Accessibility to Egg Boxes

Mark Whatley

Chirping
Aug 8, 2020
51
85
86
My question concerns my birds' access to their egg boxes in the coop. This is my first foray into chicken-daddyhood. My yard is divided by a privacy fence and a retaining wall, which separates the main back yard area from where the coop is in the back. I frequently move the birds into a "free range" area that is separated from their coop. I have to physically move them from the coop and let them walk through a hole in the fence to get to their free range area. At night they line up at the opening and wait for me to pick each one up and put them in the coop. There are no egg boxes in the yard where they spend a lot of time. The birds are Buff Orpingtons and a little over 5 months old.

The thing I'm wondering about is when they do begin to lay, is being restricted to the back yard without their coop or egg boxes going to interfere with them? Do hens instinctively go to or seek out a nest before she lays? Is there particular behavior or other signs I might see leading up to laying eggs? Suggestions and ideas appreciated?
 

Friendly_Lurker

Free Ranging
Jan 27, 2020
1,838
7,416
516
Kansas
When young hens start to lay, their combs typically turn red. They will all probably choose one or two nesting boxes and all fight over them and only lay in those, and if they don't have access to boxes they will lay in the yard. They like privacy, darkness if possible, and a hollow in the ground or hay. I hope this helps!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,833
35,673
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
If you don't give them access to nest boxes they'll choose where they want to lay, so anticipate going on egg hunts in the grass and bushes. No they won't "hold it in" or lay when you want them to, and it's impossible to expect to run out there to physically move them each time one wants to lay (unless you never leave your yard during the entirety of the day, ever?)

Might want to rethink your layout, or consider building nest boxes for use in your free range area as well.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,545
143,342
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SW Michigan
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I have to physically move them from the coop and let them walk through a hole in the fence to get to their free range area. At night they line up at the opening and wait for me to pick each one up and put them in the coop.
Gosh, that would get old quick here.
Agrees with @rosemarythyme you might want to rethink your setup.

Is there particular behavior or other signs I might see leading up to laying eggs?
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/who-is-laying-and-who-is-not-butt-check.73309/
 

Mark Whatley

Chirping
Aug 8, 2020
51
85
86
is it possible to make a tunnel from coop to free range area? so that they can access their coop whenever they want, and go lay their eggs in the nest boxes when they are ready
Probably so. I’m giving that some thought. Thanks.
 

James head

Chirping
Jan 12, 2020
30
40
51
I have an idea that might support the tunnel idea. Johnny's Seed offers pre-bent wire hoops, in which form a tunnel for frost protection. They are covered by a product called [email protected], this material is ultra-light, woven, somewhat transparent fabric. The grass within will keep growing, will not die. Easiest thing to keep the Remay in place is a piece of pipe or bricks, any thing of weight. This is a cheap way to make a tunnel that is readily moveable and cost far less than wire.
 

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