They Grow Up So Quick!
Hens often don’t start laying when we expect them to after buying them at point of lay. Point of lay can be anything from 15-18 weeks of age but occasionally they can be sold when they are a little younger. They should start laying around 4 weeks from arrival but some can take a bit longer to mature and anything up to 25 weeks or even 30 weeks of age is possible depending on the breed and the time of year. If you notice that your hens are flattening themselves on the ground when you approach, this is often a good indicator that eggs aren't far off as they are adopting the mating position!
Another good indicator is to feel the pelvic bones. Don't worry! It's not an invasive procedure and all you do is put your hand flat against the hens backside. You should be able to feel two sharp bones either side of the vent. If the gap between the bones is about 2-3 fingers wide, she's either ready to lay or isn't far off as the bones move apart to let an egg through. If that gap is only around 1 finger's width, she's not ready yet. The comb is another indicator of readiness to lay. If it's small and pale pink, she's still a very young hen but when it begins to go tomato red, she's mature.
If they are free ranging, check behind sheds or under bushes for secret nests though as we found a lovely clutch in a big pot of runner beans last year from a hen who we thought hadn't started laying yet! Sometimes they can get a bit confused and will choose the oddest places to lay their eggs.