Layer or Liar? How do you know if your chicken is still laying eggs?
With the price of feed going dramatically up for us in the winter, it’s really important for us to know if our hens are really laying still. I *could* go outside, watch for each one to enter the nesting box, wait for her to deposit her egg, then mark her in a way that I would know she was still laying. But, since I don’t have that kind of time on my hands, there is an easier way to do it.
Check her vent.
Here’s how. Gently hold your chicken and flip her over so you can see her vent. This is her “butt” or where the eggs come out of. You are looking for a moist looking vent. A dry one signals that her laying life isn’t happening.
Next, feel for her keel bone. This is the bottom of the breast bone. Then, place your fingers from the keel bone toward the vent. 1-2 fingers means that she is still laying. 3-4 means that she isn’t laying so well anymore.
Also, feel her abdomen. If it’s nice and soft, you have a layer. Hard and firm, a liar.
Finally, check her comb and leg color. A chicken will “lose” her color from the top down and gain it back in the same order. When she is in full egg production, her comb will begin to lose it’s deep color, on down. If her legs are a bright yellow, her laying life is pretty much over.
With all these signs, the top pictures of each group are from an obvious liar, and the bottom a layer. You have to decide if the liar is worth keeping around. In our cases, personally, they are not and we cull them from the flock. Here’s how to do that for yourself. Keeping lots of “liars” around means that you are providing feed and water, but not getting anything out of it for yourself.
Photo credit morguefile and blog author unless otherwise attributed.