A hen squatting down when you come up to them is one of the signs that a young bird is getting ready to start laying.
But what if they’re not laying once they start squatting, is this a problem or will the eggs come with time?
In short, there’s usually no problem at all if chickens are squatting it just means that they’re not completely ready to lay just yet. In rarer cases, there may be a reason why they’re not laying or an issue that needs to be addressed such as the chicken laying elsewhere or a problem with the coop.
Read on to find out more about how long you need to wait for eggs after a chicken starts to squat along with things you need to know if your chickens don’t start laying.
How Long After Laying Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
Chickens squat because it’s an instinctive move they adopt to accept a rooster during mating.
The fact they start doing this shows they’re maturing to an age where they can start to produce eggs to reproduce.
Squatting in young hens normally starts to happen at around 16-20 weeks old, but they don’t necessarily start laying straight away.
Laying will usually follow on a few weeks after a hen starts to squat down, but it could be even longer especially if the winter months are approaching. It’s also not uncommon for chickens not to lay until the next spring.
Reasons Why Chickens Might Not Be Laying Yet
If your chickens have been squatting for some time and you’re worried that there might be a problem, here are some potential issues you might need to consider:
1- They’re Too Young
It’s not always easy to know exactly how old your chickens are unless you’ve reared them yourself from chicks.
When you get point of lay pullets from a supplier or chicken farm, chances are they’re hatching them out all the time so they might not know exactly how old they are especially if they’re all running around together.
So, if you’re getting young pullets from a farm, there’s a chance they might be younger than you think and it will just be a case of waiting a bit longer to get your first egg.
As well as squatting, another key sign that hens are ready to lay is the growth and darkening of the comb (on top of the head) and the wattles (underneath the chin).
Young pullets who are not old enough to lay will usually have a very small comb, which you can only just see popping out of their feathers.
Hens who are at, or approaching laying age will have more visible growth and darkening.
Below is a close up of one of our hens faces at the time when she just started laying:
This article was first published on March 25, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets.
2- Winter is Approaching
Many chicken keepers find that their chickens either lay a reduced amount of eggs over the winter months or stop completely.
This happens not only because it’s cold, but also because the days are shorter and with chickens, their egg cycles are governed by daylight hours.
When you raise young chickens later in the year they will reach laying age as winter begins and in some cases, young hens might not start laying until early spring.
In this situation there’s nothing you can do to make the eggs come any quicker, it’s just a case of keeping your hens happy and healthy over winter and when they’re ready they’ll start laying.
3- They’ve Started Laying Elsewhere
When young hens first start laying eggs they’re inexperienced and don’t really know what’s happening, so it’s not unusual for an egg to pop out onto the ground while they’re standing.
If your hens are free-range you might find an egg on the ground where they graze and in some cases, they might even lay under bushes instead of their nest boxes.
For more help and information on this topic, you might find the article below useful:
4- There’s Something They’re Not Happy About
Chickens can sometimes be picky about where they lay, so if there’s a problem in or around the coop, this can prevent them from laying. Potential issues include:
- Dirty nest material – sometimes this happens when roosting bars are over a nest in which case you might want to consider moving them.
- Pests in the coop – such as red mite which bite and irritate chickens to the point it might stop them laying.
- Predators in or around the Coop – from the risk of a fox attack to a rat in the coop, potential threats can make chickens very agitated.
5- They’re Not Getting the Right Feed
When hens reach laying age they need the right amount of calcium to form eggs with hard shells.
A hard-shelled egg isn’t just for our benefit, it’s for the hens too because laying a soft-shelled egg can lead to her becoming unwell along with the complications of having a calcium deficiency.
So once hens reach laying age at around 16-18 weeks they will need extra calcium in their diet to support them through their egg-laying years.
Moving onto layers pellets gives the hens all the nutrients they need, although some chicken keepers choose to give a non-layers complete feed and supplement with calcium-rich oyster shell instead.
It’s really important that hens younger who are younger than 16 weeks aren’t given layers pellets, because they can make them seriously ill. For more information on this topic, take a look at the article below:
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on March 25, 2021.
How to Encourage Your Hens to Lay
Ultimately eggs are just a reward of chicken keeping and the hen will start laying when she’s good and ready, but there are a few things you can try if you’re concerned, these include:
- Keeping your hens inside the run with access to the coop during the morning if you’re concerned they might be laying elsewhere.
- Placing one or two rubber or ceramic eggs into the nest – chickens will often be encouraged to lay if another hen is or there are eggs there already.
Chickens Mating But Not Laying Eggs
Once young hens start to squat for a rooster mating can occur, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will start laying straight away.
It’s a rooster’s natural instinct to mate with the hens in his flock, but it’s not uncommon for this to happen before they start to lay.
As with hens who don’t have a rooster in the flock the signs are there that laying should be fairly imminent and might happen in the next few weeks as long as they’re of the right age.
Will My Chickens Ever Lay Eggs?
It’s important to know that it’s very unusual for a hen not to lay eggs. We’ve kept a number of chickens over the years and it’s never happened to us.
It’s inevitable that your chickens will begin to lay at some point and in most cases it’s really just a case of waiting and one day there will be one there waiting for you when you go out to the coop.
When it comes to egg-laying in the farming world, many have a tough time with little space and conditions that don’t allow a chicken to do all the things they love best.
So as hobby chicken keepers we have an opportunity to give our chickens the best lives possible and in return, they’ll reward us with tasty eggs when they’re ready.
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I hope this post has helped you to find out more about why your chickens aren’t laying eggs when they’ve started to squat, you might also like the following articles too:
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on March 25, 2021.