A free range egg dilemma

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sammimom, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Sammimom

    Sammimom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 29, 2009
    Sammamish,WA
    This year our hens have been VERY hard on the grass this winter, in places it's down to mud and we're going to have to replant some fairly large areas come spring. They presently have the run of a fully fenced, moderately treed acre, and do a good job putting themselves to bed at night and laying eggs in their coop, and we lock them up at night. Sometimes a hen will decide to lay a clutch of eggs under a tree, or fern, but usually when I remove the eggs and put a soccer ball in the makeshift nest they go right back to the coop.

    Here's the problem: We have a good sized area of the BACK of the property which is not landscaped, which we don't care if they tear up. We'd like to limit them to this area with temporary fencing while we regrow the grass. Their coop is near the FRONT of the yard. We can't make a "tunnel" or "path" very easily at all to the temporary area, as it would completely block the big double gates we use daily, including for regular yard chores like the riding mower or wheelbarrow moving where a little chicken fence would be an interference.

    I'd be happy to build them a little egg laying coop, as it were, that could go in the back area. My question is, do you think would they use it, or would I just be "training" my hens to lay eggs all over the place? There is a row of nice bushy cedars they like to hang out under, and I do see that being a splendid place to lay eggs. [​IMG]

    I know one suggestion would be to keep the girls locked in their coop with the smaller attached run until eggs are laid each day. The three problems with this are 1) I've got a couple hens I'm pretty sure would start abusing the youngest hens if they were confined long, 2) They make a real ruckus when I even let them out "late" by their perception, and my close neighbors wouldn't appreciate all that noise for a few hours every morning and 3) I've seen the girls lay eggs and nearly every hour of the day, which leads me back to problems one and two if I keep them locked up.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts on this issue!
     
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  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    As long as your new coop had nesting boxes and all the usual amenities, they should do just fine on laying in the nests wherever they are located. A lot of people rotate pasture and move the coop along to new pasture and that's no different than having a coop in each section of range. Just try to make your nest configuration in the new coop similar to the one in the old one and they should take right to it.
     
  3. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    Jul 30, 2012
    Sherwood, OR
    My Coop
    It sounds like having their official coop in the area you want them to destroy ... oops I mean "graze" ... would be a very logical solution. Keep them confined to it for a few days and it will be their new home.

    BTW, I like the tip of putting a soccer ball in an undesirable nesting spot to discourage them from using it again.
     
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