Frozen eggs.....Laying overnight?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by fmernyer, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. fmernyer

    fmernyer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2012
    I'm down to three chickens who are just getting past a hard molt. So we went from so many eggs we had to give them away to having to buy eggs at the grocery store since our own chicken eggs were scarce.

    So its doubly upsetting when we find a frozen egg...which is often. I'm in CT so the winter is cold - but since they usually lay in the morning we're alright....I don't usually find an egg in the run when they are in there during the day....but now I'm checking on them in the morning and finding A LOT of frozen eggs.

    The run is all snowy even though I have litter on top of the snow and other places for them to get their feet up off the snow. Is it possible the 'late layers' are not laying aaaallll day and 'waiting' to lay when they get back into the coop at night?? (my coop and run are unattached) Will they do that? CAN they do that? (They're also laying outside the nest box when they do that - what's up with that??)

    Running an electrical line out to the coop is not an option. I've considered putting something inside the next box but since they don't lay the eggs inside the nest box and not even in the same place - I haven't bothered.

    For clarity - when I find those frozen eggs outside the nest box there aren't always eggs inside the nest box. So my three hens aren't vying for the box - at least not to lay...

    Do they wait to lay? Should I be checking the coop *after* I put them in for the night? Would they roost - leave the roost to lay - and then go back to roost? I'm not well versed in 'chicken urges'....

    Any help is appreciated and as always - thank you for this opportunity!

  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    They'd be putting up quite a ruckus if holding an egg in all day to lay at night. They should have access to their nesting box all day though. Why is your run not attached to the coop?

    I've seen people make small "tunnels" with wire to give chickens access to other areas. Maybe that's an option, make a 18" hoop walkway for them to go back to coop to lay.

    Without light chickens wont get off the roost and walk around. They've next to no night vision. Could they be laying from the roost and that's where your finding the eggs? If so then they are just out of cycle from the molt and should get back into the day time swing of things.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Some interesting questions. I’ll try.

    A hen generally starts the next egg about 20 minutes after she lays her egg. Something about the laying process triggers the release of another yolk to start that journey through her internal egg making factory. There are exceptions, like when a hen skips a day laying or her internal factory messes up and releases a yolk when it is not supposed to, but generally about 20 minutes after the other egg was laid. It normally takes about 25 hours for that egg to go through her internal factory, but this can vary by a few hours. I’ve had some that lay a bit later each day but I’ve also had some that lay at the same time each day. They are not all exactly alike.

    A hen can lay an egg early, such as when she gets stressed. You can get soft or thin shelled eggs or eggs that are not as dark as usual when that happens. She can also delay laying an egg if she gets distressed, especially when she is on the nest and gets frightened off. Sometimes you get some strange things with the shell when that happens. Most of the time though when it is time to lay that egg, they want to lay that egg! I don’t know how you expect them to lay in the nests if the nests are in the coop and they can’t get there from the run?

    I don’t know if you provide light in your coop or if you have some type if security light or street light that provides light through a window. If they can see, they can get to the nests at any time.

    I lock mine up about dark, usually waiting until they all get to the roosts but occasionally herding them in there before the last one wants to go in. I always check the nests when I do that but I have found a few eggs early the next morning, cold eggs that have been in the nest a while. I haven’t paid attention if there is a correlation between locking them up early or a full moon which provides some light.
    1 person likes this.
  4. fmernyer

    fmernyer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2012
    We built a coop and were allowing them to free range during the day....that's why we have 3 hens and not 6 :/ So I bought a chain link dog run that we are using as a run and since we are home most of the time it keeps the main predators (a fat hawk and a fox) from getting at them. The dog run is separate from the coop and not large enough to house the coop.

    Under normal (weather) circumstances - we have a few cozy boxes inside the run and they happily lay their eggs inside when they need to lay during the day. But with all the snow the terrain inside the run has changed and they aren't happy with any of the boxes on top of the snow options.

    I've considered attaching the run and the coop but when the weather isn't '6 inches of hard packed snowandice' I can move the chain link 'run' around and at least get them new bugs to eat. Perhaps think of it as a chicken tractor that isn't perfect with the snow?

    They aren't making a ruckus or pacing like I've seen them do.

    Laying from the roost makes sense because that's where I'm finding the eggs - right under the roost. And the matter that is frozen TO the egg suggests that it's broken *before* freezing and until now I couldn't figure out whey that was. If they are sitting on the roost and laying - then it makes sense!

    I will make a point of finding something more cozy so they might be more comfortable laying in the run. Being off cycle from the molt makes sense. In which case the eggs would be broken anyway - regardless of the cold.

    I don't provide light - and there aren't any streetlights - but there are windows and eaves that will provide natural light from the moon if its bright enough. Maybe I'll think about a battery powered light in there or a solar powered light (I'd have to remember to put it back at night) so if they are inclined to get to the nest at night they'd be able to do it.

    Thank you both!! I have much to do today!


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