I feel so mean!!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Christie Rhae, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    I have been letting my 16 hens free range on my property for a couple of months now. At first all was fine. Then I notice egg numbers down just a little. Well, now I get 6 eggs in the nest boxes if I am lucky!! I used to get 12 to 14 eggs every day! So we are always on a hunt for eggs in the woods and brush. As soon as I find one of their secret spots they stop using it. I have had a hen go broody sitting on 18 eggs before I discovered her, collected the eggs and shooed her off. I have found several secret hoards but lately they are getting more tricky. Plus these darn chickens poop all over my porch trying to get to the cat food.

    These girls obviously are not with the program. I feed them gourmet food, they lay eggs, I collect the eggs. [​IMG]
    So... today I did not let them out of their coop/run. The poor things are so anxious and pacing. They want out so bad! I am sure some of them are dying to lay their eggs. Guess they will just have to use the deluxe nest boxes I built for them and that they used for the first 8 months of their egg laying lives! lol Jeez!

    Looking forward to a load of eggs this afternoon! [​IMG]
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I know what you mean - mine get pretty vocal if I don't let them out of the run by 8am. But you do whatcha' gotta' do [​IMG] Just start letting them out to range after 5 PM or so. Maybe after a few weeks of reinforcement in using the nest boxes, you can try letting them out early again. [​IMG]
  3. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    Our chickens only get free range after noon... Most of the laying is done by then, but we have 2 EE that go back in to lay around 3:00pm. Maybe try letting them out a little later in the day.
  4. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    Hmmm, I would wonder if there is a reason they prefer the woods to their coop to lay. Could some thing be scaring them? I am wondering about a rodent? We have ground squirrels that some times invade the coop...it can make a few of the girls change lay areas.

    Maybe try moving their nestboxes if you can - to a new spot in the coop. Freshen them up. Maybe hang a clothe to help darken the nest a bit.

    Mark some eggs with a pen/sharpie - put a couple in each nest box - every time you collect eggs, leave the marked eggs. This will "show" the girls that it is safe to lay their eggs there. Even chickens who are not bred to be broody (hatchery/heavy egg layers), have an instinctual need for their eggs to be safe. Leaving a couple helps to full fill this need.

    Can you place the cat food up higher - do not let the chickens see this being done - but up on a high table and out of sight of the chickens.

    My girls hate to be confined............all that pacing, it really works to make us people feel so bad and the way they look at you should you happen to step outside [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  5. LunarRayne

    LunarRayne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2011
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:My Husband and I use a golf ball. It shows the hens where to lay. Also if a snake does, somehow, get into the nest box, the golf ball kills them. They can't crush it so they can't digest it... Sounds slightly cruel, but it works...
  6. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    my nest boxes all have golf balls...they happily laid in them for 8 months. Not too many predators here in Hawaii.
    If there is anything that discourages them from laying in the nest boxes it could be my six reds, they are kinda bullys. The hen house has one window. Maybe I should darken it.

    Today instead of having a lot of eggs like I thought I had only 8. Some who I know lay in the woods were pacing back and forth like crazy wanting to get out and lay. Even climbed into the nest boxes but in the end did not lay an egg. Maybe they were just so traumatized by being locked up. I let them out at 5pm and watched them all closely to see if any ran off into the woods to lay. I was ready with my tennis shoes on. But all they did was hunt for bugs.

    Sigh... crazy chickens. I will keep them locked up for a few days... letting them out in late afternoon. See what happens.po
  7. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    for free rangers.. if you find a nest in the woods or brush.. either leave a few eggs and mark them (so next time you know which are the old eggs).. or replace a few with the "dummy eggs".. in a hens mind if they have gone to all that trouble to make a 'special" nest out in the woods.. and come back to find every egg gone.. that can only mean there is a predator who has stolen their eggs.. so the "special" nest isnt safe any more and they need to find a new spot.
  8. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    I have 5 new laying age hens, and 4 others that I've had for a while. My house is basically in a clearing in the middle of a temperate rain forest in the Smoky Mountains. If they don't lay in the laying box, I'm never getting those eggs, LOL! We're still new to this, but I think from what I've read, I'm going to start keeping them in the coop/run until around noon. I still have a few hens that haven't begun laying, and I'm a little concerned that if they start laying in the woods, I'll never know that they've begun laying. I get eggs after noon, but that, to me, seems like a good balance and a proper enough time for hanging around the run to lay and eat crumble, and the rest of the day to forage and free range. If I feel I'm losing out on some eggs at some point, I may move that time a little later in the day to see what happens.
  9. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    Oh they are fussy this morning! I could hear them all the way from my pillow... squawking and complaining! You would think they had never been locked up before in their lives. Sheesh... I am hoping that my EEs who managed to hold their eggs in yesterday will lay them this morning. lol

    I better get out there and put some cabbage and suet cakes into their suet cage holder things..
  10. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Quote:I do it too. Let my girls out after 11:00. Except a few young hens who keeps to themselves, away from the older hens. But I know where they lay. In our house mostly!
    The older hens lay early and the few that hasn't layed by the time I let them out come back to the coop to lay.
    By the way, I once decided to stop them free ranging, because I could never find the eggs. They stopped laying altogether! Hence the half days.

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