Free ranging in our backyard. How to find the eggs?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cdysthe, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. cdysthe

    cdysthe New Egg

    Aug 12, 2010

    We're pretty new to backyard chicken. We have a fenced backyard and have four Americuna run free there. They seem happy and have all started laying eggs. They all seem to be laying every day. However, we have two decks they can run under where we can't get to. We think they may be laying some eggs there although we find most eggs in what looks like nests they have made themselves in little thickets in the backyard. They seems to change the place quite often. We have tried to put nesting boxes where we find the eggs, but all of a sudden they find a new place. Is there a way we can encourage them to lay them in certain places in the backyard? I guess there's nothing to do about the deck other than covering all openings, or is there other ways to prevent them from going under there and lay eggs? We really do not want to keep them in a coop all the time, so we need to find ways to let them free range in the yard.
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    You should really encourage them to lay eggs in nest boxes in the coop.

    Mine go in and out of their coop(s) all day, even whilst ranging freely.

    Do you not have nest boxes in your coop? Make sure there's lots of shavings or hay or straw, whatever you're using for bedding in the coop, in the nest boxes, and they are set LOWER than the roost bars. Put a golf ball in each nest box - chickens can't tell the difference. They see the golf ball, which looks somewhat like an egg, and if somebody else is laying eggs there, then it must be a GOOD nest box. And they usually start laying their eggs in them.
  3. suzettex5

    suzettex5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    First, I would block off the underside of the deck with some chicken wire, no more temptation for them to lay under an inaccesible place. Then I would put the nesting boxes where ever you want them in the coop and lock the hens in there for about 3 days. Consider putting a golf ball or a fake egg (can get them at craft stores) in the boxes. Usually they will get the idea to lay there if they see other "eggs" in the boxes, and they will be fine in the coop w/food and water for a couple days, till they get the idea.

    If you block off the deck, you could also consider giving them a few easy to find options- I put a old BBQ lid propped up for a site to lay (it works for certain girls) then I leaned a long piece of particle board up against the house wall with some hay underneath it, (that works for different girls, LOL!) then I filled an old plastic kids house base with hay, and its the favorite place for one certain hen! I always wait till the hens are gone before I gather eggs, and dont bug them at all when they are laying so they think they are being sneaky, [​IMG] , it seems to work. I noticed when I would grab eggs right away, or right from under a new layer, they would ALWAYS find a new secret spot to lay.

    Hope this helps ya!
  4. greenshade

    greenshade Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2010
    We're new to backyard chickens, too. We built our run under our deck and the coop is built off of the run, protruding out a little by the stairs. It's working extremely well and we keep the coop and run clean so no smell. What I'm finding is my chickens lay their first eggs unexpectedly - frequently off the back of the roost. After that first one, they usually get to the nest boxes. One of them made a nest in the litter beneath and to the side of the nest boxes. I had plastic Easter eggs in the nests, but once the hens started laying in the boxes, took them out. I only have one little Ameraucana, the youngest of the flock. She's not laying yet, but she SO wants to! She sits in the nest box religiously every day for about half an hour. [​IMG]

    They're free to roam the backyard by day, but wander in and out of the run and coop throughout the day. I'm really impressed with how happy and healthy they are just in the backyard!
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Good advice about locking them in the coop for a couple of days now and again to encourage laying in the nests. I also leave one good nest outside for them to frequent....all others are blocked off as I find them.

    Kind of fun having Easter every day, huh? [​IMG]
  6. pattgal

    pattgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2010
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I am new to the free ranging thing too, as of last night. See my post called how to free range without fences or electrical wirring. None of my hens are laying yet but my plan is to let them out after lunch (if they don't start laying in the back yard first) that way they should have plenty of time to all lay their eggs in the morning and then i can turn them loose.
    Sort of like letting them take the afternoon off after all that hard work [​IMG]
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    The only problem with that is it is a fallacy that chickens lay in the morning. They lay most of the day, it takes about 25 hours to get an egg, so each day it is later and later, then earlier. I check in the morning, and often will have some eggs, and check in the afternoon, and often will have more eggs.

    However, mine are currently free ranging most days, and they go back to the coop to lay. But I also have run days, where everyone stays locked up in the run/coop. Especially if egg production suddenly falls off, a sign of a secret nest.


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