How to trick free ranging hen into laying in coop again

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
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So one of my hens accidentally got locked out of the coop one afternoon. Next thing I know she's singing her egg song, and I realized too late that she had already laid... somewhere in the woods. Fast forward a month and she's not laid in the coop since that day. Last time a first-time egg-layer laid in the woods I happened to find her and her stash. Removing the eggs triggered her to start laying in the coop. The issue now is it's spring and things are overgrown already. I've trampled everywhere I can think of and every area where she's sung her egg song and NOTHING. Now my egg laying has reduced dramatically, and I am afraid some of the other girls are joining her. Her eggs are reddish brown so they will be hard to see in the leaves. Anyone else ever dealt with this?
 
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Starburst

Jesus Loves You
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May 25, 2020
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Me! I have this problem EVERY year! Do you have a run? If so, this is what I do. First, I place several fake eggs in the nesting boxes to help my hens remember that is where they lay. While they usually free-range, I put them in the run for several days until the suspect begins to lay in the coop again and continues to lay there for several days. If you can't find the eggs, I have often considered getting a small tracker and putting it on the chicken so I know where in the forest she goes! (Not very practical, but you know...) If you don't have a run, you could maybe try keeping your chickens in the coop until late morning/afternoon. If you know the approximate time when your hen lays, you could also put her in the coop during that time and let her out afterward. .
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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Yeppers, lock em up!

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 a week or so can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop and maybe run 24/7 for a few days to a week, provided you have adequate space and ventilation, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
3,171
6,024
431
Southwestern Pennsylvania
My Coop
My Coop
Yeppers, lock em up!

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 a week or so can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop and maybe run 24/7 for a few days to a week, provided you have adequate space and ventilation, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
There are still eggs being laid in the coop. Unfortunately I don't have a run, but it's on the agenda for the summer. I just moved a few months ago. We even moved the coop which was an insane task, but formerly they did have a run. I would lock them in the coop but it gets too hot during the day, and my coop is max capacity for birds. A new coop is also on the agenda... I think until I get those things taken care of I may just be forfeiting those eggs which is devastating. I may experiment with putting some brooder boxes (using buckets) outside the coop to entice laying elsewhere and see what happens.

Thank you all for your responses!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,475
129,981
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SW Michigan
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My Coop
There are still eggs being laid in the coop. Unfortunately I don't have a run, but it's on the agenda for the summer. I just moved a few months ago. We even moved the coop which was an insane task, but formerly they did have a run. I would lock them in the coop but it gets too hot during the day, and my coop is max capacity for birds. A new coop is also on the agenda... I think until I get those things taken care of I may just be forfeiting those eggs which is devastating. I may experiment with putting some brooder boxes (using buckets) outside the coop to entice laying elsewhere and see what happens.

Thank you all for your responses!
Could throw up some quick Tpsots and 2x4" x6' welded wire as a corral/run.
and/or leave them in the coop until later in the morning(before it gets too hot)
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
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Southwestern Pennsylvania
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I penned them in with some T-posts and some chicken wire. Didn’t take too long. On day one I got seven eggs from nine layers and none were my errant egg layer. I let them all out around 5pm and they were more than ready to be let out. Poor things laid around all day going “what the cluck?” On day two my errant egg layer laid in the coop by 11am! I got six eggs that day which was yesterday and eight today. I had been getting only 3-4 a day so I have a feeling she wasn’t the only one who had been hiding some eggs.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,475
129,981
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SW Michigan
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My Coop
I penned them in with some T-posts and some chicken wire. Didn’t take too long. On day one I got seven eggs from nine layers and none were my errant egg layer. I let them all out around 5pm and they were more than ready to be let out. Poor things laid around all day going “what the cluck?” On day two my errant egg layer laid in the coop by 11am! I got six eggs that day which was yesterday and eight today. I had been getting only 3-4 a day so I have a feeling she wasn’t the only one who had been hiding some eggs.
Excellent!
Keep that up for a week should change their wily habits, for a while anyway.
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
3,171
6,024
431
Southwestern Pennsylvania
My Coop
My Coop
Excellent!
Keep that up for a week should change their wily habits, for a while anyway.
I didn't mention, I haven't pinned them up since Monday, and I got an egg from her on Tuesday. I am introducing chicks to the flock this weekend and will pen them up again and I imagine that would help keep them in check. Thanks for the advice! I'm sick over all the lost eggs in the woods since she usually lays 5-6 a week and it's been a month....
 

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