The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

When will my chickens lay eggs?

three eggs todayEven though I know that egg laying is unpredictable at this time of year, it’s always a bit disappointing when I lift the lid of the nesting box and there’s only one. An egg from Carol. She is firing on all cylinders now and producing one egg a day, the maximum that a domestic hen can produce.
“What’s going on with the other four chickens?” I think as I stump back through the garden in my dressing gown and wellies.

The other four chickens are elderly maidens, well into their third year. I know that after two years egg production diminishes but somehow I hoped that the organic food and beautiful adornments in the pen might make a difference. Of course they don’t. As the years roll by, the chickens will produce fewer and fewer eggs until they go to that great pecking ground in the sky.

The pretty white bantams, have never been very obliging on the egg laying front. In their prime, they probably only laid two or three eggs a week. They are not a laying strain and we knew this when we bought them. But we have discovered that they are very photogenic and are happy to model endlessly.

I’ve been checking the hen’s combs. A pink comb indicates that a chicken is going broody, and will not lay. They are all a bright vibrant red, including Mrs Boss (this chicken won The Broodiest of all Known Chickens Award 2004, 2005 and 2006).

So you can imagine my delight when I lifted the roof of the nesting box this morning and found two small eggs nestling beside Carol’s large speckled brown one. I sprang back to the kitchen to make the perfect breakfast omelette.

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  1. why are they not laying? tell meeeeee

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Charlie,

    I wrote this post back in February. A chilly time of year for our elderly flock. As they are mostly past there egg laying prime we don’t expect them to lay an egg a day.

    Now it’s September (2007). Mrs Squeaky is still laying but the rest of the flock are moulting and resting. A couple might come into lay again before the first frosts set them off lay again. Who knows.

    They are pets and all, with the exception of Carol, are not laying breeds. They will live here until they go to that great pasture in the sky. We love them more than the eggs, which are a bonus when they arrive.

    How are your hens doing?

  3. how do i get my hens to lay eggs they are about 18 to 20 weeks old i have them on laying ration do i need a heat lamp?

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Taryn,

    Unfortunately your hens were too young to lay before the days started to shorten. If it was high summer, they should be coming into lay about now. If you want them to live in a natural environment (no artificial lights etc) they probably will not lay until the days start getting longer (December 22nd). This happened to us in our first year. We got our first eggs in January.

    However, if you want to force your hens to lay sooner you can use artificial lighting. I have found two informative articles in the internet (I am sure that there must be thousands of relevant articles out there) that may help.

    Personally, I would avoid using artificial light to encourage egg production in a domestic environment. Fresh eggs are great, but our chickens and guinea fowl are pets, not egg laying machines.

  5. madison kraft

    I’m worried because I am trying to breed my silky hens to my roster and they will not lay I’m hoping someone can help I have a deadline for there chicks
    so please help me

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Madison,

    If you chickens are not laying you can’t force them too. All chickens go off lay at some time during the winter. They should start laying about 10 days after the shortest day (December 21st) if they are a high laying breed. Unless you have an incubator you will also need a broody hen. This is rare in the winter months.

    Silkies are bantams and might take much longer to start laying again. Only our layers start laying eggs in January. Our bantams take their time.

    If there is a deadline it might be an idea to go to a professional chicken breeder. If they can’t help by providing fertilised eggs or chicks they will be able to advise you.

  7. I too am having a problem with my hens not laying eggs. To make the matter worse my friend who gave me the hens from a large order she had placed is getting eggs from them.
    What am I doing wrong? I’m using the same feed as her and check them twice a day. HELP!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jeanne

    Not all chickens mature and lay eggs at the same time. It’s sods law that your chickens are not laying when your friend’s have started to lay.

    I don’t think that you are doing anything wrong. You just have to be patient.

  9. You were right. The day after I contacted you I got 2 eggs. The next day it was 1 egg. Since then I have gotten at least 2 eggs a day. I’m waiting for the day I get 6 as that is how many little girls I have. Until then, I am thrilled to death with whatever they give me. I just needed to be patient a little longer.
    Thank you.

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jeanne

    This is good news! Thanks for the update.

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