Free range or keep in coop until first egg?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by maui chicks, May 14, 2011.

  1. maui chicks

    maui chicks Hatching

    Mar 3, 2011
    Our 12 chicks, which we've raised since a day old, are now three months old.

    My husband and I are raising them on nearly two acres on Maui, which has a good year-round climate and fewer predators in our area. They are in a good-sized coop with a 6x6x10 foot fence attached so they can hang out outside during the day.

    We are wondering if we should let them start free range outside the coop, even though they are three months away from egg laying age.

    Some advise us to keep them in the coop until they start laying eggs, so we're not hunting eggs down around the property.

    But they're already the size of feral chickens and, again, the area is safe. They seem to be getting antsy, as are we, and I'm wondering if we should chance it and let them hang out outside. But to be safe, and to ensure egg-laying in a consistent spot, maybe we should keep them in the coop until after they start laying?

    Any advice is appreciated!

  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Nah, don't keep 'em in the coop til they lay eggs! Put egg facsimiles (golf balls are easy and work) in the nests. They'll see those and their little brains tell them, "Hey, look, somebody else thinks that a good place to lay an egg. I think I'll use it too."
  3. jennh

    jennh Songster

    Jun 21, 2007
    I'm with the crowd that says keep them in until you are sure they know where to lay. Mine were laying all over the place at first. Now I keep them in until after lunch. They are usually done by then, and if not, they know where to lay now. It's comical to see one running back to the coop at breakneck speed because of the urgency to lay [​IMG]
  4. Nuzzy

    Nuzzy Songster

    Mar 15, 2010
    Allegan, MI
    Another vote for let 'em range and just keep fakies in the nest boxes once close to laying age. Works for us anyways. [​IMG]
  5. vtgirls

    vtgirls Songster

    May 20, 2010
    We let ours range and they went back to the nest boxes to lay without even a fake. Just yesterday we moved our now year old hens to a new coop and we did NOT let them roam [​IMG] and they all did lay in the new boxes in the new coop today! I am all for let them be out and be happy and munching the good things they find themselves...... happy hens = happy eggs!

  6. AnaD

    AnaD Songster

    Jan 27, 2011
    N. Ca
    Mine have free ranged our large yard since 3 weeks (fenced). The first two eggs we got were in the nest boxes. Later eggs went misssing and we found them under a palm frond in a secluded area of the yard. After putting a golf ball in the nest box we haven't had a problem since [​IMG]
  7. jennh

    jennh Songster

    Jun 21, 2007
    I *DO* let mine free range, but I don't let them out 'til it's afternoon. It just is easier for me, since I work 'til lunch time, and I live in a development. I don't want them destroying the neighbor's flowerbeds. They have the rest of the day to free range then.
  8. NYRIR

    NYRIR Songster

    May 13, 2010
    Quote:[​IMG] Yep, worked for me.
  9. lsv313

    lsv313 Chirping

    Jul 23, 2010
    Everett, WA
    It also worked for ours to let them range all over but just put a fake egg in. Every single one of them knew to begin laying there, and we've never had a problem.

  10. maui chicks

    maui chicks Hatching

    Mar 3, 2011
    Mahalo to each and every one of you for your replies. We got great feedback and are a ton relieved about your relaxed attitudes. We're WAY protective of our chickens -- other people think we're crazy for putting so much time and energy into raising our "guava girls," as we call them (they LOVE guavas). We want to be careful, but not too careful, letting nature take its course.

    Thanks to this forum, we obviously found a great group of "chicken-loving crazies" where we fit right in.[​IMG]

    Verdict: FREE THE GUAVA GIRLS:cool:!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by