I'm a first-time flock-keeper with a mixed flock of a dozen 27 week old pullets. I have suspected that several of my girls may be laying elsewhere - lots of submissive squatting and very red combs and wattles, but the number of eggs in the nesting boxes wasn't adding up. However, I'd been unable to find a hidden nest anywhere in their area of the yard and was thinking maybe I just had a few late developers.
With all the torrential rain in Texas, the girls were confined in their coop and run for the last few days instead of being allowed to free range. We got six eggs one day and five the next - more than our usual. Today they were back to free ranging and we had only three eggs in the nesting boxes, so I set out on an egg hunt. Sure enough, I found three eggs under a tree in a newly constructed "nest" near the coop and run - based on the colors (pale tan - almost pink - and a light brown) I'm thinking these are the girls lowest on the pecking order, my two Buff Brahmas and one of my Buff Orps.
So.... is there any harm in letting them lay in the yard or do I need to try and convince them to lay in the nesting boxes? If so, how on earth do I do that??! LOL! I have kept a golf ball in every nesting box since about week 20 just to "remind" everyone that's what they're for....
Thanks in advance for any help and suggestions!