can chickens refuse to lay at will?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by imaturtlefan, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 4 speckled sussex hens, all about a year old. For a long time I kept waiting for them to lay, but never saw any eggs. I free range my chickens and lock them up at night. I came across a nest in the woods one day, and realized they were laying and hiding them, not broody though. So I started keeping them locked up till noon then letting them out, still no eggs....then tried locking them up till later afternoon, still nothing, then for days, in the run, and still no eggs! But as soon as Id get frustrated and start letting them out again, Id come across another nest in the woods. Ive had others do it, and got them retrained for the coop, or nest boxes, but not these girls. Can they really refuse to lay at will or hold them in till I let them outside, even for a week or 2? This is crazy! Any suggestions?

    I even decided to let them lay in the woods...I marked all the old eggs, so I could just check and remove the new, as soon as I find a nest they abandone it :( These girls are so sweet, and tame, but very, very frustrating when it comes to the egg thing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  2. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anybody? I could really use some ideas...
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Change can cause them to quit laying - every time I introduce new girls into a flock, there's an adjustment period when I don't get many eggs.

    I wouldn't leave eggs out there though, it could attract predators.
     
  4. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There hasnt been any change...its them refusing to lay, unless I let them into the woods. They just will not lay in the hen house or run, Ive been fighting with them about this for months. I keep them penned, they wont lay, as soon as I let them out, they go find a spot in the woods to lay again... its very frustrating.
     
  5. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    What are you using for nest boxes? I'm thinking that if you can offer a really dark, private place that you may convince them. I know my SS's natural instinct was to seek a dark, hidden place in the yard but I noticed her behavior right before the first egg and put the whole flock on lockdown until she'd laid in the boxes. She no longer tries to lay elsewhere.
     
  6. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The nest boxes are attatched to the coop, but protrude out the side. I shouldnt say theyve never laid in the boxes, occasionally...like maybe once every other week one of them will lay in there...if they have been locked up for days. The places they lay in the woods arent hidden really...usually just right at the base of a tree not under brush or anything, the one nest was kind of under a slab of rock that leaned against a tree...but maybe Ill try to put something else in there...maybe a board up that will make one of the boxes more private, but they are already dark, in the far side away from the door, and individual, completely enclosed except the entrance.

    I just thought that if they were given no other alternative after long enough theyd eventually lay in the coop. I didnt realize they could just hold it in or whatever, lol, till they got what they wanted. My neighbor who always gets eggs from me is giving me a hard time, because I have all these hens, and Im getting next to no eggs... my silkie/cochins are all broody, except 1, my poor old EE is just that...getting old, and I have a couple young hens that are just starting to lay...but my 4 sussex are just stubborn...
     
  7. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    I forgot to say that the other thing I did was to put the plastic eggs back in. I'd taken them out when a few of the girls started laying since I figured their eggs and behavior would guide the others. I put the dummy eggs back in because Maggie was holding out and then laying ON THE ROOST in the middle of the day after I'd collected eggs. Once she got it, she got it, though. [​IMG]
     
  8. WalkerH

    WalkerH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Maybe you could try putting something in the woods that they would lay in. I know I've read that some people who let their hens free-range, over a lot of land, will put out little egg laying huts and just check those everyday.
     
  9. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thats a good idea...I hadnt really thought of that, mostly because as soon as I find where they are hiding them again, they stop laying there, but, I may give that a try.
     
  10. imaturtlefan

    imaturtlefan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just put another separate box in the coop and used it to partially block the entrance to another nest box as well, maybe the privacy of one or the other of those will appeal, but also made another one out of wood and put it on the ground in the run thats mostly all enclosed, since they seem to prefer the ground anyway.
     

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