Starting Your flock With Mature Laying Hens Is Great for Beginners and Previous Flock Owners Alike Because of the Low Cost and Ease of Setup.
If you've decided that you’re not quite ready to hatch eggs or raise baby chicks, you can always buy mature hens that are ready to begin laying eggs right away.
This is a great way to quickly and inexpensively start your own flock with a minimum amount of time and effort so you can begin to collect eggs almost instantly.
A hen can begin laying eggs at 4 – 6 months of age and is considered mature at 1 year of age.
When buying hens that are already laying it's difficult to know their exact age.
If buying a laying hen, it's good to know the age of the hen because they usually only lay consistently for 2 to 3 years before their production slows down.
For this reason, it is important to buy from knowledgeable, trustworthy sources like Farmers Markets, local feed stores, or local chicken breeders.
This will help ensure that you’re getting a hen with some productive years left in her.
A solid layer like the Buff Orpington pictured above can lay 4-5 eggs a week. These particular birds are good all around and tolerate people well. They are considered dual purpose birds because they're used for both egg and meat production.
Broody hens are basically mature laying hens that are ready and wanting to hatch a clutch of eggs. These can be any breed of chicken although certain breeds are more prone to broodiness than others.
Mature laying hens can go "broody" over a clutch of eggs to hatch them. If you're trying to hatch eggs naturally, this can be a good quality in a hen.
If your family plans to buy replacement chicks from a hatchery, or to incubate your eggs, broodiness can be an undesirable trait when your broody hen is not producing eggs.
The Benefits of Starting with Mature Hens
As you can see, Mature Laying Hens are a great option for quickly and easily starting your flock.
You'll also want to provide some type of nesting box like the one pictured above where your hen can feel secure when laying her eggs as well as shelter form the elements and predators.
We like these because they save time & money and are less messy than using bowls, but bowls will work fine. Just make sure you keep an eye on them since your chickens may tip them, poop in them, or just make a mess in them.
And of course, it's always good to know what to expect when it comes to your hen's behavior.
A molting chicken will also decrease or stop laying eggs altogether just like a broody hen so it's good to learn about chicken molting and what to expect when your birds are molting.
You have a lot of options when it comes to housing your flock from buying new or used to converting a shed or other existing structure. You can learn all about housing your flock on our chicken coops page.
You can also look into building your own coop with our free chicken coop plans. Plan #4 is a small and inexpensive design that should work well for a small flock.
Chickens are social animals and we strongly encourage you to get at least 2 hens, and if you can, 3 hens are even better.
With 2-3 birds, you can use a small A-Frame type coop like shown on our chicken coop types page. These are nice because they're small and that makes them easy to move around.
Whether you choose to buy or build, you'll want to consider your future plans as to the number of chickens you'll ultimately have when choosing the size of your coop as well as where you're going to locate your coop on your property.
Choosing to start with mature hens that are already laying eggs is a great way to get comfortable with owning and caring for your flock.