Aside from the joys that come with raising Barred Rock chickens as pets, chances are you’re keeping them for fresh eggs throughout the year. And, if you’ve raised them awhile, the eggticipation is probably causing you to wonder when do Barred Rock chickens start laying eggs?
Barred Rock chickens usually start laying when they’re between 16 and 20 weeks old. But, the time may vary depending on the individual chicken, her nutrition, the climate condition, and other factors.
So, if you can’t bear the anxiety any longer, read on to learn if your chickens are going to put some eggcitement on your face soon!
Barred Rock Chickens: Reliable Egg Machines
Barred Rock chickens are rather large birds that are perfect for the table. Roosters end up around 9.5 lbs while hens reach around 7.5 lbs. And their tender, tasty meat is to die for!
But, that’s not all they’re good for. Despite being large, they have a good feed to egg conversion ratio. So, in addition to producing quality meat, Barred Rock chickens have been bred to lay high-quality, large brown eggs!
More importantly, they’re a cold-hardy breed that will continue laying throughout the year. Even through the winter season when most breeds can’t keep it going.
They became so popular in the United States in the late-1800’s. And during World War II, they were arguably the most common chicken breed in America. The State even encouraged its keeping and the birds were a reliable provider of meat and eggs for the troops during the war.
When Do Barred Rock Chickens Start Laying Eggs? The Beginning of an Illustrious Egg-Laying Career
Like most chicken breeds famed for their egg-laying prowess, Barred Rock chickens don’t start laying till they’re between 16 and 20 weeks old.
That said, some won’t start laying until the 24th to 26 weeks of their lives. Aside from this difference, they generally follow the same life cycle as most chicken breeds that excel at producing eggs.
Between 6 And 16 Weeks Old
During this period, your Barred Rock pullets are officially teenagers. At this stage, they’d have started growing adult plumage and are no longer the cute fluffy chicks they once were.
Still, they’re only just starting to develop their secondary sexual characteristics. So, you’re probably not going to find any eggs in your coop if they’re around this age.
Between 16 Weeks And 1 Year Old
At about 16 to 24 weeks of age, your Barred Rock pullets have reached full sexual maturity. They’ve officially become point-of-lay chickens and should be rewarding your efforts anytime soon. If you’ve not spotted any eggs yet, it should just be a matter of time before you do.
During this period, they won’t lay eggs at a consistent rate. What’s more, eggs laid at this stage are usually smaller than normal-sized eggs of the breed. But, after they lay their first 2 or 3 eggs, their eggs start to get up to size.
They’re however going to start laying consistently and regularly when they’re between 8 and 10 months old. Still, they don’t seem to hit their stride until they’re a little over a year old.
When they’re between 12 and 18 months of age, your Barred Rock chickens will experience their very first molt. It’s a process that causes old, dull feathers to give way to new ones.
Molting can last anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks And during this period, you should expect a drastic reduction in egg production. After all, the birds at this time are converting their energies into re-growing their feathers rather than into the production of eggs.
Between 1 And 3 Years Old
During this period, your Barred Rock chickens are in their prime and laying eggs almost every day of the week.
At this stage, eggs from your hens should appear large and brown. Barred Rock chickens are egg-laying juggernauts and are expected to lay even during the winter!
You may still want to provide an artificial light source to your birds during the winter to keep egg production optimum.
Beyond 4 Years Old
Your Barred Rock chickens will continue laying from when they’re 4 years old. However, she’s no longer in her prime. And with every passing year, egg production takes a dip.
They’ll continue to lay fewer eggs every week till you’re barely seeing any eggs in your coop.
Between 6 and 7 years of age, Barred Rock chickens are spent and egg production is largely irregular. The quality of eggs also reduces. And the chickens should be nearing their end.
In the absence of accidents and diseases, they should live till they’re about 10 to 12 years old.
How Many Eggs Will My Barred Rock Chickens Lay Yearly?
Your healthy Barred Rock chickens should give you approximately 280 eggs in their first year of laying. That’s around 4 eggs every week, give or take.
However, the amount may be less or more depending on the individual bird. In addition to this, other factors like nutrition, diseases, sunlight exposure can all affect how many eggs they lay.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed your birds a 16 to 18% protein layer feed if you want more eggs. The feed should also be rich in calcium to ensure that the eggs have strong shells.
More importantly – and as noted earlier – egg production reduces every year after they begin laying. Studies show that egg production reduces at a rate of about 10 to 15% with every passing year.
Therefore, if your Barred Rock chickens gave you 280 eggs in their first year, you should roughly get something around 240 eggs in the second.
In the third year, your estimation should be just under 80% of eggs produced in the first year. You should get in the region of 200 to 210 eggs.
As your chickens continue to age, egg production continues to fall ever rapidly till they retire.
Is a Rooster Necessary for the Production of Eggs in Barred Rock Chickens?
No! Like all other chicken breeds, Barred Rock hens don’t need to mate with a rooster before they start laying eggs.
Once your chickens mature sexually, their bodies prepare to lay an egg every 25 or 26 hours. And it occurs even when no fertilization has taken place.
However, a rooster is necessary to fertilize eggs. That way, they can hatch into chicks when incubated.
What Are Some Signs that Show My Barred Rock Chickens Are Ready To Lay Eggs?
Wondering if your Barred Rock chickens are ready to lay eggs? Here are a few ways you can tell.
Reddening Of Combs And Wattles
When your Barred Rock chickens reach the point of lay, their combs and wattles become larger and redder than before. Combs and wattles that appear rather pale and orangey usually indicate that the hens aren’t ready to lay eggs.
A Lot Of Egg Songs
Chickens that are close to laying usually start getting a lot more vocal. You’re going to start to hear so much cackling, you’re probably going to wish they never went to singing school.
Squatting is the most obvious behavior indicating that your chickens are ready to start laying eggs. It’s also a telltale sign that your chickens are ready to receive a rooster for mating.
To induce this behavior, try placing your hand across the back of your chickens.
If they crouch to the ground, spreading their wings in the process, then you can be sure they’re going to lay soon. Usually in a week or two.
Curiosity Killed The Chicken
Before laying, your Barred Rock chickens are going to start getting curious about the nest boxes. And they’re going to hang around there quite a lot. You might find them sitting in the nest boxes, walking around in there, or moving the bedding around.
It’s advisable to place false eggs in your nesting boxes. That way, your chickens get the message that it’s safe to start laying in there.
Food For Two, Please
To maintain an optimum supply, laying chickens have to convert feed into eggs. And this task takes a toll on their energy levels.
It’s usually hard to tell. But, chickens that are about laying will start to gobble down more food so they’re in great shape to keep the supply running.
There are no words to describe that feeling when you first notice the very first egg(s) from your chickens. More like a deserving pat on your back for an amazing job done!
So, it can be rather unsettling when there’s nothing to show for your efforts after some time of raising your Barred Rock chickens.
Still, Barred Rock chickens hold their own in the world of breeds that are egg-laying machines. Their eggs are brown, large, and they lay a good number of them yearly.
So, if the no-show is causing you to ask – when do Barred Rock chickens start laying eggs? Let me tell you what, they’ll start laying when they’re ready. And when they start, boy will they take some stopping!!