Laying Eggs Outside

NHchickenflock

In the Brooder
5 Years
Aug 6, 2014
72
0
41
Gilmanton NH
We recently started letting our flock free range during the day. They have been in the coop over a month and all layer in their nesting boxes.
Yesterday I went to collect eggs and there were very few in the boxes, figured they all took the day off. Then I went around the coop where they exit and happend to notice an egg in the tall grass, after hunting action that immediate area I found about 18 more (that's days eggs that were missing).
How can I stop or break this habit before they all do it?
 

Kelsie2290

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Feb 18, 2011
36,684
4,963
586
Ohio
Locking them up in the coop for a couple of days so they get used to laying in the nests again helps. Do try and make sure the nests in the coop are attractive to chickens, dark, big enough etc. But I gave up trying to make them all lay in the coops. With free range birds, if they have access to a lot of places outside that they would consider a good place to hide eggs, you usually wind up with hidden nests being an ongoing problem. Some breeds are a lot worse than others. I wound up putting "fake" hidden nests outside for them with a fake egg or two and just collecting eggs out of them like normal every day (old dog houses, buckets, barrels etc) it seems to keep the stubborn girls that want to hide eggs happy and I still get the eggs and don't wind up with a bunch of surprise mixed chicks.
 

NHchickenflock

In the Brooder
5 Years
Aug 6, 2014
72
0
41
Gilmanton NH
We will try that. There is a lot of tall grass right where they go out, I am afraid there could be a lot more in the grass we can't see or find.
They have very nice nesting boxes, large and dark so they should like them. A few are still laying in the boxes.
 

islandgirl82

Songster
5 Years
Jul 4, 2014
1,426
316
198
Maine
I free range my flock as well and due to my one Hamburg pullet disappearing for a while each day followed by me scouring the yard looking for hidden nests and finding nothing, I decided to keep them in the run until late morning each day until she has laid. They don't like it but they still have plenty of space and I'm hoping that it will encourage her to return to the coop, or at least the run to nest when I go back to letting them out earlier. I even rearranged my run to include a root ball from a fallen tree with the hopes that it would provide a natural place for her to lay without being completely hidden. She has laid in the run but not used the root ball for cover.
 

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