free range egg layers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Just Fluff, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. Just Fluff

    Just Fluff Out Of The Brooder

    57
    2
    41
    Nov 30, 2008
    Quick question, I want to free range my hens again once spring comes and it warms up a bit more. How can I prevent them from laying eggs elsewhere besides their nesting boxes? I'm thinking of only letting them out in the afternoon, probably later afternoon. Is there any time that they seem to be done laying for the day? I haven't thought to maybe just mark what time the last eggs are laid by, but might be able to get a good guesstimate by picking up the eggs at lunch and see how many more are laid by evening. Any thoughts? I have about 13 hens laying right now, and if I build up my customer base, I don't want to lose them by not being able to find the eggs! At the moment, it would be tough for me to fence in an area, as they share a pasture with horses and cattle.

    Thanks!
     
  2. LeezyBeezy

    LeezyBeezy Chillin' With My Peeps

    439
    0
    119
    Mar 13, 2010
    Lancaster PA
    Mine free range all day, only in the coop at night. They don't lay outside- only in the barn in a few distinct places. Although, my one hen is odd and did lay in another out building. I think letting them out later in the day is a good start. Mine lay mostly in the a.m. too.
     
  3. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    5,312
    211
    311
    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    I let mine free range when I am home so that means that they get to be out almost all day on the weekends. So far they have always gone back to the nest boxes in the coop to lay. I think as long as they have been consistently laying in the boxes you shouldn't have a problem. Just make sure they can get back into the coop while they are ranging about.
     
  4. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,353
    27
    203
    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    First year is the worse when it comes to free ranging and egg hiding. Since chickens get locked up at some point this year due to snow. I would not worry so much about laying outside. That lock up be it for a week or more just bonded them more to laying in nest boxes. You might have a few that break that want to brood but I would not worry too much about it. You should be able to find nest and destroy them. They will go back to laying in coop then.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    113
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Nearly three years of free ranging and I've yet to find an egg laid anywhere but in the nestboxes and believe me I've looked everywhere.
    Let them free range and if your egg count goes down suddenly, without other causes, then start looking. If you find a stash, lock em up again until they remember what their nestboxes are for.
     
  6. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    22,035
    618
    448
    Feb 20, 2008
    Opelousas, Louisiana
    My girls free range on about 1 acre of property but they know to go to the chicken house where the nesting boxes are to lay eggs. I never had problem. The chicken house is in the same area where they roost at night. As soon as they coops are open in the morning, they eat, drink and go to the chicken house to start laying. They lay from 7AM - 5PM.

    Maybe you can keep them locked up for a few days or a week or so where the nesting boxes are so that they will know where to lay eggs.
     
  7. mkearsley

    mkearsley Chillin' With My Peeps

    219
    0
    99
    Jul 19, 2010
    South-west Idaho
    My girls all free range year-round, the only time they are locked up is at night when its really cold. When I first got them, I only had 1 that laid (a Polish). She'd lay everywhere! The fence corner in the tall grass, between some piles of rocks, next to a hole in the tree trunk & even the compost pile! She was very protective of the eggs, and every other time I took the eggs away, she'd find a new place to lay. The only reason I found the eggs in the compost pile was because she was sleeping on them rather than in the house with the other birds! There were 3 eggs! I finally decided (after reading things on here & talking to people) to put a golf ball in the nest I wanted her to use. It took a few days for her to realize that the golf ball "egg" wasn't going to be taken, so I think she figured her eggs would be safe there. She's not laying currently, so I guess come spring I'll see if the attachment to the golf ball is still there. The other 2 laying hens I've got have laid 99.9% of the time in the same nest (I found one egg in a different nest box & one was laying outside, frozen solid, but I think that one was pushed out there, not laid).

    Try using a fake egg, golf ball, ping-pong ball, etc in the nests. If they're used to laying in the same spot, & to the eggs disappearing, I wouldn't worry too much.
     
  8. lsv313

    lsv313 Chillin' With My Peeps

    110
    0
    99
    Jul 23, 2010
    Everett, WA
    I have 8 pullets (only 6 laying so far) who free range all day, everyday. But they have always gone inside the coop to their nest boxes to lay. They seem to magically "know" that that's where they're supposed to go. We did put fake eggs in the boxes before they began to lay so they'd get the point, and then I think the later layers caught on from the earlier ones on what to do. Before they started laying, I was nervous that they'd lay in the yard, under the porch, etc., and we had talked about locking them up for a few days to get used to laying in their coop. But we ended up never having to do it because they figured it out themselves first! They're smart little buggers!
     
  9. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

    11,008
    597
    378
    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    If they are already laying in the area ya want them to they should be fine, but if ya raise them freeranged like mine ya may be doing an easter egg hunt with some of them.
     
  10. ginormous chicken

    ginormous chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    495
    3
    111
    Jan 18, 2011
    Elverta, California
    Same as everyone else. Mine free range all day and everyday (except leaving town or something.) I have a relatively new flock. What seems to work for me, is that I make sure there are a couple of wooden eggs in the nest boxes. That way, when they see it they know where the expectation is. I really don't have a probkem. If you do find them laying everywhere, destroy the nests ASAP and make sure they have access to their nest boxes.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by