Signs of Chickens Laying Eggs

Written by shannon stoney
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Signs of Chickens Laying Eggs
A chicken lays about one egg a day. (Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

These days, more and more people are raising chickens, partly because chickens are great pets, but also because they lay eggs. Even if you don't have a rooster, your pet chicken will lay an average of an egg a day in season. With some practice, you can tell when she's about to lay an egg.

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When to Start Expecting Eggs

When your pullets reach the age of about 4 to 5 months, depending on the breed, you can expect them to start laying eggs. Many people buy baby chicks in spring. These pullets will start laying some time in the summer.

Signs of Readiness to Lay

When your pullets are old enough, they may begin to look different. For example, a hen that is ready to lay may have a redder comb and wattle than she did before. She may also display nesting behaviours, investigating the nest boxes in the hen house, or looking for places to nest under bushes. At this time, make sure you have a cosy nest box for your hen, and put some straw in it for comfort. She will want a soft place to sit while waiting for the egg. When hens are ready to lay, they also may sing in the morning. Their clucking will have a musical sound that is quite pleasant.

Laying an Egg

When a hen is ready to lay, she will settle into her nest box sometimes 30 minutes or so before laying. She will be quiet and may even seem to be napping. The egg-laying process itself takes about 30 seconds, as the egg emerges from the cloaca under the hen's tail. She may spread her feathers a bit as this process continues. When the egg finally pops out, the hen usually stands up.

Announcing the Egg

After a hen lays an egg, she will begin to cluck loudly, as if to announce to the world that she has laid an egg. During this time, she will walk around, away from the egg. According to Wiebe van der Molen, an expert on chicken behaviour, this behaviour evolved as a way for the hen to find the rest of the flock, assuming it wandered away while the hen was laying her egg.

Brooding

The hen will continue to add an egg a day to her nest. If none are removed, eventually she will begin to set on the eggs to keep them warm and to incubate them. If you remove the eggs, however, she will keep laying, because she will think there are not enough eggs yet to begin brooding.

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