We got our first egg! I was so excited. I went out to check on the chickens and give them some fresh water and food, and I noticed this one little egg just sitting by itself in the box inside the coop.
It’s a little thing, from one of our new Bantams. I hope they all start laying soon!
I did put milk crates in the coop for the chickens to lay in, though none have laid in one yet. I’m hoping these new laying boxes will inspire the others to lay! We’ll see. I just lined them with shredded paper, but I’d like to get some straw for them eventually.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that first egg when I brought it inside – nor was I sure what to expect from my other laying hens. Here is some more information that you may find helpful if you are in a similar position!
When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
For the most part, most hens will start laying eggs around 18 weeks of age. This can vary depending on a lot of factors, though.
For example, some chicken breeds will lay much later – we are talking 22 weeks or older – while others will lay much younger (around 16 weeks). Those that lay at a younger age are usually chicken breeds that have been bred and are raised specifically for this purpose, such as red-sex link chickens such as Golden Comets.
Other factors that can impact when your chickens start laying eggs is the environment. If it’s very cold, dark, or otherwise miserable outside, your chickens might hold off on laying their first eggs. This isn’t quite as common, since most people get their chicks in the spring and those chicks reach egg-laying maturity in the summer – an ideal time for them to do so, weather wise.
Various stressors can impact when and how often your chickens lay eggs. If you think your chickens should have laid their first eggs by now and you still don’t see any, make sure the coop isn’t being harassed by predators and that it is secure against threats like drafts, mice, lites, and other issues.
You should check on the diet of your birds, too. Hens that don’t have adequate protein and calcium might not lay, or at least not lay eggs predictably, so you’ll want to make sure you are feeding them a high-quality layer pellet to ensure ample egg production.
Remember that you don’t necessarily have to have a rooster to get your hens to lay eggs! They will do this on their own. The rooster is only necessary if you want fertilized eggs for hatching.
Signs That Your Hens Are Getting Ready to Lay Their First Eggs
Not sure whether you should be looking for that first egg or not? If your chickens have surpassed the age at which they should have started laying, and you have already checked to make sure their diet, environment, and health are in tiptop shape, you may want to examine your nesting boxes.
Are they comfortable enough for your hens to lay in? Are they dark and secluded, an inviting environment for shy layers? Did you fill the nest boxes with bedding?
If your answer to all of those questions is yes, there’s a chance that perhaps your hens aren’t laying their eggs inside the nest boxes. If your hens free-range, take the time to inspect your property – get the kids involved and go on an egg hunt! Your hens might be laying their eggs somewhere else.
There is a slight chance that your hens are eating the eggs, too, but this isn’t as common in young birds that have just started to lay. Either way, though, it is something to keep an eye out for.
Once you’ve ruled out all of these factors, just try to be patient. Some individual hens will take longer to lay their first eggs than others, and it comes down to being patient with them (and yourself!) as they get riady to do so.
You can look for a few telltale signs as they are getting ready to lay. For starters, mature pullets will exhibit changed behaviors. They might start spending more time with the rooster and will crouch down for breeding. If you don’t have a rooster, you may find that your hens do this to you when you enter the coop.
You can place a few decoy eggs or golf balls into the nesting box to encourage them to lay there. You may see your hens investigate the nesting areas more frequently or even go in there for brief periods during the day.
Mature hens who are getting ready to lay will be fully feathered and have wattles and combs that become redder as they prepare to lay.
Can You Eat the First Egg a Chicken Lays?
I’ve heard from a lot of people that they are hesitant to eat the first eggs that their hens lay. Do the eggs need to mature? Are they supposed to be cleaned or “aged” somehow first?
The answer is simple – you can eat the very first egg your chicken lays, and there’s nothing special that you need to do to it. You can eat the eggs as soon as they start coming. In fact, in some families, it’s considered an honor to be the one who gets to test the first egg!
