Free range? what are the signs they will be laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chicks47, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Hi, I have 5 girls - first season for us here. They are just 18 weeks old. I have been reading around the forum here that many of the chickens start laying around 19 - 21 weeks. So I know we are getting close![​IMG]
    Couple questions I have:
    1. What are the 'signs' that your chickens will be laying soon or are laying?

    2. My chickens free range in the day, do I need to keep them contained to their coop more so they learn to use their nests? Then once they learn to lay their eggs there, can they free range, will they return to the nesting box to lay eggs.
    If they start laying out and about, I hope to know the signs so I can check around.

    3. I have read about the golf balls / fake eggs... when do you start putting those out? Do you just put them in the box and leave them there?

    Thanks for your help. BTW I have an orpington, buff orph, RIR, Ameraucana, and one?

    Waiting for the first egg is like an expectant parent! You know it is going to happen eventually, the baby is coming! When, today, next week? When!......

  2. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    As a hen gets close to reaching her sexual maturity, her comb will develop more and get bright red. She may squat when you approach her (sort of lie down flat and spread her wings out a bit). This is what she'd do for a rooster so he can climb on and mate with her. She may also pick up small twigs or bits of grass and throw them over her shoulder (I find this hilarious to watch).

    Her first egg may catch her a bit unawares so that she drops it where she happens to be at the moment. But she soon starts looking for a nice, safe, dark, sheltered place to lay. She'll prefer someplace another hen has already laid (or what looks like a place another hen has laid). That's where the golf ball comes in. If I were you, I'd have my nestboxes ready with a golfball or other kind of fake egg in it, and hope the hens get the idea right from the beginning.

    My hens are quite fussy and determined about where they want to lay. I have nestboxes in daytime tractors as well as in different coops, and since it's been so hot here lately, I also keep a nestbox on our covered breezeway that's shaded all day. Sometimes a hen will try out all the nestboxes several times in succession before she decides which one she wants to lay in at that particular moment. It's very cute to watch a hen standing patiently at our screen door waiting to be let inside the breezeway!

    The first egg you get is a real marvel. I photographed ours, held it, admired it, almost bronzed it. Then ate it. It was great.
  3. isingtomychickens

    isingtomychickens In the Brooder

    Aug 26, 2010
    We free range too. We have been doing it here in ME for 2 years. Our chickens have layed in the boxes from day one-- we didn't even use golf balls or fake eggs. My brother-in-law tried them and his chickens refused to lay in the boxes until he took them out. It depends on your chickens. Once in awhile a newbie will lay an egg in the yard under the slide or the porch, but 99% of the time they are in the boxes. I will warn you that, in our case anyway, the chickens cluck VERY LOUDLY when laying and the one time I saw one laying in the yard I thought there was something wrong with her. She was walking funny and looked all puffed up, then she squatted and started kind of yelping/clucking. Then, she stood up and walked away as if nothing happened leaving a shiny egg behind. I tell you this because my girls (3 & 8) saw this and got a little freaked out. Anyway, enjoy!
  4. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    what elmo said.
    I have a hen that lays in the nest box and a pullet that just started laying. I tend to leave the hen egg in the nest til the pullet lays her egg. but I do also have a rock egg in there too for the days I'm not expecting the hen to lay. only problem is I've had some cracked eggs because the lay their stinkin eggs right on top of the fake. I need to get some plastic eggs. I keep thinking my other pullets are going to start laying too because they go in the nest box with the 1 thats laying and help nest it up. believe me when your pullets are ready to lay eggs you will know. I told my dh and mother that my pullet was going to start laying eggs and sure enough she did the next day.
  5. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Thank you both for your input. We anxiously await!

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