Free Range chickens not laying in their coop. HELP!


10 Years
Sep 14, 2009
OK - at the risk of looking like a complete idiot chicken owner, I have discovered that my four free range hens are laying eggs somewhere other than their Coop. They are about 26 weeks old and started laying slow, or so I thought. Then I was convinced I had at least one, if not two roosters since I was getting so few eggs. I would find maybe one egg a day in their coop, in the nest, where they go at night. Then we had an incident, about two weeks ago, where the coop was not closed, something got in an killed one. After that, for a week or so I was getting one, very soft, egg. Soon it moved back to my one egg a day (but never in the nest). Tonight, while working in the yard, I discovered, in my Black Eyed Susan’s TONS of eggs! I mean, like 2 dozen. I had no idea they were laying there or even how long this has been going on. The flowers are really high, so I would hardly notice the chickens or eggs in them. How can I get them to stop laying there and move to their coop? I would appreciate ANY advice. I let them out every morning to free range and coop them every night. Thanks.
When I thought they were getting close to laying I restricted the outings a bit. I also kept wooden eggs in the nestboxes. No eggs, nothing in the yard either. I kept them in the coop/run for a couple of weeks until midday or early afternoon and the first one to start laying is faithfully using the nestbox. Hope the others will catch on but I'm not going to open the popdoor until maybe 10 am for a few more days. And no free roaming until early afternoon for a couple of weeks....the coop is 8x12 so they have plenty of space. As yours are already laying I would keep them confined in the morning for a few days, put a couple of golfballs or fake eggs in the nestbox(es). Hopefully they'll catch on and lay most of their eggs in the morning and in the nestboxes instead of the flowerbed.....
What fldiver97 said.

I would not allow free ranging for a week. Do you have a secure run? Leave them in there for an entire week and put golf balls in the nest boxes to give them a hint. They will complain and want to get out, but they need to learn where the nest is. I believe this is probably the best method.

Be aware that alot of chickens lay late in the day too, so letting them out midday may still allow them to lay in the yard.

Good luck!
Not sure, depends on temperature outside too. One thing you can try with any egg (I used to do it with storebought eggs) to check for 'freshness': submerge the egg in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will be on the bottom. The older the egg, the more air inside and that means it will start to be kind of upright instead of on it's side on the bottom of the bowl. If it floats it's too old..... I would not use it. Not sure if you suspect eggs to be fertile though...
I know people candle eggs but I 'know nothing about birthing and babies, mam'
Maybe someone else can give you better info...
That's what I came up with too....thanks. Their yard fence is only about 4' high, we're going to cover it with netting so I can corral them for a week or two and then just let them out in the afternoons. I've read about clipping the wings, what are your feeling on that? I don't think I like the idea, not really sure why. It's not painful, but is there a downside?
I had one that had been laying for about 2 weeks then suddenly I kept coming up one egg short. I was finally able to isolate which one was not laying in the coop and spent 3 days trying to follow her around to find her nest. When I found it, it had 8 eggs! I just cracked them in a separate bowl and they were all fine, even in our heat. We ate them for breakfast that day.

When I found her nest she had not laid yet so I grabbed her and took her back to the coop. I locked her in and she was panicky trying to get back to the nest. I use cat carriers and one has the metal door still on it so I closed it with her in it, and stayed while she fussed. It took her a good two hours but she finally laid in the nest box. The next day I spent the time with her again in the coop and she laid in the nest box without too much fuss and me not having to lock the door on her. By the third day she used the nest box on her own and has not laid anywhere else for about 2 weeks now. I live on 8.5 wooded acres so it was not easy to find her nest! I have ceramic eggs that I used in the nests initially.

One other thing, I don't let mine out until 10 am or so and most of mine are done with the laying by then. I think you will find they will lay early in the day once they get established, I very seldom have one after 12 pm. Maybe you can let them out about 1 or 2 pm for a week or so. I have 10 chickens, 6 leghorns and 4 RIR mixes.
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I was so excited today! This morning when I let them out (having kept them in longer than usual), there was the one egg laid under their roost. I took it and put it in a nest box and when I came home from work about 3:30, there were two more eggs with it! I so did the happy chicken dance!
I took the other two and put them in the other nests. And no eggs in the flowers either. I can't wait to see what happens tommorow! BTW - thanks everyone for your advice. How will I know if they are fertilized and if so, can I still eat them?
Same thing happened to me. Got my first egg on labor day and one a day for the next two days then nothing these were all in the nest box. After a week I went and took my 4 year old and really looked around there is a bout a million places she could go we found 4, 2 on the out side of a little old shack and two in it. I found a couple I think after that. Sunday I had my andalusian start laying she laid in next box.(btw while looking for eggs outside found a golf ball and put in nest box). I then got a egg basket with wooden eggs and put them in the nests. She has laid 4 eggs in 5 days and I caught her in the box yesterday and today. Also the brown egg layer has laid in the nest box 2 days in a row now. Haven't check back by the shack but I think she has figured it out now.

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