Free Range Birds: How do I make sure they lay in their nest box?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by banananutmuffin, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. banananutmuffin

    banananutmuffin Out Of The Brooder

    My chickens are "accidentally" free range. (They have a fenced yard, but every morning they fly over the fence and spend the whole day in the field/woods beside me.) As far as I know, they haven't started laying yet, but I expect they will soon (they were born April 10, give or take).

    I tried putting a fake plastic egg in the nest box to encourage them to lay there, but they just toss it around and play with it. It ends up in pieces in the corner of the coop.

    Any other tips for ensuring they lay in their nest boxes rather than somewhere out in the field?
  2. Impress

    Impress Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    Gray, TN
    My hens always pecked the little plastic eggs out of the nest and open, as if they were mad I tried to fool them. I got some white wooden eggs from a craft store for 99 cents and those work like a charm, they are the correct weight and feel for them. A lot of folks here have had good luck with golf balls as well. You may want to make it easier for them to cruise into the coop to lay, a girl about to lay is probably not going to want to scale a fence to get to a proper nesting box when there are plenty of nature nests at her disposal.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The fake eggs do help, but there is no guarantee. You'll just have to wait and see what happens. Mine free range but generally go back to the nests to lay. When it is time, they just march back. Occasionally one will decide to lay somewhere else. I generally lock them all in the coop and run for about a week to get them back in the habit of where to lay. That doesn't happen often, but I have had to do that a few times. Sounds like that could present some challenges for you. Any way you could raise the fence?

    About them tossing the eggs out. How high is the lip on your nests? Mine were scratching bedding and fake eggs out, so I raised the lip to about 5" to 6". That solved that problem.

    I was using, the plastic Easter eggs, half filled with sand and glued shut. But eventually they broke them open even with the glue. Now I use golf balls.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by