Egg Laying Behavior

Have you ever sat quietly and watched your hen lay an egg? Being able to do this is yet another reason to have a coop that you can walk into and spend time in. The Gem’s egg production has been down, so for the last couple of days I’ve spent quite a bit of time observing what is going on (more about that in another post.) In any event, it’s fascinating to watch an egg being laid.

Each hen has a different laying style. Some hop into the nesting box, sit down, and within minutes lay an egg. Others spend a half hour loudly clucking, peering into each box, sitting on top of other hens, moving to another box, making an even louder ruckus, and finally settling into a cubby. That’s Agatha’s style.

looking at boxes

Once she’s in a box she’ll sit for awhile, stand up, circle around, sit back down, and repeat, until she finally gets quiet. It’s almost like she’s in a trance.

in box

This can last for about fifteen minutes, or sometimes more. I know she’s about to lay when she yawns. Next, her feathers stick out, making her look twice her size.


She’ll stand up,


and lay her egg just like that.

stand up

The egg comes out round end first (you’d think that the narrower, pointy end would come out first, but you’d be wrong.) If the nesting box is nicely bedded and if the hen doesn’t reach around to check on the egg, then it will sit there, upright!


Once the egg is laid, most hens ignore it. Agatha does. Off she goes to eat and join her friends.


Agatha is quiet after laying. Not all hens are. Onyx announces her achievement. If you want to hear a loud hen, go here.


  1. I’m guessing that hens can wait until morning to lay an egg that is ready during the night. I find all of this so interesting. Have you figured out why the gems production is down? Surely it has nothing to do with Souixsie as an interloper.

  2. Love this post! Your photos are priceless and really tell a story. In my flock it is June the B Orp that is the Drama Queen. So much so that she seems to enjoy having me watch her lay. She makes sure she has an audience with her loud laughing like crowing and running back and forth into the house until she is sure everyone knows she will be preforming her egg laying show. She is not distracted by me opening the door that opens to the nesting boxes from the outside of the hen house. She just seems to settle and get down to business. She was the latest girl to get started laying and is very proud of what she can do now. I enjoy the show and am impressed with her achievement along with every Hen that labours every day or so to push out an egg!

  3. My coop has nesting boxes that stick out and I lifted the lid to check for eggs a couple of weeks ago just as my Ameraucana stood up and laid an egg. Until then, I didn’t know they stood up. Fascinating to see how fast the shell dries. Just a few seconds really.

  4. I hope egg production isn’t down due to more broodies or worse an egg eater. Hopefully just a secret nest. Oh and I been slow on thinking of names for the young pullets. But the talk of Mr. Grumpy’s bride got me to thinking of the movie Kill Bill. Though I doubt you are a quentin tarantino fan, all got me thinking of the character of the bride in that movie, and how her name was Beatrix Kiddo. So Beatrix will be my suggestion for the Bride’s name. Or it could be in honor or Beatrix Potter too.

  5. When we first got chickens, the first girl to start laying didn’t find the nesting boxes… she found (through a lack of door on our under construction abode) the couch. Everyday she would come in, hop up on the couch, lay her egg, sit with whoever was in there for a minute or two, and then hop down and back outside to rejoin her chicken family. Needless to say, when we finally installed a door she was VERY distraught.

  6. Wonderful pics and info…I didn’t know that the round end came out first. Can’t watch my hens lay but do see them going In and out of their small coop. My husband has promised a big walk in coop by this fall and I can’t wait to spend more quality time with them. I was concerned that my egg production has gone down in the last few weeks too. Yesterday only 3 (out of 8 girls)? I was trying to figure out what might have changed. One thing I did this month was switched from Layena crumble to pellets … Has anyone else had this happen when they changed?

    • A sudden change of diet can affect laying briefly, but they should get right back to their normal schedule.

  7. See. You’re always giving little extras, like… hens yawn. I never thought about that before (non-hen-owner here). Or… round end of the egg first… and that a hen stands up to lay. Thanks for the narrative on that particular egg-laying 15 minutes of Agatha’s day. I learned a lot.

    We’re hoping to have our house up for sale in August. After we sell, on to southern WA state where we will be near daughter and grandkids, and have room for our own GIRLS. Can’t wait! Your site is a constant source of information, and inspiration. Too bad I’m geographically undesirable for a backyard chicken keeping workshop. Would love to attend one.

    • A couple flew out from Seattle for the last workshop. Lots of things to do around here, so you can combine a vacation with a chicken workshop!

  8. Terry: Do eggs from different breeds of hens taste different?

    • No. What makes the difference is what the hens eat. Also, eggs from older hens have a grainier texture than eggs from younger hens.

  9. I LOVE the hen sounds! I always play the YOUTUBE video of Onyx and Etheldred and in your archives the MARGE TAPE as I call it. Would rather listen to the hens than the guys across the street starting up their diesel engine vehicles and motorcycles, and of course the people in back with their dog tied to a tree who barks ALL DAY. Some nights I leave the laptop on and listen for the FLYING SKUNK FARM cameras to come on and hear the roosters crow in the morning! It’s a wonderful way to wake up in the morning!

          • Is that that haunting, “cree-ee, cree-ee” they do together? I got to hear that once, when I bumped into the chicken coop late at night: all the hens made that sound together, the spookiest thing I ever heard! I’d love to hear it again!

            • Another reason to have a walk-in coop. Go in just after they’ve gone to bed. They wake up a bit and all do this coo-coo singing thing. Sounds gentle, happy and low.

  10. My egg production was down too (or so I thought on a hunch I moved the bale of straw in the shed, 8 perfect eggs, on my list, new nesting boxes.

    • I have a FAQ on caring for chickens in the heat. Lots of tips there. #1 is to make sure that they water in the shade where they hang out.

  11. I’ll never forget the first time I saw one of my hens lay. Fascinating! Out of the four girls we have now, only one is extremely loud at announcing her egg.
    Agatha is such a pretty hen!