How to make them lay in box not yard!!! HELP!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Little Chicken Farmers, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Little Chicken Farmers

    Little Chicken Farmers Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2008
    Canby , Oregon
    I have 5 hens that are completely free range..... they have a house they go in at night ( with 3 12x12 nest boxes ) and I usually lock them in and then open it first thing in the AM. I admit I have been a little lazy about always shutting them in so sometimes then are out at the crack of dawn.... Well I have been wating FOREVER for them to start laying and my hubby just found a stash a 6 eggs out in the grass behind the barn....2 nests...5 eggs in 1 and 1 egg in the other. My SLW hen was making a bee line to go to the nest.... he took the eggs but dont know how long they have been there. I have noticed the one SLW disapearing during the day lately.. SOOO should we put the eggs in the nest boxes to show her where to lay? Should I fence them in around the chicken house for awhile? Keep them locked in the house part of the day??
    Suggestions!!! I thought these darn chickens were supposed to be easy!!!! :eek:
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    What fool told you that!? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You can try keeping them in the coop until late afternoon for a week or two, until they get used to laying in the nests. You can also try to eliminate or block familiar outside nesting spots. This is difficult on a farm, with so many little cubby spots, so you may never achieve full egg recovery on your free rangers. Such is the life of a freerange chicken owner!
     
  3. TanksHill

    TanksHill Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Vista, Ca.
    I think keeping them contained until the learn to use the boxes usually works. My hens would allways lay in the box then go out to cruise the yard.
     
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I agree, keep the hens penned in for a week or two to accustom them to laying in the boxes. You can put in fake eggs, wooden eggs, even golf balls to inspire them. Or mark a few of the old eggs and use them. You can put the old eggs in a big cup of water to gauge their age, really old ones float, fresher ones stay horizonal on the bottom.

    Hopefully, once the hens get used to laying in their nest boxes they'll keep going back. I've seen my hens excuse themselves from free-ranging with their flock and go back to the coop to lay. But I usually keep them penned until 2 or 3 PM just to be sure.

    After enjoying such freedom your hens will certainly complain about being penned, you'll have to learn to ignore it. Give them time to re-orient themselves to the boxes, and perhaps then you can go back to letting them free-range all day long.
     
  5. Little Chicken Farmers

    Little Chicken Farmers Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    May 26, 2008
    Canby , Oregon
    Thanks for the advice.... I will keep them locked in the house until the afternoon. I will try to fashion some type of temporary run for them. Ok....dumb question.... If I keep them in and let them out much later will the hens "hold it" and then just go lay in the grass again ? The house isnt HUGE... 4'x6' (6 birds) I would hate to have to leave them in 24/7 without a run....but I will construct something if I have to temporarily.
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
    139
    281
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Hmmm, that's a good question. Hens are supposed to have a 25-hour cycle, laying a little later each day, and then taking a day off to recalibrate themselves and lay in the mornings again. I'm not sure about their holding power, it seems they have some control over it. Mine stand in front of the nest boxes and cluck to the hens inside, it sounds like "hurry up!" But the ground in front of the boxes isn't littered with eggs, so I guess they have some amount of hold.

    But I also know that they can hold an idea firmly in their tiny little minds, and once they get habituated to something they sometimes don't like to change. So they may be able to hold their eggs until they get out to their grassy place.

    That's why it's been suggested to confine them 24/7 for a week or two, to reprogram them to lay in the nests. However, once you notice 5 eggs in the boxes you can let them out for the rest of the day. Perhaps they could endure 24-hour confinement for just a few days, and then allow them early release for good behavior, as soon as everyone's laid their egg for the day.

    Keep us posted as to their progress!
     
  7. Patchesnposies

    Patchesnposies Chickens.....are my ONE weakness!

    Mar 5, 2008
    Southern New Mexico
    Our chickens free range during the day and are penned at night.

    They only began to lay about a month ago. One of the EE's found a nifty nest box, the bottom of our old timey built-in BBQ. It is the perfect size, made of brick and enclosed on three sides and the top.

    Once she started laying in there all of our hens wanted to use it too. I have seen three other hens waiting their turn to go in and lay their eggs.

    Some of the girls go in and lay their eggs in the hen house, while another decided to use a duck's nest when the mother duck was off of it. Now that Mrs. Quaker has gotten seriously broody she won't let her lay her egg in her nest.

    I do believe hens can hold their eggs (though I don't know for how long) as one night when we penned them up, one hen was frantically racing from one gate to the other while we were changing waters, etc...finally my husband said, "I'll bet I know what she wants" and let her out. She immediately ran around to the BBQ cubby and laid an egg.

    They do get creative when nest hunting.....I had one hen that flew up into a wrought iron flower box that was mounted on the side of our patio wall and was going to lay her egg there! LOL

    We have 16 hens who are old enough to lay and we are only averaging 6 eggs a day, so I think we probably have some who are laying in the grass.

    Does it sometimes take a while for all of them to lay regularly?

    Deb
     
  8. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2007
    since your coop is small.id leave them locked up till 2 or 3 in the afternoon.an see if that gets them to laying in their coop.but they really need tobe locked up for 2 or 3weeks.
     
  9. Little Chicken Farmers

    Little Chicken Farmers Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2008
    Canby , Oregon
    Well they are locked in still and no new eggs as of yet! I put a few of the eggs I found in the nests (marked them) to give them a clue! Hubby and I are going to construct some kind of temporary run to keep them in jail for awhile!! Darn it I want those eggs! [​IMG]
     
  10. Little Chicken Farmers

    Little Chicken Farmers Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    May 26, 2008
    Canby , Oregon
    UPDATE !!! [​IMG]
    Went out again...(ok I am stalking the nest boxes now).... Got an egg in the nest !!! WooHoo!! [​IMG]
    I think only one of my hens is laying, one of the SLW, they are about 23 weeks so hopefully the rest will start following her! I let them out now.... hopefully just keeping them in will do the job but still might do a temp yard for awhile so I can catch the others when they start laying..

    Happy Eggs !!
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2008

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