing that will happen is the passing of the egg through the uterus, the spot where shell formation takes place. It is the most tiring and the longest phase of the process as it takes around twenty to twenty-one hours.
- After that, expect your young hen to lay the first egg through what we call the cloaca, a kind of vent. Your hen’s uterus will then help in pushing out the egg smoothly.
Looking at the entire process, you may describe it as intense and lengthy. Despite that, most hens produce eggs naturally since it is already ingrained in them. You can even compare this process to fertilization as well as birth experienced by humans.
Factors that Affect When Chickens Start Laying Eggs
Young chickens typically start to lay eggs upon reaching around six months of age on average. Some also start early, like those that start laying eggs when they are still around sixteen to eighteen weeks of age.
Others also start a bit late at around twenty-eight to thirty-two weeks. This means that while there seem to be overachievers, in the sense that they start laying eggs too early, there are also late bloomers.
The most common answer to when chickens start laying eggs, though, is at around twenty to twenty-two weeks. It is important to note that a few factors can affect the time when chickens start laying eggs – among which are the following:
The breed of chicken is one of the major contributors in determining when it will start laying eggs and how often. There are breeds that tend to lay eggs more frequently compared to others. Among the different breeds known for laying eggs consistently and frequently are Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Barnevelders.
Of course, age also contributes to when chickens will start laying eggs. In most cases, it happens within their first five months of life. Egg production also often gets to its peak within the first eight to twelve weeks – after which, it will decline.
By around twelve months, there is a high chance for egg production to drop to sixty-five percent. Note, though, that there is a possibility for the weight of the egg to increase a bit.
The level of nutrition received by chickens also contributes to the process of laying eggs, especially in young hens. Sufficient levels of energy, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals all contribute to the efficient laying of eggs. In other words, healthy chickens tend to have more eggs laid and probably at an earlier or at the correct time.
One thing to note about chickens is that they need sufficient light to retain the proper circadian rhythm. It is vital for their reproductive cycle. It would be best to give them natural light but in the absence of that, you can also provide artificial light, which is often beneficial for industrially farmed and older hens.
Presence of an illness
Different parasites and diseases can also have a major impact on your hen’s or chicken’s ability to produce the first few eggs and the ones after. Expect healthy hens, those without any signs of illness, to lay more eggs.
They also have faster recovery in between each phase of when they started laying eggs. If you notice your hen stopping to lay eggs all of a sudden, it is a sign of an illness.
The season also has a major impact on the hatchability of a few hens. It can promote or lessen the production of chicken eggs. Typically, chickens or hens lay a higher number of eggs during the entire traditional spring breeding season.
When winter comes, there is a possibility for the egg production process to drop. This is the reason why you can see industrial farmers using room heating and heat lamps as a means of preventing such a problem when raising chickens.
Stress and pressure
It is important to note that hens and chickens are among those animals who are part of tight-knit social groups. Also, the laying and brooding process usually needs cooperation, which means that you have to socialize your chickens well within their group to optimize the production of eggs. Extreme stress and pressure can lessen the spawning.
Common Chicken Breeds and When They Usually Begin to Lay Eggs
In most cases, chickens are bred selectively for various reasons and purposes – among which are for eggs, show, and meat. Breeds that were selected for maximum egg production are known for their ability to produce more colorful eggs on a more frequent basis compared to chickens bred and cultivated for other reasons and purposes.
Given the right conditions, you can rely on a few breeds of chicken to lay around two hundred fifty to three hundred eggs per year. To give you an idea, here are the most common chicken breeds that are capable of egg production.
Leghorn chicken is beginner-friendly because it is not that difficult to care for. These are among those chicken breeds that can start laying eggs at around six months. They often produce medium to jumbo-sized white eggs.
Once they start producing eggs, you can expect to have an annual yield of around 250 eggs from them. This chicken breed is attractive and features white feathers and a red comb atop its head.
The Australorp is considered a dual-purpose chicken since you can selectively breed it for both meat and eggs. It is the most commonly bred chicken in the US because aside from its beautiful look, it also has excellent egg-laying capability and a nice temperament.
Expect this breed to start laying eggs at around five months. The eggs are often tinted or brown. Every year, the Australorp may be able to give 250 jumbo-sized ones.
Barred Plymouth Rock
This chicken is known as a free-range breed with the ability to lay up to 250 medium-sized and brown eggs every year. You will notice the hen of the barred Plymouth rock breed start laying eggs once they reach eighteen to twenty weeks.
Aside from being known as a prolific egg layer with its ability to produce 250 to 280 large and brown eggs every year, the Sussex is also famous for having a dual purpose. The reason is that you can also breed it for its delicious meat.
Rhode Island Red
This very famous chicken breed is ideal for those who love eggs and meat. What’s great about this breed is that it is easy and quick to care for because of its somewhat friendly and gentle nature.
The Rhode Island Red can lay eggs fast. It is even possible for it to give you around five medium-sized and brown ones weekly.
A native breed in Germany, the Hamburg chicken also boasts of its good yield as it has the ability to provide approximately 200 white and medium-sized eggs every year. This breed is also famous because of its attractive looks that also come with black dots integrated into its white feather background.
If you have no problems taking care of hybrid backyard chickens, then you can go for Golden Comets that are capable of laying up to 280 every year, around five laid eggs weekly. Most Golden Comet chickens start laying eggs quickly and they are easy to care for and look after.
How Genetics and Breeding Impact the Age of Laying Eggs?
