Imagine taking care of a lovely flock of baby chicks. These beautiful creatures bring so much love and fun to your backyard, then they start laying eggs, and things become even better.
Chickens mature and begin laying eggs at the age of 18 weeks and continue to do that every single day, depending on the breed and environmental conditions.
Do chickens lay eggs after hatching chicks? Chickens will spend several weeks taking care of their new hatchlings. Once the chicks are weaned, the hens will start laying again. Let’s take a closer look at this.
As a breeder, waiting for the eggs is extremely exciting, but you need to understand that several conditions can affect your chickens’ ability to lay eggs.
Keep on reading to learn more about this topic. Another reason your hen will lay fewer eggs, is if she just had chicks.
Receiving the First Eggs
If you’ve been taking good care of the chickens, providing them with high-quality food, and making sure that they have a comfortable and safe living space, you should expect your first batch of eggs to arrive within 18 weeks after the chicks hatch. Chickens don’t need to be with a rooster unless they need to lay fertilized eggs that will hatch chicks in the future. When the chickens are about to lay their eggs for the first time, their behavior changes.
They try to spend more time in the coop and might try to spend more time with the rooster. During this period, you can put golf balls in the nesting boxes to help chickens understand what they’re for. Chickens don’t understand the difference between fertilized and unfertilized eggs and will sit on both types.
In the first few weeks, chickens may lay eggs that are irregular in shape, have soft shells, have no yolk, or double yolks. After a few weeks, the egg production will be more consistent, and the shape of the eggs will be more regular. Chickens will start laying high-quality eggs by the time they’re 30 weeks old.
Do Chickens Lay Eggs After Hatching Chicks?
After laying eggs and hatching chicks, chickens will usually spend about 7 or 8 weeks taking care of their new babies. Some chickens consider their baby chicks to be adults by the time they’re 5 weeks, while others will continue to take care of their chicks until they’re almost the size of adult chickens.
Once their chicks have grown, they will wean them and start laying eggs one more time. This process is affected by several factors:
- If the rooster visits the hen more often, it will be more tempted to wean the chicks faster and start to lay eggs one more time. When the rooster is busy with other hens, the hen will spend more time taking care of the baby chicks.
- Some breeds are faster to wean their chicks than others. Some can wean their baby chicks as fast as 8 weeks after they hatch, while others wait until they have grown feathers.
- Chickens would spend more time taking care of their chicks if they laid a large number of eggs that hatched into baby chicks. If they only have a small number of chicks to take care of, they will soon start laying more eggs.
- If the chicken has laid eggs towards the end of the season, the hen will spend more time taking care of the baby chicks, as they will automatically lay fewer eggs or even stop laying eggs in winter.
- When the chicken is higher in the pecking order, it will lay eggs soon after hatching the eggs. This hen will have more access to food that allows the body to get prepared for laying eggs. A chicken that is lower in the pecking order will spend more time taking care of the baby chicks.
- The time chickens will spend taking care of their baby chicks without laying eggs is related to the breed. Some breeds spend more time taking care of their baby chicks, while others would soon leave the chicks and start laying new eggs. Within the same breed, there will also be differences between the chickens, depending on their health.
How Long Do Chickens Keep on Laying Eggs?
Laying eggs is a sign that chickens are happy and healthy. If you’re keeping your chickens healthy and well-fed, you should expect to receive about 250 eggs from each chicken per year. Chickens lay fewer eggs every year and will retire from laying eggs by the time they’re 7 or 8 years old.
Each chicken takes between 24 to 26 hours to lay an egg. Chickens need to be exposed to 14 or 16 hours per day to have their ovaries stimulated. When the day gets shorter, chickens are likely to lay fewer eggs. They also start the process of molting, where they lose their feathers and stop laying eggs.
The housing, management of the coop, diet, weather, and parasite load will affect eggs’ production. During the first year, the production will be 100%, which means 1 egg per hen.
Every year, egg production will decrease by 10% to reach about 35% in the seventh year. This means that if your chicken lays 250 eggs in the first year, you can expect it to lay about 200 eggs in the second year. You can guarantee that your chickens are laying eggs for a long time by adding a supplementary light that provides them with light when the day gets shorter.
Chickens can continue to live years after they’ve stopped laying eggs. Most chickens live between 8 and 10 years old, while the oldest recorded chicken lived to be 16 years old.
What to Do When Your Chickens are Broody?
Chickens become broody when their hormones change, and their motherly instincts kick in and tell them that it’s time to sit on the eggs until they hatch. Chickens will sit in the nest, whether there are eggs or not.
If you try to approach a broody hen, it will get very defensive. The chicken will puff its feathers up and try to peck at anyone who tries to get near the eggs. If the eggs are fertile, the hen will sit on them for about 21 days. After this period, the eggs will hatch, and new chicks will appear.
However, if the hen is sitting on infertile eggs, or there are no eggs in the nest, you should intervene. The chicken’s instincts will push it to sit in the nest indefinitely until they can hear the squeaks of baby chicks. If you don’t take action, this will affect the hen’s health negatively.
Broody hens take their broodiness very seriously. They will rarely live in the coop and won’t play with the other chickens. They might only leave the coop once or twice a day to eat, drink, and relieve themselves, and this will make them pale and unhealthy.
Broody hens usually lose weight, and their feathers become weak. They might also start losing their feathers. If the weather is too hot, hens can become too dehydrated because they rarely leave the coop.
If you keep chickens in the backyard, you need to pay attention to broody hens. Encourage your hens to leave the coop as broody hens can encourage other hens to go broody as well.
You can do the following things to encourage your hen to snap out of broodiness:
- Move the hen to a cool pen or a broody breaker where there’s room for air to circulate. The cool air will make the hens less comfortable.
- The broody breaker provides the hen with access to light, unlike the dark places where the hen will prefer to sit and lay eggs.
- Keep the hen well-fed and allow it to move outside, without access to the nesting spots. This will send a signal to the brain that it’s not time to lay eggs.
Chickens start laying eggs by the time they’re 18 weeks and will continue to lay eggs for up to 8 years. When the eggs hatch, they will stop laying eggs for a few weeks until they’re ready to wean their chicks. Some breeds will keep on taking care of their baby chicks until they’re almost adults.