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Advice needed - what to do after a runaway returns

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I have a small flock, three hens. One EE who is just about to start laying and is the youngest. Our yard is fully fenced in, but I think this afternoon the gate was slightly ajar for a short amount of time because I went out and the EE was gone. We searched all afternoon around the neighborhood and saw no signs and concluded a predator must have gotten her, because we figured if she did get out she would have been preoccupied in our front yard for a while and not much time had passed. Then, about 15 minutes before roosting time, she appeared in our driveway. Clearly a bit on edge and discombobulated (she wouldn't go for any treats to coerce her into the yard). Anyway, she's in the coop tonight safe and sound but I'm wondering if I should keep her in the coop and run for a day or two? I'm worried she has a taste for adventure now. Not sure if it's related, but her comb just turned red and I think she's very close to laying, maybe that scrambled her brain a bit? Any advice appreciated!
post #2 of 2
My old roommate had an EE hen that would escape the backyard and roam the neighborhood all morning before coming back to lay. Sometimes, she would help herself to the scraps left at the base of a wild bird feeder a neighbor had in her front yard. We found out later that she would sometimes lay an egg in that neighbor's flowerpot.
I guess the winter before I moved in, Henny Penny (the adventurous EE) had disappeared. My roommate assumed she had fallen fate to her courage and a stray dog had caught her. That was until spring came along and Henny Penny showed up in the yard again. It was later discovered that she had found warm shelter under another neighbor's house and survived off food scraps and scavenging. Since then, she's had a few close calls with stray dogs so she doesn't venture out as often or as far.
While it always made her nervous having her out of the yard so much, the consolidation was that Henny Penny's eggs were noticeably tastier than the other eggs, even though they were free range too. One time, her Barred Rock friend tried going with her, and that first morning the BR got scooped up by a stray dog right off the porch. Apparently, she wasn't as street smart as Henny Penny.
If she's gotten a taste of adventure, locking her up won't make her forget. Really, whether or not she tries venturing off again is more dependent on how successful her voyage trip around the neighborhood went. If she came back a little frazzled, then there is the possibility that it wasn't pleasant and she won't try it again. Now, since she's on the verge of laying her first egg, she may be trying to find the perfect spot to lay her eggs. That's the best reason there to keep here locked up. Once a chicken finds the perfect spot, it's hard to get them to lay anywhere else. So, you may want to make sure her "perfect spot" isn't outside her coup. If she does disappear again, don't fret, there's a good chance she'll be back in the coop and in her favorite perch location before the sun has set and the best part is, you'll have a tasty egg waiting for you to appease your worry.
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