Tips for New Hen Owners


March 10, 2017 - Author:

Know your hens
  • Egg laying breeds of chickens typically begin laying eggs around 20 weeks of age.
  • A good goal for first year laying hens is four eggs per week per hen.
  • As your hens age, their nutrition requirements change. Tip: switch to layer feed at 20 weeks of age.
Caring for your flock
  • Clean, fresh feed and water should always be provided. • Waterers and feeders should be kept clean.
  • Nest boxes may be introduced at 17 weeks of age to help encourage hens to lay eggs in these clean spaces.
  • Collect the eggs at least once a day, more often in hot weather.
  • Control rodents, flies and beetles around your hens.
  • Keep your coop’s bedding and nest boxes dry.
  • Change and refresh your hens’ bedding weekly. Tip: dedicate one pair of shoes for this task.
  • Do not use eggs that are excessively dirty.
  • Wash all eggs before they are put in the refrigerator. Tip: use a brush and water that is warmer than the egg.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you interact with your hens! Salmonella, a bacteria that can make people sick, can spread from your hens and their eggs to you.
Get involved
  • Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has many hands-on opportunities for youth (5-19 yrs. old) to learn more about poultry through 4-H.
  • Contact your local MSU Extension office to find out about programs in your area. Visit to explore opportunities, to find your county office or call 888-678-3464.
  • Sign-up for the MSU Extension Poultry Newsletter to get poultry-related news and events delivered right to your inbox. To subscribe, text “MSUE” to 22828 or visit and click on “Newsletter Sign-Up.”


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