What Are Pullets And Egg Laying Hens
Keeping egg laying hens in your backyard can be very exciting and enjoyable. Watching your egg laying hens scratching around in your backyard is very relaxing and collecting their eggs is a quite a thrill.
Raising baby chicks up to healthy, egg laying hens is fun but can be frustrating while you wait for those first eggs to come. If you have added new chicks to an existing flock, it isn't quite as frustrating as when you are starting from scratch. It can seem like it takes forever for them to start laying first eggs.
Your female chicks are called pullets until they are one year old then they are called hens after one year of age. So, when can you expect your first eggs?
When your pullets start laying eggs depends on several of factors.
Most pullets will start laying eggs on average at around six months of age. But, some breeds of egg laying hens, like Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds will start laying first eggs at around five months of age. Other breeds like Silkies and Bantams tend to not lay their first eggs until they are eight months of age or older.
The other factor that plays a huge role in egg laying is weather. If you got your chicks early in the spring, chances are good that you will get eggs from them the first year. If you got them in the summer, you probably won't get eggs from them until next year. Why you ask? Because most hens either won't lay at all during the cold winter months or will only lay sporadically.
Last winter, I had 15 egg laying hens and most days I only didn't get any eggs at all. Occasionally, I would get one egg or maybe two but that was rare when it was really cold outside. Most young pullets just won't start laying when it gets cold. If this is the case, you will get your first eggs when the weather in your area starts to warm up.
When your pullets start getting ready to lay eggs, you will notice that their combs and waddles will get larger and will turn red. When they were young, they usually have very small combs that are a very dull color. All of this changes when they are ready to start laying.
Your first eggs from the pullets will be small and the same pullet will lay irregularly at first so don't expect an egg every single day. It can take awhile for their bodies to adjust to egg laying. Keep an eye on your young pullets at first because they are prone to becoming egg bound during this time.
Your egg laying hens should lay for many years, although peak egg production for an egg laying hen is two years. After they are older than two, you will notice a decrease in egg production but they will continue to lay eggs for years. A friend of mine has two hens that were 8 years old this spring and they are still laying an egg or two a week. Their eggs are huge and beautiful.
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