Free range egglayers question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dalentam, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. dalentam

    dalentam Hatching

    Jul 3, 2008
    Hello all, I have some newbie questions about our first batch of chickens. We got a mixed batch of 24 chicks this spring (April) and when I got them, I knew I wanted to free range them but I am wondering now that they are roaming the range so to speak, how will the hens know to go into the coop and lay their eggs in the nests? Is this something chickens just know to do? LOL Sorry if that is a stupid question but I was just wondering. I am so looking forward to our own eggs! I was also wondering how long before I can expect them to begin laying? It's been so long since I had chickens on our family farm and I was just a punk kid and dont remember all this stuff.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. spencereb

    spencereb In the Brooder

    Feb 17, 2007

    My hens laid eggs in the nest boxes in their coop when I kept them in their run, they had little/no choice.

    This spring I opened their gate, scared they would not come back, they never leave the yard (big fence). Worried about predation, only problem was my own dog, fixed that. Then, like you, I wondered about them nesting.

    For some time, they continued with their nest boxes provided in the coop, then one day I noticed a hen sitting in one of our old flower pots (not potted, just with last years dirt, weeds & stuff), one egg, right there on the patio.

    I figured, remove their choices in the coop and give them a viable option at the back door. Our back patio has a covered tin roof, and I placed a couple of good nest boxes out there loaded with straw (for those of us in the other thread about shavings).

    It worked, every egg is delivered to my back door before noon! We can actually stand at our kitchen sink, look out the window and can see who is leaving us eggs.

    And the free ranging in the back yard is priceless...backyard chickens for sure! This may not work for everyone, be certain to still take every precaution, but now I would not consider keeping them in their run 24/7. Only when we have company over, maybe.

    Good luck and enjoy their free ranging.

  3. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    Hi dalentam,
    I let all 8 o' my girls come and go as they please and they RELIGIOUSLY lay thier eggs in the nest boxes in the coop. In fact, there are many o' time when both boxes are occupied and the other girls actually wait in line on the perch to git in and lay thier eggs.
  4. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Most of the time my girls go back to their nests to lay their eggs when free ranging.

    However, occasionally I'll find an egg in the barn or somewhere but it hasn't happened very often.

    I think part of the success of this is making sure that your chickens know where to lay their eggs from the beginning. Meaning - make sure they have been cooped up in their coop for at least a week or two before letting them start to free range.
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Ours have always been good about going back to the coop to lay. Even the broodies hang out in the coop. Once in awhile we get one in the run, if the favorite nest box has a broody in it, but that doesn't happen very often.
  6. dalentam

    dalentam Hatching

    Jul 3, 2008
    Ok, thanks for all the feedback. They were in a fenced in coop area for a couple months, and now that we figured it might be safe to try the free ranging, they always go back to their coop several times a day, more than likely to get water maybe so I am really praying that the hens will figure out what those cute little nests are that hubby built in their coop are for! LOL
  7. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Hens like the habit of laying their egg in the same place every day. They will go back in your coop to lay unless there's something they don't like about the nests. If they stop laying there, first check the nests -- are they poopy? or is there a predator like a rat or possum (in my case a possum had crept in and made a hole into the back of the nest and was stealing eggs), etc. If the nest is in good shape, but they are laying other places, just lock them all up in the coop with the nestboxes for 3 days, and they'll start laying their again. Works every time.
  8. Buster

    Buster Back to Work

    My only problem with collecting eggs from my free range hens is that my dog usually makes the rounds collecting them before I can! :mad:
  9. Shannonwbl

    Shannonwbl Songster

    Glad to find this line of questions as we are expecting our free-rangers to begin laying in a few weeks. They don't tend to go back to the coop during the day so I was concerned about where they might start laying.

    My nesting boxes don't have a top. Does that make a difference? I would post a pic, but can't seem to figure that out right now.
  10. robinaggie

    robinaggie Flew the Coop

    May 25, 2008
    My only problem with collecting eggs from my free range hens is that my dog usually makes the rounds collecting them before I can!


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