How Long From Chick to First Egg?
You know the saying, “Good things come to those who wait”. When starting with day old chicks one must have a bit of patience as it will be a while before you collect that first farm fresh egg from your coop. But let me tell you, it is worth the wait! “How long before my hens start laying eggs?” is a question we at Meyer Hatchery get asked daily. The reality is that it is different for every breed and every chicken. Much like humans, chickens develop at their own unique pace.
As you carefully pick the newest additions to your flock, there are some important factors to consider: how early the breed matures and the number of eggs they will lay each year. On our website we have a helpful characteristics guide that will aid you in determining if your desired breed is likely to mature early or will more likely be a late bloomer. Some of the breeds to generally mature early are the New Hampshire Reds, Black Australorps, any color varieties of the Plymouth Rock, Leghorns (Brown, Exchequer, White). A few slower to mature breeds would be the Cochins, Polish, Brahmas and Silkies.
On average, a pullet will begin to lay an egg around 5-6 months of age. You may get lucky and start receiving eggs as early as 16-18 weeks, or have to wait a long 28-32 weeks before you receive your first egg. However, most pullets will begin to lay their first egg between 20-24 weeks. If you order chicks in the spring between March and May you will generally start to see your first egg between August and October.
Time of Year
If you order your chicks in the summer, you may have to wait a little bit longer for your eggs. Chicks that are hatched between June and August, if following the 5-6 month rule, should start laying their first egg between October and December. However, there is a chance you won’t see your first egg until the spring of the next year. A hen needs 12-14 hours of light per day to stimulate egg production. This is why your hens will lay more eggs in the spring and summer months when the days are 14-16 hours long. When the days become shorter it does affect a chicken’s egg laying cycle.
One option in the fall and winter months is to offer supplemental light in the morning to help your flock maintain the 12-14 hours of “daylight” they need to regularly produce eggs. Although, reduced daylight hours in the wintertime generally signals the time for hens to take a natural break from egg production. In the states that have colder winters, the energy the hens once used to produce an egg, will now be used to keep their bodies warm.
Time to Produce an Egg
On average it takes a hen 24 to 26 hours to produce and lay one egg. After the egg has been laid it will take about 15 to 30 minutes for the process to start over again. 20 hours of egg production is spent just on the shell forming. If you have a small flock, pay attention to the time of day your hens will lay their eggs. If you notice, a hen will lay her egg approximately 2 hours later than the day before. Hens won’t lay an egg at night when they are sleeping, so this will result in them occasionally skipping a day in their egg laying cycle and laying their egg the next morning.
No matter how long it takes, it is definitely worth the wait for those farm fresh eggs. In the comments below let us know the earliest a pullet has laid an egg and also the longest time you’ve had to wait.