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Confining Free-Range Chickens so they lay in their boxes

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

My chickens are VERY UPSET!! They are fully free-ranged on 3 acres (I am home all day with them) and they sleep in an insulated laundry room with a separate outdoor entrance at night.  I raised them in the laundry room from chicks and slowly transitioned to letting them free-range.  They always all come into their "house" at night to roost but they are now 21 weeks and I know at least one of them is ready to lay.  I have been searching my yard for weeks for eggs but no trace.  One Black Australorp looks fully developed and is doing the submissive squat when I approach her.  I also have white leghorns and easter eggers (aren't leghorns supposed to lay sooner than australorps??).  

 

Anyway, I decided I should maybe try to keep them locked in their coop in the mornings to see if they will lay in the boxes in there.  I usually let them out around 6 or 7 am and they are SCREAMING.  Is this normal??? I feel so bad!

post #2 of 3

You have nest boxes for them, right?  You might stick a store-bought egg in each nest, just to give them the idea. 

 

I free range as well, and have never had an issue with new layers laying elsewhere, so I doubt you will need to confine them.   But if you do, then just keep them contained for the first half of the day, and then let them out for a few hours in the afternoon.  MOST hens lay earlier in the day (very few late layers here).  Squatting is a good "coming of age" sign in pullets! Some chickens start laying early, 18-20 weeks.  But others don't start until around 24-26 weeks...it varies by breed and by individual.   Whether all the ruckus is tantrums due to being confined or not, who knows...lol.  Many chickens are quite noisy when they are getting ready to lay or have laid an egg too, what is called the "egg song."  Good luck!  They will get there!

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
My goodness! I just went to peek on them and it is one of my white leghorns having a fit. She is soo loud!
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