Getting less eggs then you used to??
Whether you’ve had hens for a while, or you have young pullets that are starting to lay, you may start to wonder which hens are laying or not.
I have a mixed flock and we’ve noticed a decline in our eggs so its time to do some investigating! Luckily there are some tell tail ways to tell if your hens are laying or not.
Five ways to tell if your hens are laying or not:
1. Comb and Wattle Color. This is one of the easiest ways to do a preliminary check. Is the hen’s comb and wattle bright red or dull? If it’s bright they are likely laying.
- Dull = not laying
- Bright = laying
2. Leg Color. This is another really quick and easy preliminary check. If the hen’s legs are a bright color, they are not laying. If they are dull, that’s a sign the hen is laying. This test for me has been accurate every single time!
- Bright = not laying
- Dull = laying
3. Tail feathers. Take a look at your hens rear ends! Are they fully and clean? If they are that hen might not be laying. If they are messy, that hen might be laying. Generally hens that are putting all their energy into making eggs, don’t have time to be vain 😉 Don’t judge just based on this test alone though, I’ve had hens that lay every day and still keep themselves fresh!
- Clean = possibly not laying
- Messy = possibly laying
4. Vent size and moisture level. Next take a look at their vent. If it’s tiny and dry, eggs are definitely not coming through there. If however it appears wide and somewhat moist, chances are that hen is laying eggs.
- Small and Dry = not laying
- Big and Wet = laying
5. Pubic bones. How many fingers fit between the two pubic bones on the hen? If it’s two or less, they aren’t laying. If it’s 3 or more, they are laying.
- Two fingers wide = not laying
- Three+ fingers wide = laying
No single test can be completely definitive on its own, but when you look at the overall outcome of all 5 tests, you can get a really confident idea of which of your hens are laying and which aren’t.
So what do you do with the hens that aren’t laying anymore?
If they are young, try supplementing their feed. If they are older, you have a decision to make.
You can cull them and feed them to your dogs or use them in stew. Or, you can let them live out their life as bug control on your property. Both are perfectly fine, it just depends on personal preference, and if you have space and money to be caring for hens who aren’t producing.
Whatever you decide is best for your homestead, at least now you’re armed with solid information moving forward!