Help my chickens are laying eggs in the goat feeder

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by VintnerJer, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. VintnerJer

    VintnerJer In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2016
    I have 9 hens and a rooster and they are all about 6 months old and just started laying a couple of weeks ago. They started off okay but then the egg production dropped off. Today I was getting ready to put another bay of hay in the goat feeder when I found one of my hens nestled down in the far back corner. I picked her up and there was a clutch of 13 eggs underneath her. I collected the eggs and moved her to a nesting box but she panicked and went right back to the feeder. Is she broody or is this just THE spot for them all to lay eggs and it was just her turn? Also, the goat feeder is outside and it has been getting cold here (for California 30 degrees) and all the hens sleep in the hen house at night. Are these eggs okay to eat or are they well on their way to being little chickens? I will crack them into a bowl when using them to be sure.

    I am putting a door over the goat feeder to prevent this from happening again. I would love it if one of my hens went broody on us, but how can I tell? We would love some nice little chicks in time for our big vineyard pruning party the last weekend in February.
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Mine did that last year too, younger hens try to find goofy places to lay, now you know about it and should check it daily, when I saw hens in the feeders I would shag them out, after a while they moved to the nestboxes, make sure your boxes are quiet and dark and put fake eggs in them to draw them in.

    I enjoy your cold temperatures, they are considered warm here.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You might want to 'train' your new layers to use the coop nests by keeping them confined to the coop for a week or so.
    Then you might also be able to tell if that one girl is broody...and set up a safer place for her to brood if she is.

    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 3-4 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Aart mentions the key to solving your problem - habit. You need to be on top of things until the pullets establish the habit of laying in the designated nest boxes. That means, after a period of confinement to imprint the coop and nest boxes on them, be very thorough about checking for illicit nests and pick up the eggs immediately so other hens don't get the idea that nest is legit. More than anything, hens are drawn to lay their eggs where they see other eggs have been laid.

    It's unlikely such a new layer would be broody, not that we can entirely rule it out. You'll know a hen is broody when you remove her from the nest, eggs present or not, and she returns to the nest like she was on a rubber tether. When touched, a broody will puff herself up to look like an angry badger. She may even attempt to bite you. Broodies are extremely bad tempered as a whole. When off the nest, broodies emit a popping sound a lot like a pop corn popper. This is a vocalization only broody hens make.

    When you have a broody, it's usually very obvious.
    1 person likes this.
  5. VintnerJer

    VintnerJer In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2016
    The information on identifying broody hens is very helpful. None of my gals are broody yet, but I would love it if one did go broody on me as I am really enjoying the hens and having another dozen wouldn't be that much more work than the 10 I already have. I solved the problem with the eggs in the feeder by putting a door on the hatch to the goat feeder and now the hens can't get inside anymore. Today I had 7 eggs in the nesting boxes, and none on the ground or anywhere else that I could find. I have one hen who got her beck side chewed off by my puppies one day when the goats made a jailbreak, and she hasn't started laying again yet. An I think the other hen must have taken the day off, being Thursday and all.

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