Free Ranging and laying....


9 Years
May 14, 2010
If I free range my chickens from morning until dusk, are they going to lay their eggs all over the place, or will they still use their beds? I doubt they'll free rangs as much in the winter, but during good weather I let them out quite a bit. They haven't started laying yet, but will in the next 5 weeks or so. Thanks!


10 Years
Sep 4, 2009
LOL, their beds! Do they sleep in the nests. That would be gross.

Probably they'll lay wherever. But that could depend upon how far away from their coop they will be ranging. Mine range the backyard during the days. They all return to lay in the coop nestboxes. Then again, in any direction, they are only at most 200 feet away.


10 Years
Sep 5, 2009
North Alabama
It depends on how long you have kept them in their "Beds".. If they are used to laying in one spot, then they will most likely go back to the same spot to lay.


9 Years
May 14, 2010
Oh man. I'm out of my league here. I knew it didn't sound right when I typed it.....but now I'm being called out by people named Ms.FuzzyButts and FeatherSnuggles. That's going to take some getting used to!

Thanks for the prompt info. It's crazy how fast I can get answers on this website.


10 Years
Nov 24, 2009
San Clemente, Orange County CA
My 3 girls free range all throughout the day, and have just started laying. I was afraid of the same thing, so I check all around the backyard every evening. It's been two weeks, and I know at least 2 girls are laying. One lays during the night, from the roost (which we are trying to break her of), and the other girl lays midday and she always finds her way to the nesting box to do it. Then she goes back out and joins her sisters in the yard.

I think I got lucky, but they seems to know what do you for the most part. (Although we do have golfballs in the nesting boxes to give them the right idea!)


Love My Chickens
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 28, 2009
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
It wasn't the "bed" comment so much as that you shouldn't be allowing them to sleep in the nest boxes, if that's what you meant they'd been doing.
You don't want them use to pooping up their nest boxes. Many block them off until the chickens are close to laying age.

I would up your chances by putting either wooden eggs or golf balls in their nests when they get around 18 weeks, as Dag suggested. That will help show them that eggs go "here." Since they return each evening to the coop, they evidently consider it "home," so hopefully they will return to lay. If they don't...if you begin finding eggs elsewhere, you may have to put up a temporary run to contain them until they start laying in the nest boxes. Good luck!


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
I have 13 free range hens that all use their nestboxes for their eggs. They sleep on their roosts cuz mama (me) demands it. I won't tolerate nestbox sleeping cuz I'm not going to deal with poopy eggs. I've been known to go out there late at night and if I see someone sleeping in a nestbox, they will get a rude awakening and be plopped down on a roost.

Now to more thoroughly answer your question. What I would suggest is that you lock them up in their coop for about a week from the moment you get your first egg. This will get them used to the idea of a nestbox. If in the long run you suddenly notice a drop in egg production you can lock them up again to see if it's because they are laying elsewhere or because of some other reason. Once used to laying in their nestboxes, they usually get pretty attached to them.


10 Years
Jan 31, 2009
Corning OH
Until last week I free ranged my chicken for 2 years. Some will lay in the nesting boxes and some will lay where ever they want. Then they change spots and lay somewhere else, then go back to the first spot..... It is like Easter everyday. Now, I have a fence and they all lay in the nesting boxes. Much better.


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 31, 2010
Ours are in their large pen until about 4PM, then we let them free range in our yard until they roost. Mine are typically done laying by 4PM, but occasionally one will lay after that and will go back to the hen house to do it.

So they are spending about 5 hours in our yard each evening and for my chickens that seems to be about the right amout of "out" time to keep them laying in the hen house. When we get to 7 hours out a day, then they start laying all over the place. I can't stand having them lay everywhere, guess I am not big into easter egg hunts!

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