Although the age at which hens start laying eggs depends on many factors, the ultimate factor is the breed. Some breeds mature fast and start laying as early as 4 months of age, while others mature more slowly and start laying much later. Below are just a few of the many chicken breeds, along with the age at which they may be expected to start laying.
Early Layers — 4 to 4½ Months
Most of the early layers are breeds that have been developed for high egg production. They are typically the smaller breeds. Some of these hens start laying eggs as early as the age of 4 months. Early layers, along with the number of eggs you can expect from each during their first year of laying, include these:
Australorp — 200 to 280 large brown-shell eggs per year.
Golden Comet — 250 to 320 large brown-shell eggs per year.
Leghorn — 220 to 300 large to extra large eggs per year with white shells.
Mid Layers — 5 to 6½ Months
Most chicken breeds don’t lay until they reach at least 5 months of age. This group includes the sex link hybrids, except for Golden Comet, which is the earliest maturing of the sex links. Mid layers include the following:
Delaware — 180 to 260 large to jumbo eggs per year with brown shells.
Easter Egger — 200 to 280 medium to large eggs per year with a variety of shell colors.
New Hampshire — 200 to 280 large to extra large eggs per year with brown shells.
Rhode Island Red — 200 to 280 large brown-shell eggs per year.
Sex Link — 200 to 280 large eggs per year with light brown shells.
Sussex — 180 to 240 large eggs per year with light brown shells.
Welsumer — 200 to 280 medium to large eggs per year with dark brown shells.
Late Layers — 6 to 9 Months
Slow maturing breeds hold off laying until about 6 months of age, and may not lay until they are 8 months or older. These hens tend to be of the larger breeds. Among others, they include these breeds:
Ameraucana — 180 to 200 medium to large eggs per year with blue shells.
Barnevelder — 150 to 200 large eggs per year with dark brown shells.
Brahma — 130 to 150 medium to large brown-shell eggs per year.
Cochin — 110 to 160 medium to large brown-shell eggs per year.
Marans — 150 to 200 large eggs per year with dark brown shells.
Orpington — 200 to 280 medium-size brown-shell eggs per year.
Wyandotte — 180 to 260 medium-size brown-shell eggs per year.
This list is just a sampling of chicken breeds to give you an idea of the range in the ages that hens start laying eggs. It also shows the wide range in eggs laid by different breeds as to the number typically laid during the first year, the sizes of the eggs, and the color of their shells.
And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.
Gail Damerow has written several books about poultry, including The Chicken Encyclopedia.