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Free range chickens,where will they lay their eggs?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello,
I have free range hens that are close to laying age.I was wondering will they come back to the coop and lay their eggs or will they lay them wherever they are?should I inclose their run so they dont get out?I have ceramic eggs in the nesting boxes,will those encourage them to use the nesting boxes?any advice will be helpful,thank you in advance
post #2 of 7

You have to 'train' new layers to use the nest boxes, if you don't have any experienced layers in the flock. Keeping them confined to their run until the afternoon works well. Once they are all in the habit of using the nest boxes and are laying regularly, you can let them out earlier day. My girls started a nest right in the middle of a wild blackberry patch, when they first started laying. That was the end of free ranging in the morning for my flock. I never want to have to deal with that again.

post #3 of 7

I am interested in hearing everyones answers too. I free range my birds (5 birds) and on Monday I had my first two eggs. Every day since I have just been getting one. During the week I let them out of their tractor at 3:30 once I am back home from teaching. On the weekends they are out from 9 ish till dark. 

post #4 of 7

I have 5 hens that started laying about 5 weeks ago. I feel so bad locking them in their coop all day as I have no run right now. When they first started laying I found a little nest in the weeds close to the coop so I locked them in there for a day here and there to help them get the idea. More recently I've locked them in there for a day here and there if I knew I wasn't going to be around to put them in at dusk. The days I've locked them in I've usually gotten 3 eggs and the days I've let them free range I get either 2 or 3 so some definitely return to the coop to lay, but I think one or two just lay wherever they are when they need to lay. I live on 8 acres and the hens cover probably 2 of it, I haven't found any rouge eggs since that one nest, but I definitely can't cover 2 acres of vegetation to look either. I wish I had a run to keep them contained while still letting them get outside. Honestly though, I'm not even positive they're all laying although I'm sure they are. I don't think I've ever gotten more than 3 eggs in one day, although I've probably only kept them cooped up 4 or 5 days in the last 5 weeks.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Ok so I dont think they are laying but ill enclose the run and if I notice eggs guess ill lock them up for a lil bit,will they be able to be let out after they get the hang of it?they return through the day cuz thats where their food and water is
post #6 of 7

Once they all get the hang of it, then yes, you can start letting them back out. You may have to periodically re-train them, though. 

post #7 of 7

Once they learn that that's where eggs go, they seem to want to lay there. It helps to have golf balls, ceramic eggs, other eggs or something to kinda show them that's where they go. Obviously I'm new at this and certainly no expert, but I have read others opinions and experiences and it seems like confining them either to the run/coop or coop (some have even gone so far as to lock them in the nesting box till they lay and then letting them out) seems to work pretty good. Try to catch any other nesting spots early and make them less desirable than the boxes.

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