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When (and where) will my chickens lay their first eggs?

little blue eggOne day this week while collecting eggs I met with a glorious find—a beautiful blue egg, albeit a surprisingly small one in comparison to the large Delaware & Welsummer eggs I usually collect. At long last, the new birds from our mid-April shipment have begun to produce. The blue egg was from an Ameracauna, but where I found it was unexpected, if not surprising.

We keep our older birds separate from the new batch; in their own smaller hen house (a converted rabbit hutch) in a separate pen from where the new recruits stay. We only have 3 older birds, and 12 new ones. What was unexpected was that the new Ameracuana went all the way in back, into the separate pen compartment and up into the hutch where the 3 older birds stay to lay her first egg.

In retrospect I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the older and younger birds are pastured together, but they usually don’t mix much, and I’ve never seen any of the new birds go into the hutch before. How would this one know to go in there to lay her first egg instead of doing it in one of the nest boxes in her own house?

As it stands I’d planned on putting out some wooden eggs in the new birds’ house, just hadn’t expected to need to do it so soon. She’s a little early by my count. Although 21 weeks is in the 20-24 week window, we’ve always found ours to start just a little later, and Eggzy has helped us capture data to track our average days to point-of-lay (POL). I’ve been told pastured birds take longer than conventionally raised birds, and of course it also depends on breed and climate. Our Ameracauna’s are usually among the first, but this is the earliest we’ve seen.

In any case, I’ve since placed the wooden eggs, but thus far she’s ignoring them and continuing to use the older birds’ hutch. Unfortunately it’s looking like this might be a tough habit to break. I only hope the rest of the birds will pay more attention to the wooden eggs so I don’t end up with 15 birds laying in the single nest box in the hutch.

Any reprogramming advice would be greatly appreciated—please let us know by posting a comment.

* This post was originally published on August 31, 2011.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Danny Sleeper #

    I have been looking everywhere and cannot find out how hi off the floor the nest boxes should be installed, can anyone help me with this or let me know where to go for the information.


    September 15, 2011
    • mdt #

      For us it hasn’t really made a difference, as long as it’s a quiet secluded spot. Our hen house is raised about a foot off the ground, and the nest boxes are on the floor to the front with a raised lip and dividers. A Google search for “positioning nest boxes for chickens” turned up some good references, although again, height doesn’t appear to be a significant consideration.

      September 15, 2011

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