Which hens lay eggs the earliest?

Every year I get at least a few emails from people who are just getting started with chickens and they ask "Which breeds will lay eggs first?" I totally get it! The wait for that first egg is soooo long! It feels like your hens will never start laying. Especially if you've picked a breed that doesn't lay till 8 months or more! There are breeds of chickens that lay at only 4 months though.

Youngest egg laying hens

One of those breeds is the golden comet. I bought my first comet at a feed store and the only reason I picked her was because I wanted a colorful chicken. I had hatched all black copper Marans and they all looked like little ravens. I couldn't tell them apart yet and I wanted something different. I think that hen was the best layer I ever had!

Actually many of the chicken breeds that have been bred to lay early are great layers. Most of them fall into a category called 'production' egg layers. Over the years they have been selectively bred to lay more often and be less broody. 

Here are some of the more common production layers.


Earliest egg laying chickens 

If you're looking for a breed of chickens to lay eggs sooner rather than later, these 5 should be on your list!

Golden comets

The golden comet can start laying eggs as young as 16 weeks. She will lay 6-7 eggs a week for close to 3 years. The golden comet is a cross between a rhode island red and a white leghorn. They are known to lay up to 330 eggs per year! Unfortunately high production breeds often don't live more than a few years.

Australorps

Australorp hens can start laying as early as 16 weeks old, though generally they hold out till about 18 weeks. Developed in Australia, the hens are known to lay 250+ brown eggs a year and come in black, white and blue.

Australorps are some  of the earliest egg laying chickens.

Leghorns

Originally developed in Tuscany, these hens tend to start laying around 17 weeks old. Leghorns lay a white shelled egg, unlike all the other hens on this list who lay brown. Often used in the breeding of various sexlinks, the leghorn will lay 280 eggs a year or more.

Barred rock

Aka the barred Plymouth rock, the hens can start to lay around 16 weeks, but could also be closer to 20. The hens are known to lay around 280 light brown, medium sized eggs per year. Also used for meat and known to be particularly cold hardy, the barred rock is a favorite on homesteads.

Barred rocks are some  of the earliest egg laying chickens.

Sexlinks

Generally sexlinks start laying around 18 weeks old, those this can vary slightly between the different types. Often sold under names like Black Star, Red Star, Cinnamon Queen, ISA Brown...or a host of other names. These chickens are cross breeds and different hatcheries have different names for their crosses. Of course since the crosses are all different, unless they are bred with an early laying breed the chances are that they will not lay early.


Other than these 5, the other chicken breeds have various wait times till that first egg. Sussex, Rhode Island Reds and Delawares generally all start laying at around 20 weeks of age. The heavier breeds like cochins and brahmas tend to not lay till 8-9 months old. Then there's silkie hens who start laying around 7 months, or whenever they want! lol

Chickens not laying eggs yet?


Remember, feed and daylight hours have a lot to do with when you pullets start laying. Not having a nutritionally complete feed can put them a little behind when they should be laying. You'll want to switch them off chick feed and on to layer feed when they are around 12 weeks old. Eight weeks at the earliest.

Pullets that were hatched in spring will lay according to the times listed for the breeds above. However, if a chick is hatched in fall sometimes she will not start laying till the days start to become longer in spring. Or sometimes she'll lay just a few eggs in winter and stop till spring. It's kind of a gamble with fall chicks. I've had good results with chicks hatched in summer though, they often lay all winter long.

I really loved my golden comet, she was a friendly chicken that laid an incredible amount of eggs! If I were starting my flock again, I'm pretty sure I'd do it exactly the same. Start with the breeds I really want, and add 1 or 2 production egg layers to start getting eggs sooner rather than later. Do you have production egg layers in your flock?

~L

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1 comment:

  1. Great information! Our Plymouth Barred Rock hen was laying just at 5 months and has consistently laid ever since. I'd definitely be interested in getting a Golden Comet hen! 😊

    ReplyDelete