As long as the weather isn’t too hot or too cold and you collect eggs regularly, there should be nothing wrong with that first egg – you don’t need to refrigerate it right away, either.
What to Expect From Your First Eggs
Don’t panic if your first eggs don’t quite look like what you expected. It’s important to remember that not all eggs are brown – and not all eggs are white, either. One type of egg is not healthier than another, and the only thing that changes the egg color is the breed of the chicken.
The most common egg laying breed is the Leghorn, which lays white eggs. However, many common “homesteading” breeds of chickens lay brown eggs. Others lay pink, blue, or even green eggs!
Some other things to expect?
Your first eggs might be a bit on the tiny side. Egg size varies among breeds, so bantam chickens will almost always lay eggs that are smaller than those of standard breed chickens. However, older chickens also are known to lay large eggs than younger ones. As a chicken ages, her egg size naturally increases, as does her production, until it tapers down as she reaches old age.
The color of your egg’s yolk will also vary. This is usually affected by diet. The richest, most vibrant yolk colors are usually created by a pasture-predominant diet.
What To Do After Your Chicken Lays an Egg
There is nothing special that you need to do when your chicken lays an egg, regardless of whether it is the first egg or the hundredth.
One thing you should do is clean the egg – but only if you plan on putting it in the refrigerator or if it is very dirty. If your nest boxes are kept clean and the egg is not covered in poop, dirt, or feathers, you don’t need to wash it, and it can actually be kept at room temperature for quite some time.
However, as soon as you wash it, you remove the layer of the egg that protects it from harmful bacteria (known as the “bloom”) and that means that it needs to be refrigerated.
You can store your eggs fresh at room temperature for about a month as long as they are not washed, or you can store them in the refrigerator for up to six months, when sealed, if they were washed. If you plan on storing your eggs long term, consider freezing or dehydrating them.
What To Do If Your First Egg Looks…Well, Weird
Not all eggs are beautiful – and new eggs sometimes can be quite shocking to look at.
In my experience, I’ve found that young pullets take some time to get used to the whole egg laying business. They may lay eggs that look odd the first few times, but usually, this isn’t anything to worry about. Occasionally, those odd eggs can be the result of vitamin deficiencies or hereditary problems, but this is not common.
One of the most common things you might see is an egg without yolk. Also known as a fart egg (great name, right?) an egg without a yolk is typically a pullet’s first attempt at laying. It will be a smaller, rounder egg and look more like a marble than an egg. It’s nothing to worry about, as the eggs will get larger as your hen gets older.
Another egg that a young pullet might lay is a soft-shelled egg or one without a shell entirely. Now , if this happens later in a hen’s life, it can be a sign of calcium deficiency. It can also be an indication of problems like a water shortage or a change in lighting (or some other environmental issue). But early on, it just indicates that your pullet is figuring things out.
Some Ideas of What to Do With Your First Egg
Getting that first egg is so exciting! I honestly don’t blame you if you can’t decide what to do with it and honestly just want to save it. No judgment!
However, I do have some ideas of what you can do with that first egg if you aren’t sure what to do.
There are the classic options, of course – you can eat the egg. From making an omelet to a souffle, a poached egg to a scramble, you have a ton of choices – pick the recipe that you like the best.
But what if it’s your only egg (meaning you don’t have enough for a full meal yet) or you just can’t bring yourself to eat this monumental milestone?
In that case, you might want to consider doing something a little less traditional. For example, you could bounce it! Here’s a tutorial on how to bronze an egg as a commemoration of your first victory in raising chickens.
The options don’t end there, though! You could make an egg ornament (here’s an article that will show you how to do that!) or simply blow the insides out of the egg and leave it on your shelf.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t let that egg go to waste. Your hens worked hard to lay it!
We haven’t eaten our first egg yet. It’s just chillin’ in the fridge. It’s so cool to me though, having a fresh egg from my own backyard chicken!
The first “fruits” from our livestock. We’re on our way…
updated 08/25/2020 by Rebekah White
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A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.