Egg Laying Training Week


Chickens don't need to be trained how to lay eggs.  By God's perfect design and creation, this happens quite naturally without our intervention.  Chickens don't need humans to teach them how to lay eggs. But, God did give humans "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26).

So it's not out of necessity, but for our convenience that we train chickens WHERE to lay their eggs, so that we don't have to have an egg hunt every day, looking among the shrubs and flowers and brush to collect our investment.

As my young chickens approached 22 weeks of age, I knew to start watching for signs that they were ready to begin laying eggs.  I knew this, because it's like clock work, this amazing design.  It is, indeed, amazing that a hen releases an egg yolk that grows in size as it travels down the oviduct, is wrapped with the egg white, then a membrane, then the shell.  Finally a color pigment is deposited on the shell before it reaches the vent and is released.  And this re-occurs about every 24 hours in a normal, healthy hen.


Our Buff Orpington was the first one to show signs of being ready to lay.  She began checking out the nesting boxes where I had placed golf balls to draw their attention.  She began to squat down when I approached her, which is what pullets (young females) and hens do when they are ready to mate.  She began clucking frequently, another typical characteristic of a laying hen.


So I wasn't surprised when on exactly 22 weeks from the day she was hatched, Buffy laid an egg.  And I really wasn't surprised that it wasn't in the nesting boxes.  How was she to know?  It was her first egg.  Actually, I didn't see the first one until the next day, which is why there were two eggs, not in the nesting box but behind the water feeder.  Chickens do seek a hidden spot to lay their eggs, and she found one.  But it's not where I want her to lay eggs.  So training had to begin.


I placed her eggs in one of the nesting boxes.  Chickens will instinctively lay eggs where others have been laid.  (That's why plastic eggs or small balls can be used as decoys to lure them to a nest.) But, the next day there was another egg behind the water feeder. 


 So I decided the training had to be raised a notch.  I moved the water feeder into the corner so she couldn't get behind it.  When I saw Buffy leave the other chickens in the run and go into the house by herself and start clucking, I peeked in the hen house.  She was hollowing out the straw in front of the water feeder.  So I went in and lifted her into the nesting box.  She wasn't happy about this and tried to get out, but I gently stroked her until she relaxed and settled in.  Then I went out and closed the door and let her have the privacy they crave.  (But I was still peeking in.)


Buffy began her loud, long clucking.   The other chicks didn't know what to make of her noise.  They stood on the ramp that leads from the run into the house and hovered nervously, not wanting to go in, and not wanting to go about their business.


Ruby Red's curiosity did get the better of her, and she went in to have a look at what was going on with her yellow friend.


And Buffy finally completed her task, came out of the nest, and happily went on to enjoy the rest of the day free-ranging, scratching for bugs, nibbling at various greens, and bathing in the dust.


This is just one day, and this is just one chicken out of six. Chickens do catch on quickly, though, and they like routine.  Also, if one chicken catches on and learns the ropes, the others will usually follow suit.  We'll see how the egg-laying training goes the rest of the week. 

9 comments:

  1. God's design and your ingenuity are a great combination :) Beautiful farm and coop!

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  2. LOL! This made my husband and I laugh. We don't have chickens yet but hope to start a small flock next spring.

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    1. Haha, thanks for your comment Jenny... chickens are a lot of fun. We can just sit and watch them running around the yard doing the craziest things. One of ours endlessly stares at herself in the garden gazing ball. I hope you get them; you'll love it!

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  3. Just found this post of yours and it's JUST what I need right now! My girls that were hatched on June 4th are at that tender age and I'm watching them closely. They have zero interest in our nest boxes, which is a real bummer. This morning I put some Easter eggs in each nest, hoping to draw attention. I've got my fingers crossed! Thank you for sharing your sweet girl's experience, as it helps me better know how to help my girls out.

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  4. I hope you find it helpful Tina. It is so exciting when those peeps near the age of laying and you get to start reaping rewards from your dedicated care. Yours are just reaching the age when they MAY start laying very soon. Some of them may have delayed starts, particularly at this time of year when there are less hours of daylight, which effects egg production. That's why some people put lights on timers in their hen houses. I don't. I like to let God's design have its way. Three of my hens began laying at 22-24 weeks, but three of them have still not laid at 30 weeks. The best indication that they are ready to start laying is when they begin to squat when you approach them. Watch for that sign, and test it. Reach for them and see if they squat or run from your reach. The three of mine that are laying do squat. The three that aren't laying don't. I hope it's soon for you. I'll be anxious to hear. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. I just found this post via the Backyard Farming Connection. Only one of my chickies is laying yet, but I noticed her behind the garden shed and didn't think anything of it until the next day when I found an egg in the dog run which is now a chicken run. So I looked behind the shed and there was an egg and not easy to get to. The next day there was another egg behind the shed, so I put blocks in front of it so she couldn't get to it. The day after I saw her about mid morning squating and trying to get back there so I picked her up and put her in the nesting box where she laid an egg and has every day since. I'm hoping that when the other two chickies start laying they will follow her lead and lay in the coop.
    Thanks for the post. It makes me feel like I did something right!

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    1. Haha, that's a good story Jen. Thanks for sharing it. You done good! When I have pullets that are just beginning to lay, I also try keeping them in the coop for the morning to give them an opportunity to use the nests. Once they're in the habit, I can let them out earlier. Thanks for coming by and commenting! ~Katie

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  6. Thank you for the good information on raising chickens.

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