Free Ranging Hens, Confine or Not for 1st Eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Montana-Hens, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    320
    5
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    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    I have 4 hens who free range. When I say free range, I mean the leave home at the crack of daylight and don't return until the end of the day.

    Once daylight hits, I open the coop and give them some kitchen scraps, check their water and feeder (they have them inside and outside) They eat some and follow me out of the hen run. They wander all day long. They have a routine and make the circle a couple times each day. They are serious foragers, but will make a stop or two during the day in the hen yard to finish up morning treats and get some commercial feed.

    They are at the 20 week mark and their comb/waddles are red and have grown every day. I believe that they are near laying thier first eggs. I have no older hens to be their leader. I have golf balls in their nest boxes.

    Here is my question.....Do I start confining the ladies each day until 10 or 11 to help encourage them to lay in the nest boxes? Or do I make the rounds every day to see if they have laid an egg in one of their stops through out the day? As long as they don't lay on their daily rounds don't borrow trouble and confine them.

    My ladies have 3 x 8 coop, with two next boxes are the exterior type, jutting out on one wall. They have a 20 x 50 chicken yard, plus a 20 x20 three sided old shed/shelter, so they can be outside without having to brave all the elements. They also have two next boxes in a back corner of this shet with the golf balls as well.

    Any thoughts....confine or don't confine?
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I would confine so you won't have a guessing game of when they start to lay, and to condition them to laying in the nests. I had to do this with my older hens at first and then, again with the new layers. The youngsters would lay in the nest and then, sometimes, outside. So...I penned them all again and let them out in the evenings to train the three younger girls. You have a pretty big run, so this shouldn't be a problem! [​IMG]
     
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    I agree, I would contain them until they've been laying for a week or so, that way they will know where to lay their eggs and 'hopefully' they will go back to the nest boxes once free ranging to lay their eggs. Sometimes they do... sometimes they don't...
     
  4. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    320
    5
    143
    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    Thanks for all your input.

    My previous ladies, who I rented last year from a 4H'er as part of her market project (who had too many hens, and she wanted to raise $ but not butcher her hens) made their way back to the next boxes in the shed to lay every time.

    I am wondering if I confine them until about 6 and then let them range in the evening before I coop them up would be ok or am I confusing matters? If they were going to lay that day they likely would do it before 6pm wouldn't they?
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Yep! [​IMG]
     

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