How to Tell if a Pullet is About to Start Laying

My first layer out of the flock, one of my Cuckoo Marens, Cookies

Waiting for your pullets to start laying is defiantly exciting. I don’t know about you, but I get excited to see what shades of blue, green, and brown my chickens will lay. Exanding the easter basket is always good, right? Anyways, chickens display a few distinctive signs that they are about to start laying. It’s like your chickens are saying, “hey, get the nesting boxes ready!”  You might have already seen your chickens doing this and never guessed that there was a meaning, or you already knew what it meant. Here’s a few tell-tale signs that your pullets are about to start laying eggs. 

cookies egg
One of my Cuckoo Marens egg.

What Age do Chickens Start Laying?

The average laying age of chickens is about 22 weeks, but certain breeds lay earlier or later. Chickens typically will be finishing their final molt before this as well, so they will be at or close to their full size, and their combs and wattles will be full or close to full sized by this time as well. 

Laying signs

Here’s a bullet list of all the most common signs your pullets are about to start laying. 

  • Crouching: Have you noticed that when you reach down to pet a few of your chickens, they stomp their feet and crouch down? This is called the submissive crouch, what hens do when they mate with a rooster. Turns out, a week or two before the hen starts to lay, she’ll do this regardless if there’s an actual rooster in your flock. 
  • Curiosity: Before a hen starts laying, she’ll start to scout out good laying places.  Of course, you want your chickens to lay in the nesting boxes you’ve provided, and most likely they will use them, though it may take a little bit of getting used to at first. You’ll see your younger birds go up into their coop multiple times, and they’ll scope out the boxes
  • Extra Noise: When hens lay an egg, they make a noise called the “egg song”, which is a really loud “ba-ba-ba-BAWK!” Some hens make this noise before they start laying, while others make the noise after laying a few eggs. 
  • Extra Red Combs: When a chicken is laying eggs, her comb and wattles are bright red. During the winter or a molt while she’s not laying, her comb will be paler. Before she starts laying, her comb will turn bright red, so be sure to check out your pullets combs!

I hope these signs help you see when your chickens start laying. It’s definitely exciting to see what shade their eggs will be, especially after waiting 20 some weeks for eggs… Anyways, I’d love to see pictures of your first eggs, so head over to my Instagram and tag me in your egg posts so I can see! 

Dancing with Chickens


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