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Help! What would YOU do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LedgeWoods, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. LedgeWoods

    LedgeWoods Songster

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    OK...the saga continues. Out of 41 pullets, I had my first 3 eggs from Aug. 10th through the 14th. I haven't had an egg since - over a week. The girls are all just over 19 weeks old. I'm guessing it's one (or more) of the reds as the producers since their combs & wattles are the brightest and I've seen 1 of them sitting on top of the nest boxes (where the 3 eggs were found). I've tried leaving the flock in the coop until after noon - no luck. I've seen the red sitting on the box, wait a good half hour only to find her off her "nest" and no egg. That has happened at least 3 times in the last week. (There is no sign that the egg was eaten either -no shell, no mess.) I can tell that the others are checking out the nest boxes because the shavings are rearranged and the wooden eggs & golf balls are moved around.)

    Now, today the girls were in lockdown until 12:30 (red was on her "nest" this morning, but no egg again). They were out free-ranging for about an hour and I hear the tell-tale egg song coming from the edge of the woods they hang out by. By the time I got there, the singer was done, so I don't know who the soloist was. Looked high and low on the edge of the woods and in the woods a few yards. The only eggs I got are the welts on my legs from the mosquitoes!

    I see my two options as 1) Leaving the flock in the coop all day long with no outside time or 2) making a makeshift run for them so they can't get into the woods and have to stay close to the coop.
    They currently range on about 3 acres around our home, workshop, garden and lawn...they really love it & I enjoy seeing them contently roaming, but this whole invisible egg thing is driving me nuts! [​IMG]
    Anyone have any other ideas???
     

  2. kateseidel

    kateseidel Songster

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    I hate to lock my girls up, but I have had to resort to it twice since they started laying three weeks ago. They REALLY want to lay their eggs in the hay barn. The first eggs were found in the hay barn, and that went on for 5 or 6 eggs. So I locked them into the coop until they laid in the nest boxes.

    The next few days all laying was in the nest boxes, and I had 4 hens laying (of 15). Then it was all back to the hay barn and there was no more laying in the coop. I kept them in later and later, and when I would let them out around 1:00, they would RUN to the hay barn to lay their eggs!

    I put an imitation golf ball in a nest box, and some fresh hay, and they threw it all out. So this morning I did NOT let them out and checked at 3:00. Six lovely eggs in a little next in the corner of the coop, under the nest boxes, along with all the fresh hay and the golf ball. Not sure who wins this round, me or the Henley's!!
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    What do your nests look like? They don't seem to like them. As they like the hay barn, are you using some of that hay? What I have noticed is that they tend to want to all lay in the same spot. Someone starts, and the rest follow. I think that I would leave the golf ball in their nest, and see if you can get them to lay there again. As it is in your coop, and not in the hay barn, and you know where it is.

    I would try that for several days, maybe even two weeks, then I would move the golf ball, and remove the nest, and put something big where the nest was, like a milk jug or a basket ball. Use the hay that they built the nest with and line ONE real nest box in the coop. Sometimes that will work. Once you have them laying where you want to, you may need to keep them locked up late one or two days a week.

    I have a run attached to my coop, and while I like to let them free range, one or two days a week, everyone stays in the run/coop. Especially if all of a sudden I have a drop in egg production, (almost always another nest) or I know I am going to be home after dark, cause that is when my coons like to dash and dine. It keeps everyone honest! and they lay in the right place.

    Hope this helps. MrsK
     
  4. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

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    Quote:Are your nest boxes dark and private? Hens tend to like dark and out-of-the-way places to do their personal business. I put up "curtains" over my nest boxes and that's the only place my girls ever lay their eggs.

    It seems that some of your hens may be practicing for their first egg event by checking out the nest boxes and moving things around. I've noticed that when mine are approaching the point of lay, they will often do that nest prep thing too.

    I wouldn't confine them to the coop all day long. I'd think that would be just inviting other problems. It couldn't hurt to make a temporary run for them until they've all become compliant with the nest box routine.

    Here's what my nest boxes look like. I just used some scrap material and stapled it.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  5. LedgeWoods

    LedgeWoods Songster

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    UPDATE... Hubby & I did some nest box modifications yesterday afternoon. We added another board to the boxes to make them deeper. i added more wood shavings and this morning it looked like the girls were busy checking them out. YAY! I could see they had worked the shavings to make a deep pocket...but no eggs...besides the wooden ones and golf balls.
    This afternoon, one of the reds was hanging out in coop - tryed out a couple next boxes, clucked around, then settled on TOP the nest boxes in the spot where the 1st 3 eggs were found over a week ago. So after repeated checkups over the course of 3 HOURS, she got to the point of panting and standing in the corner of the nest box top. Her vent was enlarged, but no signs of major problems. We took a walk and when we got back, low and behold AN EGG was waiting for us [​IMG] After a quick happy dance, I picked up the egg and found it had a cracked tip. Nothing major, but obviously from the plop onto the wood nest box top.

    SO...hubby wants to put a "rim" around the top of the nest box and let them lay there. (I think I would put some astroturf up there instead of shavings though.) To be determined later - we'll see what the rest of the week brings. I'm just happy to have an egg after a 9 day furlough![​IMG]
     
  6. I have astro turf lined tilted nests, the eggs roll right out of the nest to safety in a wire cage behind the nests. The girls didn't like them at first. But, they are getting pretty good about laying in them now. The eggs are nice and clean now.
     
  7. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

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    Quote:[​IMG]
     

  8. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Strasburg Ohio
    Hi Ledge-

    Everything truly sounds normal. Your birds are young yet, and they are showing the signs that laying is going to begin soon. 20 weeks is the average, and sometimes they can take even longer......Patience and you will see eggs! That's a promise.....

    What I do, is my layers are locked up until 5pm when I come home, then they get to free range until dusk, when they go back in on their own. It's not cruel....this is an important time to establish their laying patterns. If you have an attached chicken run, you can let them go out into that, but no free ranging until later in the day.

    After you are seeing lots of eggs, and you see that they have established good laying habits, then you could let them out to free range earlier.

    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! It really works like a charm![​IMG]
     
  9. sunflowerenvy

    sunflowerenvy Songster

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    glad that u found an egg in the nest box today just put my bedding in there. did u get a heat wave up there to where the girl panting [sp], in the heat they do slow down
     
  10. greenSearcher

    greenSearcher Songster

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    Just a reminder to put out free access oyster shell. When the girls pant from the heat they exhale calcium in their breath and the egg shells become thinner. I am amazed at how fast they go through it. I have to refill the cup I hung on the outside of the coop every 5-6 days and I have just 5 hens. In the cool weather they hardly ate any, but in the summer they pant all day, and munch it right down.
     

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