Because so many variables are involved, we cannot predict exactly when your chickens will start to lay, but we can give some estimates.
If your chickens are older than this and they haven’t yet started to lay, there are several things to check:
- Are they getting ample nutrition? Are you using a good quality commercial layer feed? Also, surprisingly, feeding too many table scraps can reduce laying because the table scraps have a different balance of nutrition than their normal feed. But in moderation, table scraps are excellent for them.
- Are the birds in a stress-free environment? Noisy dogs, inadequate protection from the elements, excessive handling, etc. can cause stress that slows the onset of laying.
- Good hygiene is important. Clean waters and feeders frequently. Provide a continual supply of fresh drinking water. Avoid letting feed come in contact with the ground.
- Are the birds healthy? Are there any signs of parasites or mites? Gail Damerow’s The Chicken Health Handbook is an excellent reference for more information.
- Are they warm enough? This time of year, that typically won’t be a problem, but it’s good to be aware of come fall and winter. Cold birds won’t lay well. Above 55°F is ideal for them. As the weather warms up this spring and summer, be sure to provide shade and cool water, as heat can also affect laying.
- Lighting plays a big role in laying. This time of year, with the days getting longer, lighting is not likely to delay laying except possibly in the far north.
- Molting can also affect laying, but it more commonly occurs in the fall. During a molt, your hens will typically slow or stop their laying as they lose and replenish their feathers.