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Will free range hens return to coop to lay?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Just got some pullets almost ready to lay and want to start out right. If I let them out of their coop before they lay in the morning to free range in my large city backyard  is it likely that they will return to use the nesting box to lay or  will this likely to encourage them find their own nest somewhere in the yard?  Don't want to hunt all over the yard for eggs but would rather not make them stay until they lay. 


Edited by Robin12 - 11/5/15 at 7:19pm
post #2 of 9

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post #3 of 9

All five of ours did!  We first put them in the coop for a couple of days (without letting them out).  We had the nesting boxes blocked off.  They immediately returned to the coop for roosting after that.  Then, when they started showing signs that they were just about ready to lay we unblocked the nesting boxes.  We put a couple of fake wooden eggs that my husband made in two of the boxes and a golf ball in the third box.  All five hens are using all three boxes every day.  And they are free range in our back yard in the city.  Hope this helps!

post #4 of 9
Generally, yes, though they can/do go rogue sometimes. When they stay laying it is a good idea to keep them penned for a bit to get them in the habit of using the nest boxes and if you notice a sudden drop in your egg counts once they are ranging it can indicate a hidden nest is in use. I've never had any major issues with hens not going in to lay
Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #5 of 9
I have wondered if the finding other nests when free ranging depends on how far they range. We are on a 900m2 town block and in two years found an egg in the back garden maybe 3-4 times. They were never hidden though, but rather you could see them on the ground so think it was a caught short kinda thing and always in the furthest area in our yard from the coop.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast one though that had a large flock and a huge horse paddock next to it. The lady was saying she couldn't let them out to free range till after lunch otherwise they got no eggs in the boxes, they laid them in the paddock.

I wondered if the further they can wander the less they can be bothered walking all the way back to the coop.

Aussie Mum to
our sizzle Al

our neurotic Partridge Silkie Penny

and our sweethearts the Salmon Favorelles girls, Colonel , Winry & Carl
And our big girls the Australorps, Pepper, Blackie and Tonio

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Aussie Mum to
our sizzle Al

our neurotic Partridge Silkie Penny

and our sweethearts the Salmon Favorelles girls, Colonel , Winry & Carl
And our big girls the Australorps, Pepper, Blackie and Tonio

Reply
post #6 of 9
My girls lay in the afternoon and so far they Have always managed to make it back to the coop to lay. I let them out around 1p.m. some days (it's later other days) and I get eggs around 3 or 4 p.m. I haven't found a secret stash in the yard yet. In the beginning I kept them in the run so they were close to the nest boxes and got used to using them.We have three acres but they don't roam the whole lot, they stay close to the coop.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ok great thanks, I may try letting my one layer out earlier and see what happens.  Just wondering too why did you block off the nesting boxes before they were ready to lay? Is there a reason other than the poop issue that you don't want them sleeping in the nesting boxes?  Reason I ask is I have the one 6 month old who just started laying and 2 younger pullets in the same coop. The younger ones like to sleep in the nest box sometimes. I just clean it out in the morning early before the other one is ready to lay. Its a plastic tub with a lid and has a hole cut in the side, so not to  big deal to clean.  I don't know what else to do besides divide the coop until the others start to lay which I will do if there is another reason they should not be sleeping in there. If they sleep in the nesting boxes will they not want to lay in them? 

post #8 of 9
Most people discourage sleeping in the nest boxes so poop doesn't get on your eggs. Chickens do most of their pooping at night when they sleep. If they sleep in the box then come along during the day and lay eggs your eggs will probably get dirty.
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin12 View Post
 

Ok great thanks, I may try letting my one layer out earlier and see what happens.  Just wondering too why did you block off the nesting boxes before they were ready to lay? Is there a reason other than the poop issue that you don't want them sleeping in the nesting boxes?  Reason I ask is I have the one 6 month old who just started laying and 2 younger pullets in the same coop. The younger ones like to sleep in the nest box sometimes. I just clean it out in the morning early before the other one is ready to lay. Its a plastic tub with a lid and has a hole cut in the side, so not to  big deal to clean.  I don't know what else to do besides divide the coop until the others start to lay which I will do if there is another reason they should not be sleeping in there. If they sleep in the nesting boxes will they not want to lay in them? 

The younger birds may be sleeping in the nests because the older birds will not allow them on the roost.

I put up separate roosts for younger birds to avoid this problem, also block the nests in late afternoon then unblock when I lock up after dark.

Not sure what the best solution would be for you unless I know what your coop and roosts look like and how many birds you have and when you got them all, same goes for nests.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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