Free ranging troubles

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by billmac, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. billmac

    billmac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My hens (RIR) were confined to a large dog kennel for ranging (about 6' x 20') until just recently. They are essentially free ranging now. They are happier but I'm not. My egg production is down and I suspect a few of them are laying elsewhere. I don't want to re-confine them, but i don't want them laying willy nilly either. Anything I can do about this? I found an egg smack in the middle of one of my goat pens, and I found one of my hens in another goat pen, settling herself down in a nice little hole in the hay.

    They come in to their coop at night to be fed and perch, and I shut them in. I've adjusted the timer light to come on at 4:30 am, hoping they will lay early and then I can let them out. Trouble is they aren't all early layers.

    Anything else I can do?

    Thanks
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    This may not be much help in your situation. I have had some that did not lay in the nests. I'm home all day and they were confined to a coop and run. When I caught them laying on the floor of the coop, I locked them in the nest for about a half hour, until they has finished laying the egg. I had to do this twice with one but only once with the other before they learned to lay in the nest box. That's the only experience I've had with it.

    I do believe that fake eggs in the nest help. One hen laid in the floor next to a fake egg that had been kicked out of the nest box, but when I put the fake egg back in the nest box, she resumed laying in the nest box. I use the plastic Easter eggs, partially filled with sand and glued shut to make them harder to kick out, but stuff happens.

    They are creatures of habit and will usually continue doing what they are used to, but changing their circumstances, like allowing them to free range when they are used to being confined, may be enough to change some of those habits.

    I wish you luck. This one could get frustrating.
     
  3. billmac

    billmac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The thing is, they were laying in the nest fine before I free ranged them. For months.
     
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they get too far away from the nestbox, they may not want to go all the way back there to lay. I guess you could build a tractor for daytime use, and put a nestbox in there.
     
  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Try letting them out at noon instead of earlier in the day. Hopefully most of them will have laid by then. After that conduct daily egg hunts. Leave a nest egg in their "hidden" nests, and they will continue to use them.
     
  6. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did the same with mine and now I have a couple of hens laying in different spots. I went on a egg hunt after a while. Just yesterday I found 4 eggs in the duck house (the ducks are only 4 months old so not theirs) and some in the back of a old barn watering tank. Found 8 there. So I cooked them up and fend them to the cats and dogs.
    I still let mine out daily. We are setting the lights to come on at 4am and shut off at 8. With the idea of getting them started early. I let them out at around 7am before I go to work. 9 on the weekends.

    Not really any suggestions but rather that your not alone. What do you want more???? Less in number but Healthier eggs or unhappy chickens with more eggs?
     

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