Free range question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mmch618, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. mmch618

    mmch618 Out Of The Brooder

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    My 6 month old buff orphingtons have recently started laying eggs! Sence it is winter time and there is snow on the ground and its so cold i keep them in their coop and run instead of letting them go free range like i do in the summer. They have been laying in their nesting boxes with i was really happy about, but when i do decide to let them go free range in the yard again will they start laying in random places? Or will they still lay in the nesting boxes? I would have to have to run all over the yard and hunt for eggs.
     
  2. memphis

    memphis Overrun With Chickens

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    Mine free ranged during the day before they started laying and they still managed to find their way back to their nest boxes. Since your girls are used to laying in the boxes now I bet that's where they go to lay while free ranging. Mine do. Chickens a creatures of habit!
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    x2 what memphis said, if they are laying in the nesting boxes, they will hopefully continue to do so. It does depend on how attractive your nesting boxes are to them and how your yard is set up, and if there are a lot of spots they could consider making hidden nests in. If they start hiding nests, you can also wait until later in the day after they have laid eggs to let them free range. You can let them out to free range in the winter, they may not go far if there is more than an inch or two of snow on the ground, but they will scratch around any clear spots or paths you make.
     
  4. They should continue to use the boxes. I think you can let them out, if they get cold they will go back in the coop.
    Good Luck!
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It can go either way. I've had birds do both, some wouldn't lay in the coop again for anything!

    Many folks have struck a compromise by not letting the hens out until late am/early pm. Hens are more likely to lay in the early am, so by waiting to let them out, they're still in the coop when they lay. It's not 100%, but it can help. You'll just have to keep an eye on egg production and go on hunts if you're not getting enough eggs.
     
  6. My girls are not free range because I live splat in the middle of the woods-- with a million chicken-eaters including stray pit bulls, hawks, packs of coyotes, raccoons , and all- the-not -wanted-animals, but the chicken raisers that gave us our chickens said if your going to let them free range, let them out after 10:00.(when they finish laying) Or, you will start finding random eggs just here and there around the yard. Also, I have researched this, and chicken books say that you need to let them out after 10:00. Just my personal opinion, but it's your decision. Hope this was helpful.

    -farmgirl02
     
  7. memphis

    memphis Overrun With Chickens

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    Well my girls are out from dawn till dusk and always return to the nest box to lay. Sort of funny watching them run for the coop when it's "time"! Then they will appear in the door singing the egg song when they are done. They are all so dramatic! I suggest you let them out and watch to see what they do.
     
  8. mmch618

    mmch618 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for the advice. I actually let them out this morning and it seems that before i came out they had already all layed their eggs so i dont have to worry about them laying around the yard!
     
  9. memphis

    memphis Overrun With Chickens

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    Cool! They will love being loose!
     
  10. SusieBuddy63

    SusieBuddy63 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello :D

    I have about 30 chickens and they are free range all the time. I do have a really nice coop my husband built me but I don't have a run. They just go out their little chicken door in the morning when I open it and have access to my entire property. I live on 5 acres and they explore every bit of it! Then about dark, I go back outside after they have all come back in and shut the little door. Easy peasy!

    The majority of my hens do lay their eggs in the nest boxes in my coop. I do have 2 or 3 that go to my barn every day and lay their eggs in an old plastic protein tub that used to feed my horses... They kept on laying in there so I finally gave in and just keep it up with fresh hay every now and then.... All the other hens do go back into the coop to lay their eggs though :D

    I love that my chickens are free range all the time.. the Coop stays much cleaner because they are only in there at night or to lay eggs. Plus, they catch lots of bugs and even mice from time to time! They are quite the hunters once they figure it out... LOL

    I do live in Southeast Texas where the weather is much more mild, and I can see if it were snowing and really freaking cold I'd probably keep them inside as well...

    On occasion I will find an egg in the middle of my lawn... ?!?!?!??? LOL
     

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