Does early free roaming time prevent egg laying? Questions from a new keeper

Mrs Lackford

In the Brooder
May 30, 2020
12
19
26
Good morning BYC

I have 3 Warrens who are about 20 weeks. 2 are laying and one (Mouse) is yet to start. One (Frida) lays relatively early, and the other (Nancy) any time from 11pm-2pm. Should I keep them in their run until they have laid? Or can I let them out to roam & will they find their way into their coop to the nesting box of their own accord? Would a chicken delay laying while it is free roaming?

They have a reasonable run but when I am able I let them free roam the garden which is very large. This needs to be supervised as it is not predator-proof. At 4 weeks in, so far, when roaming the chickens have not wandered back into their coop of their own accord. They follow me in when they are being 'put away' so they do know where it is but I am unsure if they would know to go back in and lay. I appreciate they could find somewhere to lay in the garden but I'd prefer to keep it in the nesting boxes as that is where they have laid so far.

As we are currently at home all the time there is not much in the way of routine - they are let out to free roam when they can be, but their run is plenty big enough that they can be kept in etc.

With the weather getting ever hotter, the best time of day for them to enjoy the garden is early morning, and as I am an early riser I would like to let them have this time but I don't want it to mess up what might be a fledgeling laying routine... Really grateful for any advice available - thanks in advance.


P.S. As an aside, they have access to water and food etc when free roaming, but often get really far away from them as it is a large space. Do they need multiple sources? I don't want to keep moving them as they roam because I don't want them to get confused as to where they are... but can the space be too big for them to remember? (They also have this in their run obviously) but again don't tend to head back in until either roosting time or if I encourage them.

Thanks!

Mrs L
 

The Happster

Happs
Premium Feather Member
Apr 5, 2020
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I personally wouldn't worry about letting them out. The chances are they will go back to the pen. Once they begin to lay in the right place especially. Mine have ranged all day every day practically and when they began to lay have always layed in the eggbox.
How big is the area you let them roam in?
I have three acres, but mine only cover about one and a half/ two of it. I still keep a couple of places they can get to water just because it's easier. The water can quickly evaporate or be drunk & I have a couple of hens that might be scared off. You might not have to.
 

Mrs Lackford

In the Brooder
May 30, 2020
12
19
26
@OneHappyRooster Thanks that’s really helpful!

They have about 2 acres to roam and seem intent on exploring all the parts I don’t want them in! I suppose that’s where the most interesting bits are - the lavender is taking a bit If a beating at the moment!
99A78657-414A-4173-9020-7739F41D3D1C.jpeg
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
17,609
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My Coop
My Coop
Free ranging won't delay their egg laying but you may well find that they make nests outside and lay in them rather than in the coops. This is worth bearing in mind for those days when you can't find one of them!
Two acres is a sizable area to monitor but chickens are creatures of habit and they will have preferred shelter spots. Once you've identified where they are a water source near them might not be a bad idea. Extra food stations are probably not necessary given they'll forage while out and about.
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
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Gower, Wales
seem intent on exploring all the parts I don’t want them in!
I'm afraid you'll have to fence/net off the parts you want to preserve, if the plants in question are on the delicate side and attract the chooks. A robust plant can stand quite a lot of pecking, and a strong perennial can outgrow the pecking zone before being killed by it, but I provide temporary protection for those plants which need it when they need it. In time, natural selection works to leave you with the plants that can cope with free ranging chickens!
 

Mrs Lackford

In the Brooder
May 30, 2020
12
19
26
Free ranging won't delay their egg laying but you may well find that they make nests outside and lay in them rather than in the coops.
Thanks Shadrach, is this something that is quite obvious and takes a while or might I not notice and just realise I have a quiet/missing chicken!? They only seem to go quiet/sneaky at the moment when they're doing something naughty!


In time, natural selection works to leave you with the plants that can cope with free ranging chickens!

Thank you Perris and hello!

I just have to hope that my incredibly garden-proud husband agrees that the chickens are superior to his plants!
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
4,148
18,566
777
Gower, Wales
I just have to hope that my incredibly garden-proud husband agrees that the chickens are superior to his plants!
good luck with that one! If it's any help, show him this
Power-of-one-chicken-724x1024.jpg

I've lost a few plants, but my garden as a whole is a lot better - healthier, and wildlife-friendlier - for having them free ranging in it. And they're very entertaining to boot!
 

Zeeb

Songster
Oct 15, 2017
62
110
106
Maui, Hawaii
Good morning BYC

I have 3 Warrens who are about 20 weeks. 2 are laying and one (Mouse) is yet to start. One (Frida) lays relatively early, and the other (Nancy) any time from 11pm-2pm. Should I keep them in their run until they have laid? Or can I let them out to roam & will they find their way into their coop to the nesting box of their own accord? Would a chicken delay laying while it is free roaming?

They have a reasonable run but when I am able I let them free roam the garden which is very large. This needs to be supervised as it is not predator-proof. At 4 weeks in, so far, when roaming the chickens have not wandered back into their coop of their own accord. They follow me in when they are being 'put away' so they do know where it is but I am unsure if they would know to go back in and lay. I appreciate they could find somewhere to lay in the garden but I'd prefer to keep it in the nesting boxes as that is where they have laid so far.

As we are currently at home all the time there is not much in the way of routine - they are let out to free roam when they can be, but their run is plenty big enough that they can be kept in etc.

With the weather getting ever hotter, the best time of day for them to enjoy the garden is early morning, and as I am an early riser I would like to let them have this time but I don't want it to mess up what might be a fledgeling laying routine... Really grateful for any advice available - thanks in advance.


P.S. As an aside, they have access to water and food etc when free roaming, but often get really far away from them as it is a large space. Do they need multiple sources? I don't want to keep moving them as they roam because I don't want them to get confused as to where they are... but can the space be too big for them to remember? (They also have this in their run obviously) but again don't tend to head back in until either roosting time or if I encourage them.

Thanks!

Mrs L
I have 3 acres and used to let my chickens roam and then put them in their coop in the evening (it's 30 by 40 ft). However they started laying in different places and it was hard to find the eggs because I have lots of hedges, trees, and ferns. Another problem was chicken doo everywhere they actually would walk into my house if I left a door open, jump on my car, and make a mess all over my deck and sidewalks. I also lost a few hens to dogs and mongoose. I felt bad because they wouldn't have died if I had kept them in the coop. So although I wanted them to be free range and roam to their hearts desire, in the long run I felt I wasn't being a good chicken keeper by endangering their safety. It's up to you but think about any predators around and also other hazards in your yard poisonous plants, etc.
 

MANNA-PRO

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