free range & eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by livinggreen, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. livinggreen

    livinggreen In the Brooder

    May 4, 2007
    Clarkston, MI
    I'm "sharing" my yard with 3 completely free range RIR's for the first time this year and would like some advice. They haven't layed any eggs yet but they're coming hopefully in a few weeks. The girls only go into their coop at night, during the day they have the complete run of our 5 acres which is mostly wooded. My question is, how do I find eggs when they do start laying? Will they go back to the coop to lay them or will they just drop them in the woods somewhere? If I do find a random egg in the yard how will I know it is that day's egg and not an old one? How long can the eggs sit outside and still be good?

    I have 2 nesting boxes which they have shown no interest in yet. Should I start keepin them in their run when they start laying? They LOVE having free range as they get to eat lots of bugs and all of my pretty flowers. haha. Spoiled birds.

    Our neighbor was happy to hear that we have chickens because the previous owner of our house had them and their chickens would lay eggs in the neighbor's barn. She loved the fresh eggs every day [​IMG].
  2. Country Gal

    Country Gal Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    I've read that if you put some "fake eggs" in the nesting boxes, the chickens will learn to lay in them. (fake eggs - plastic easter eggs, golf balls, etc).
  3. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    We only raise free range eggs. My suggestion would be to leave the girls in the coop til noon once they start laying, so that they learn where to lay. Once they know where to lay they will go back during the day to lay. In the beginning they will lay under spuce trees or low hanging branches with some cover, like tall grass for example.
    While your birds have access to 5 acres they will prolly only range far enough to use 3 acres at the most and more likely 2 acres depending on the cover.

    Weather would have factor on how long the eggs are good once you find the stash. We normally would find their hiding places and check them often. Keeping them in til they know what to do helps with egg hunts.

  4. tink

    tink Songster

    May 12, 2007
    upstate SC
    I agree. I would keep them in until they start laying. And then a few weeks after that I would let them out. That way they have learned where to lay. This worked really well with my girls.
  5. wren

    wren Songster

    May 27, 2007
    St Augustine, FL
    Old eggs will float in water and fresher ones will sink.
  6. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    We've had free range chickens for a couple of years. We tried the fake egg in the nest thing, without a whole lot of success. If you use a plastic Easter egg, make sure you put a few pebbles in it so it really does weigh about the same as a real egg. Our chickens generally scorn the nest boxes and find their own favorite places; once you've found those, though, you're ok. We even tried making a few nest boxes out of different things, in out of the way places,(these were in addition to the conventional nest boxes). We thought our home made nest boxes would be ideal, but I guess we just can't think like a hen as much as we'd like to. Any eggs we don't think are fit to eat, we put far back in our woods, or anywhere a good distance from our barn...they're always gone within 24 hours. We try to pick up eggs at least once a day, maybe twice; in cool weather you have a little more leeway. If we find a new hiding place where they've laid eggs, we discard all the eggs in it, then add it to our list of places to check every day.
  7. joanc

    joanc Songster

    Apr 26, 2007
    Shafer, MN
    My girls haven't started laying yet but I'm ready with 6-pak of brown wooden eggs I bought at Target for about $5-$6. I found them back at Easter time so I don't know if they carry them year round. The eggs look and feel like the real thing. Good luck.

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