Our chickens started laying eggs last week – about a month earlier than we were expecting. Perhaps I miscounted, but we were told they’d start laying between 18-22 weeks and that they were 4 or 5 weeks old when we got them. That would’ve put 20 weeks of age roughly mid-June. They started the first week of May, so it seems early to me.
Since they started “nesting,” we wanted to let them have a little more freedom in the yard while we’re home, so we tentatively let them out to wander last weekend, and again this morning.
At first, they were very tentative. It seemed they wanted back in! They hardly strayed from the area nearest their coop, where their coop was just a few weeks ago even.
Then they started getting a little more brave, pecking and wandering out into the yard a bit. We sat with them for about 20 minutes before we shuffled them back into their coop.
This morning, we had 3 eager little girls who wanted to pet them, so we let them out again. They paid very little attention to the girls until they started trying to actively pet them. They were scared, but the girls tried really hard to approach them calmly.
I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to let them roam freely in the backyard, but I like being able to let them out a few times a week to peck around the yard and feel the freedom. I think once they’re past their laying years we’ll let them roam the backyard freely, when we’re not as concerned about finding stray eggs all over the place.
Overall, having them has been ridiculously pain-free so far. They require very little care, on par with owning a cat. We fill their water jug a couple times a week and their feeder once each week. The huge bags of food are just $12 and we have been using one each month – which is roughly how much we spend on eggs each month anyway. Now that they’re laying, we’ll be able to sell a few dozen each month to neighbors and friends to cover our food expenses.
We’ve already given away a couple dozen eggs to family – it’s a neat feeling to deliver home-grown food to someone – and since our garden isn’t as productive as we’d hoped (hello lazy!), this will have to do.