There is always confusion over the term ‘Point of Lay’ (POL) used by breeders and others selling pullets (a pullet being a female chicken under the age of a year).
Point of lay is often a bit vague. It’s a term that’s used to describe a pullet that is approaching the point where she will be old enough to lay eggs. The trouble is, the point that she starts to lay varies according to her breed (some breeds mature more quickly than others) and other external factors influencing her development too.
For example, levels of daylight have an effect on the reproduction system so pullets hatched in the spring and raised through the summer will take longer to come into lay in the autumn than pullets reaching maturity in the spring when light levels are increasing.
Most newcomers think that point of lay chickens purchased will be laying after a few days of getting them home, but often, they are some 3-6 weeks away from actually being ready to lay that first treasured egg.
It is better to let them take their time. The longer they take, the more their bodies will have matured and the bigger their eggs will be when they start to lay. Until they are ready, they should be kept on growers pellets which will help them reach their full size.
16 week old Copper Black Marans pullets – they came into lay at 24 weeks old.
If young birds are rushed and put on layers pellets before they are fully grown, there is more chance that they will suffer from a prolapse which can be fatal.
22 to 24 weeks of age is the normal age for chickens to start to lay, some heavy breeds such as Orpingtons can take as long as 26 or 28 weeks but breeders are keen to sell pullets at a younger age to keep costs down so point of lay chickens can sometimes be a lot younger than this.
13 Week old White Orpington Growers. Orpington pullets can take 26-28 weeks to come into lay.
When pullets first come into lay they will take a while to reach ‘full production’ so expect them to take 3 to 6 weeks before they are laying. Pullet eggs are smaller than normal eggs so expect the eggs you get at first to be small at first.
Pullet eggs on the right laid by Cream Legbar pullets. Adult eggs on the left .
If you are unsure of the age of your pullets, keep them on growers pellets until they start to lay their first eggs. You can usually tell when a pullet is ready to lay because her comb will go from a dull pink to a bright red. Once laying, you can gradually change them over to layers pellets over the course of a few days.
Our poultry for sale page lists UK breeders that sell point of lay chickens and has a map to help you find breeders in your area.
If you’re unsure which breed or hybrid to purchase then our chicken breeds page has information on standardised pure breeds and the hybrid chickens page provides lots of information about common hybrid crosses you can buy.
How long have your point of lay chickens taken to come into lay?