How to Tell when a Hen Is Ready to Lay

Telling when an older pullet (young hen) is at the point of lay can be tricky. There is no way to determine the exact date she will begin laying. Some chickens mature later than others, barred rocks mature at around 17 weeks, and silkies can begin to lay at just over a year, so be sure you now how old your breed of hen will be when she should begin to lay.


  1. 1
    Provide a suitable area for laying. Before she begins to lay, be sure that she will have a dark, private place to go when she needs to.
  2. 2
    Check the comb and waddles. When the hen is near the point of laying, these will grow noticeably and redden in color. The comb and waddles act as a cooling system for the bird, because they do not sweat. The blood runs through the comb, for instance, and cools as it moves further away from the body.
    • When hens lay, the cloaca (vent) becomes bright red in color and expands to allow the egg passage.
  3. 3
    Observe nesting behavior. Often, the day before the hen lays her first egg, she may practice sitting in the nesting box if there is one available.
  4. 4
    If you have a rooster(s), the hens will begin to allow him to mate with her. If not, then a hand placed over the hen's back will often stimulate the hormones, and she will crouch and spread her wings slightly.


  • If a hen looks ready to lay, check her cage, or where she spends a lot of time outside.
  • Hens typically cackle loudly after laying an egg.
  • Cardboard boxes or dog kennels work as temporary nesting boxes.


  • If her first egg is slightly misshapen, this is normal. Keep in mind her body is not used to making eggs yet.

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Categories: Chickens