Free Ranging Hens Laying Elsewhere

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cockadoodle-doo, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. Cockadoodle-doo

    Cockadoodle-doo Chirping

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    We have had chickens for a couple of years now. We have tried to let them free range as much as possible, but we lost one of our girls kind of quickly to a bob cat and reeled it in a little for safety reasons. They have a large run that is covered with fun stuff in it that has kept them happy, but they are the happiest when out and about .They have gotten really good at staying on our property and coming when called so the last few weeks we have been really letting them free range all day. They have been loving it. However, the last few days have gone from 7 eggs a day to 3. I'm pretty confident they are laying somewhere else and not coming back to the trusty nesting boxes. I am really loving that they have been out but I also don't want to miss out on eggs...any suggestions or is it one over the other??? I guess I should also mention our property has a few acres of dense woods with great coverage and high places to perch so even the thought of trying to find them wouldn't work.
     
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  2. Sorya C

    Sorya C Songster

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    Hi! I'm like you, I love to let my hens free range as long as I can, our yard is also quite big, but we have never had any problems with our hens laying elsewhere than their nesting boxes. The runs can be amazing and the hens will still want to go outside, it's always more fun! But, even if they want to go outside it doesn't mean they hate their run,so you shouldn't have to feel bad about leaving them in there for a while. Anyways, all this to say that, you should just wait until everyone, or mostly everyone has layed their eggs before leaving them go outside. I personally, have never had to keep them in the run until the afternoon because my hens all lay in the morning so this worked well for me. You would just have to see how your hens are. Also, I wouldn't leave them lay outside because it an attract animals.
    I hope I helped, good luck! ;)
     
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  3. Trux

    Trux Songster

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    Only way I have found where they lay is to watch them...we all know how are chickens start acting when they are ready to lay. If you can keep an eye on them they may lead you right to where the spot is. usually under a low hanging bush
     
    Foxy_Lady likes this.
  4. Cockadoodle-doo

    Cockadoodle-doo Chirping

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    I think this is exactly what I am going to do!!! Thanks a ton!!! The girls have been so happy being out and they don't mind their run. In fact, for how much room they have to roam they tend to stay somewhat close, not only for water but it is also covered so they know it is a safe haven. They do all lay in the morning and the good thing is I know exactly who my wandering egg layers are so I will make sure they have at least laid before I let them loose. Thanks again for the idea!!!!!!
     
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  5. Cockadoodle-doo

    Cockadoodle-doo Chirping

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    Also a good idea!!! And now that I think of it my ladies do some loud celebrating each and every time they lay...so if I don't catch them before I can certainly catch them after ha ha ha!!!!
     
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  6. Maugwa

    Maugwa Chirping

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    This isn"t meant to be a solution or anything, just a story of one crazy barred rock hen that I think is amusing. I have now 14 hens and one rooster, four of the hens are barred rock. I call one Stubby, because she has one short toe and has had since she came from the farm store. My coup has three nice nesting boxes and all the other 13 use them always, but not Stubby. Late last Summer a month or so after she started laying, she figured out how to get out of the back yard. There is a six foot fence around 2 acres, and they almost never leave it, and once in a great while when one does, I usually find it lonely, by the gate, wanting let back in. Except for Stubby, she got to where she got out every day, not for long though. There is a large red wood deck out my back door, the railings of which are a little taller than the fence, about 7' from the ground. The stairs down from the end of the deck don't lead into the back yard, but are by the side yard and a sidewalk around to the front. They go down near the gate to the back. You oversee the back yard from the deck, or toss treats off it, but with the rails, the chickens don"t come up there. Except for stubby. Right out from the dining room table window is an all weather counter top and right in front of that window is a big brass planter that had a big geranium in it. One morning I"m eating breakfast at the table inside, and Stubby shows up on that counter on the deck watching me eat through the window. Then she jumped on the planter and nestled in under the geranium and left me an egg. Then from the end of the counter, she jumped to the deck rail, paced it a bit, and flew down to the flock. From then on I got an egg nearly every day in that flower pot for a long time. Finally, one day, I discovered how she got out. I saw her the first time. There was an old mountain bike behind the garage. She'd get on the seat, then the handle bars, then the pipe at the top of the chain link fence. She'd fly down, and march straight around the other side of the yard, across the front yard, up the stairs, up on the counter, into the flower pot, and back in with the flock, all in a short time, without messing around on the way. I moved the bike, but she found another way. The other 13 still use the nesting boxes in their coup.

    Then one day she quit the flower pot. Don't know why, she's just goofy I guess. It was like in November or so when she quit and was getting colder, I don"t know if that had something to do with it, maybe. It was about then that I started letting my dog sleep inside. It's the season when he transforms from a Coon Hound to a couch hound. I never know of the 14 hens for sure to expect 10 eggs, 12, or 14. They all lay good, nearly an egg a day, but seldom exactly an egg a day. I don"t know why, but one cold Winter day, I happened to look in the dog house, and saw eggs -- all Barred Rock (the lightest brown I get), all had been frozen and split open, what a mess! All Stubby's, there were 44 eggs in there. At least it was one of those plastic dog houses that clean easy, but for the dog bed, but Scrappy was due for a new bed anyway. I put a plywood over the door and then the snow got deep, and Stubby started using the nesting boxes like a normal chicken.

    Within the last 3 or 4 weeks, it's been warming up nicely, few flurries, but sun the next day. There's a new bed in the dog house, the plywood is off, and a dog is in there 4 or 5 nights a week, soon to be 7. But a few days ago, while eating breakfast, Stubby's back in the brass flower pot, and has been every day since -- no geranium yet -- I think I'll just put some straw in it this year, and go with the flow.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  7. New2Chicks97

    New2Chicks97 Songster

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    My little stinkers did the same thing and laid all over the wild when I allowed them to free range in the morning. So now they stay locked up in their coop & run until afternoon when they have all laid.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for a week or so can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop and maybe run 24/7 for a few days to a week, provided you have adequate space and ventilation, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
     
  9. Cockadoodle-doo

    Cockadoodle-doo Chirping

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    Yes!!! It worked!!! I kept them in there til about 10:45 and everyone had laid so I let them out!!! I will just have to check from now on before letting them go :) thanks everyone for the ideas!!! I also like the idea of having to retrain them by keeping them in there a few days if necessary. That will have to happen if this doesn't continue to work!!!
     
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  10. Sorya C

    Sorya C Songster

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    Thats great! I hope it works for you!
     

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