There are still a lot more breeds of chicken aside from the ones mentioned above. It is important to note that the genetics and the breeding process of each one contribute to the specific age through which they start laying eggs.
In most cases, you can expect maximum and optimal production of high-quality eggs if there is a properly and closely controlled breeding program – one which puts more emphasis on favorable and beneficial genetic factors. Also, sex links can be expected to give the most productive layers of brown eggs.
The reason is that sex links are known for mixing two breeds that are highly productive. When breeding low-productive chicken with one that is highly productive, it is highly likely for the next generation to be not as productive compared to their parent who is highly productive.
However, if the cross is between two highly productive breeds, you will enjoy the result of the next generation. The reason is that it could be as productive, and sometimes, even more productive compared to their parents.
How Diet and Health Affect a Chicken’s Egg-laying Ability?
To optimize the egg-laying ability of chickens, you need to give them proper diet and nutrition. This is the key to helping them have the best health that will support their growing capabilities.
In general, the quality of nutrition of your chicken during the early weeks and months will significantly affect the total number of eggs they produce during their entire lifespan. In most cases, chickens with perfect growing conditions and a high-quality diet during their early weeks can outperform those with less sufficient nutrients.
This may happen even when both will eventually have similar food and housing. The reason is that the formative or early weeks of their lives are still considered the most important.
During the first few weeks after they get hatched, you should provide young pullets with high-quality starter crumble. Once that period is done, you can change their food into grower feed.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, the most important thing you have to make sure of is that the chicken feed that your chickens are eating gives them sufficient amounts of protein. It should also contain all the nutrients necessary in the early stages and weeks of life.
Once the chickens are already mature and old enough that they can begin laying eggs, proceed to a high-quality complete layer feed. It also helps to allow these mature hens to forage for worms and bugs as those are also crucial for their health.
These worms and bugs are even capable of boosting the nutrition profile of the eggs provided by your chickens once they begin to lay eggs. In addition to giving them nutritious foods and a well-balanced diet, ensure that they also receive proper veterinary care.
All these can improve the overall health of your chicken, further boosting its ability to give high-quality eggs at the right time.
How Season and Lighting Affects Chicken Egg Production?
The season’s timing also has a say on when your chickens start laying eggs. Some breeds can produce eggs the entire year while others tend to stop during specific times of the year. Generally, the winter season and the month of December are among the specific times when most breeds stop laying eggs.
The reason is that the cold seasons are the perfect times to raise chickens. The bodies of hens recognize that particular season, which is why they also stop producing eggs. Molting, the process that chickens go through when they shed old feathers, also tends to lessen their ability to lay eggs.
The reason is that their bodies no longer just focus on egg production. They also have to focus on the process of growing new feathers, which takes around one to two months.
Another thing to take note of is that chickens begin to lay eggs at various temperatures. If you notice that your hens do not lay eggs, even if they did so before, you should check their coop temperature. Find out whether the temperature there is too low.
Note that the problem could be the temperature if you already ruled out molting and broodiness when it comes to why your chickens can’t lay eggs. Make sure to seal the chicken coop securely and find out large gaps resulting from rotting wood that you have to patch up.
Another way to fix this problem is to add additional bedding and nesting boxes. You also have to bend the topmost part of your chicken coop. A lot of chickens will also do fine even if you do not heat their coops.
However, in several cases, this can cause a problem. This is the reason why you have to properly control the coop’s temperature. By doing that, you can increase the chance of laying eggs.
How About Light?
Proper exposure to light is also important in the life of your chickens. Note that the frequency through which a hen can lay eggs depends greatly on the amount of light they specifically receive.
The hormones required in egg production respond positively to light. Generally, hens require a minimum of fourteen hours of light daily so they can lay and produce eggs. When the winter season comes, the number of hours of light received by chickens will most likely decrease, which may also negatively affect egg production.
To prevent that from happening, you can use artificial light. This serves as a supplemental light, which will give your chickens the amount of light they need, which is often naturally provided during the warmer months.
Some Safety Precautions When Working with Chickens
- Provide chickens with nesting boxes – It could also be any other spot that they can easily access when they need to lay an egg. Ensure that the area or nesting boxes are clean and have sufficient bedding, too.
- Provide artificial light – Give this to your hen or chicken during the early hours of the morning to support egg production.
- Monitor and reevaluate everything that you feed to your hen – It is advisable to go for good complete layer feed type.
- Provide them with a source of extra calcium – An example is an oyster shell. These sources of extra calcium are crucial in forming the shell, which is considered the most strenuous and longest phase of the process.
- Keep your hens and chickens safe and protected from the weather – Their shelter or nesting box should be warm and safe and has adequate protection from the harsh elements.
- Prevent predators from entering their shelter/nesting box – This is to protect your chicken and prevent them from harboring fear because of the potential predators. This is crucial to ensure that there will be no disruption, especially once your chickens start laying eggs in their nesting boxes.
With the content of this article, you may have already known by now that there are different factors that contribute to when chickens start laying eggs. To recap, the factors affecting egg production and the proper timing are the breed and age of chicken, nutrition, stress and pressure they experience, and the presence of an illness.
The season and lighting also contribute to growing healthy chickens that also encourage egg laying at the right time. With that said, you really have to keep track of their nutrition, health condition, as well as the lighting they receive, to ensure that the laying hens and chickens keep on providing eggs at their optimal age.
To further help you in caring for chickens and providing them with optimal conditions for them to start to lay eggs, you may want to gather more information using these reliable sources.