When Will My Chickens Start Laying Eggs?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 16 July 2020


Question: When do chickens start laying eggs?

Answer: Chickens lay as early as 16 weeks of age! The average hen starts to lay eggs at 18-24 weeks, but they can take up to 8 months to start laying. The breed of chicken determines when they start to lay, as well as the frequency & size of their eggs. 

So you’ve purchased your bevy of beautiful girls, got them safely housed in a comfy and cosy coop and are eagerly awaiting your first clutch of glorious eggs.

  • Day one - nothing as of yet.
  • Day two - still no sign, but we haven’t lost faith jee-ust yet.
  • Day three - ok, seriously- where are all my fresh eggs!?

Are my chicken’s sick? Should I demand a refund? Wait - when do chickens start laying eggs anyway?

Hen’s aren’t born laying eggs from day dot-  they have to wait until their body is mature enough to produce these little shells of goodness.

Here’s an approximate guide as to when your hens will start laying- but keep in mind that it differs from hen to hen.

Generally speaking, ‘pullets’ (young hens), will reach ‘point of lay’ (age at which they lay their first egg), between their 16th and 24th week of age. In some cases and breeds, it can be more, or less.

look for physical signs to tell if your hen is ready to lay

There are a number of indicators you will be able to see in your hens when they’re getting ready to lay!

  • The squat - when you reach down to pat your feathered friends, they will squat onto the ground- this is a sign your hens are about to lay.

  • Wattles and combs - have a look at your hen’s head - are their wattle and comb looking a bit redder, and slightly more swollen in size? Then they’re probably about to lay an egg!

  • Fully grown - the hen’s feathers will look shiny and clean, and their body will have reached full growth.

Another more hands on way to check whether your hens are about to lay is to check whether their pelvis bones have separated, or are in the process of. You can do this by gently placing your hands on the hen’s rear, feeling around for three prominent bones. If the bones are still close together, then your hen is probably a few weeks off laying yet - the egg watch continues! If they’ve separated, then the wait is almost over- eep!

Your hens will lay eggs when their body is ready - trying to stimulate egg-laying early in a hen who’s not physiologically equipped will cause them damage. If you want fresh eggs relatively fast, make sure that you ask for ‘point-of-lay’ hens when you’re buying them - this means they should start laying sooner rather than later!

If your hen doesn’t have a safe private place to lay her produce, then egg-production will definitely slump or cease to exist.  That’s why, if fresh eggs is the name of the game, you must have a coop with nesting boxes - otherwise you might be waiting for a while! All of our coops come fitted with enough nesting boxes to keep your flock laying egg-cellently.

Now that you know the signs to look out for, you can eggspect delicious homelaid eggs from your flock. This is one of the biggest benefits of keeping chickens. Nothing beats having home-laid eggs in the house for delicious meals and baking treats. However, in order to get a frequent, fresh supply of eggs, keepers need to look after the chickens that lay them. There can be multiple issues that are stopping your ladies from laying which is stressful for them and for you!

Don’t worry though – the eggsperts at Chickenpedia have cracked it! They have created the Eggs in Your Basket course to help you, help your ladies lay successfully. Discover crucial information to keep your chickens happy, healthy, and frequent layers. All your egg questions will be answered in this extensive course.

From double yolkers, to soft shells, no eggs, to odd eggs, Chickenpedia cover it all! Check out their great beginner-friendly courses today. 

Sources and further reading