One of the first questions every backyard chicken owner wants to know is when will my chickens start laying eggs? The general rule is sometime between 4 and 6 months of age (16-24 weeks).
It took a few weeks before all three of them began laying. In the meantime, we occasionally saw a soft-shelled egg or two in the coop. This happens more often in the early stages of laying, but can apparently occur, sporadically, throughout a hen's life.
After the 1st few soft shelled eggs, we haven't seen any more from the Rhode Island Reds. On average, we get 2 eggs from those 3 hens each day.
In October, we purchased a group of 10 4-week old pullets (Barred Rock and Silver Laced Wyandotte) from someone on Craigslist. Again, I counted the weeks and expected them to begin laying sometime in mid-February when they would be 20-21 weeks old.
If you don't know your chickens' hatch date and can't calculate their age, another way to guess when a pullet will begin laying is the color in her face and comb and the comb's size. It was a telltale sign for us. As the chickens matured and neared laying age, their faces and combs deepened in color and their combs grew. You could almost see the change daily. Here are a couple examples:
|Rhode Island Red Pullet (about 18 weeks old)|
|Rhode Island Red Hen (about 22 weeks old)|