Age for laying
by John T. Lewis
(Little Mountain, S.C.)
Age for laying: We have had these chickens for about 8 months and still have no eggs. What is the laying age for barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds?
Most pullets (yearling hens) will begin laying eggs by about 6 months of age, depending on the time of year.
During the fall, when molting and growing new feathers, egg production will often stop, until feathers are grown in.
Egg production is stimulated by sunshine. In climates that experience little winter sunshine, often egg production is held off, or slowed, until sunnier weather and seems to peak near the end of summer.
Remember chickens lay eggs for the purpose of hatching. Chicks hatching in the cold of winter would have a hard time staying warm and thriving, so this is not a peak egg laying period.
Genetically speaking, Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are good laying breeds, but some are bred for show and others for production.
Show bred birds have been selectively bred for body type, color, and good looks. Production birds have been selectively bred to produce lots of good eggs.
If your girls are from show blood lines, they might start out more slowly and may not make good mothers. But they should start laying soon, if they haven’t already.
Hens require a good source of calcium to produce eggs as well as a good balance of protein and fat in their diet.
A good “layer” feed provides this and encourages egg laying with proper nutrition. When pullets start to lay, the eggs are small, sometimes yolkless, and not regularly laid.
But as their reproductive organs mature, the eggs become larger and they lay once about every 36 hours.
Hopefully they are not eating their eggs. Check for signs of any broken shell bits or liquids from eggs in the nests or around the coop.
Another possibility is they are hiding their eggs. This is a natural instinct. If they free range outside a pen you might keep an eye on them and see if you can find where if they are laying in secret. Hope this helps.
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