How to Determine if a Hen is Laying  

    A hen who is laying well will have a moist, pink vent, and a wide, plump pelvis.
    With large fowl, if you check the space above her vent on her abdomen, feeling with
    your hand until you find the two pelvic bones. On a large hen, 3 fingers should be
    able to fit between those bones on a hen that is currently laying. If you can only fit 2
    fingers, the hen is not laying. On a bantam, you have to consider the size of the hen
    and egg.

    Also the redness of the facial skin is helpful to gauge if a hen is in lay. Hens that are
    in lay will have vivid red faces, combs, and wattles. Those who are not in lay will
    be pale in those areas. Comparing comb *size* is not always helpful--especially
    with different breeds, hens may have very different sized combs. Leghorn hens have
    very large combs that flop over, while Easter Eggers have compact pea combs,
    barely there by comparison.  

    As well, the legs of a good layer may also be paler or "bleached" (in brown egg
    laying breeds with yellow legs). A poor layer will have lots of pigment. Hens who
    are good layers may also have broken feathers, simply because their bodies may put
    fewer resources into their plumage. Make sure your layers have a high protein diet
    with plenty of calcium for strong egg shells, and so they can maintain the health and
    gloss of their plumage at the same time.

    If you are looking for visual signs that your young pullet is getting ready to come
    into lay, those might include the fact that her comb will get larger and redder right
    before she begins, and she will begin to "squat" submissively when you reach down
    to pick her up. Additionally, she may get a little louder right before she begins,
    since she is experiencing new instincts, and she may not be sure exactly what they
    are telling her to do, yet. She may go in and out of nest boxes looking for a safe
    place, and she may try to drive the other hens away from possible egg depositories
    if she is feeling protective. After she gets used to the process, things will go more
    smoothly and she will be less irritable.  

    One other thing to note is that hens who are molting will not be laying, as they need
    their energy to molt. Hens who shed all their feathers at the same time, or have a
    short molt, are good to note and keep, as it means they will come back into
    production sooner. Hens who take a very long time to molt should ideally be culled,
    as they are poor producers, and will pass that trait onto their offspring.  
Is My Hen Laying?
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