Laying in box vs outside

munchkinlover

Chirping
Oct 6, 2019
59
123
87
NW Arkansas
Good morning everyone. I'm afraid I made a mistake with my birds and don't really know what to do about it. I have 9 hens that have lived in our coop/tractor until about 3 weeks ago. Before I started letting them out every day, I know that 4 of my girls started laying eggs. I got 3-4 eggs every day for a week and then......I started letting them out to free range. 2, sometimes 3, of my girls lay in the boxes, but nothing else. I suspect that they have to be laying out somewhere, but we have soo may places to hide, it's ridiculous! Is there any way I can get them to lay in the boxes? I leave them in the tractor until about 10:30 and that's when I find 2 eggs. I hate to leave them in all day because of the roosters, and they all are becoming masters of escaping when I try to squeeze in the door. Any and all comments are greatly appreciated!!!!!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Puppy Dreaming
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How big is the coop tractor? If it isn't big enough some lower ranking hens won't feel comfortable going into it to lay as they can get bullied in a smaller coop.

Hens can lay anytime of the day. Generally it's recommended to lock them in for a few weeks to retrain them, but if your set up is too small I would not do that.

They could be laying elsewhere, or they could just be laying at a decreased rate due to the time of year.
 

aart

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munchkinlover

Chirping
Oct 6, 2019
59
123
87
NW Arkansas
The tractor is 7'x17'=8.9 sq ft per bird and the coop is 4'x7'= 2.5 sp ft per bird. The coop has 3 nesting boxes and 3 roost bars giving lots of room to the birds. I have 2 roosters and they seem to have worked out something because they both crow, they both mate and they sleep side by side at night. I have 9 hens, so a total of 11 birds. All of my hens have just recently reached 6 months and started to lay. I know for sure that 4 have given me eggs just about every day. I suspect that at least 2 more have started as well, but I only get 2 eggs a day sometimes 3. We have several cabins that have crawl space under the porch and building that they love to go under. They spend a good portion of the day under there. Amazingly, 2 girls walk back to the tractor to lay their eggs. I just wish all of them would. Thanks for helping.
Tractor.jpg Nesting Boxes.jpg
Coop front.jpgCoop front open.jpgInside Coop.jpg
 

aart

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All of my hens have just recently reached 6 months and started to lay.
Could well be new layer syndrome, they haven't figured it all out yet.
Confining the females to the coop and run is the best and fastest way to 'train' them to the coop nests.
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.


The 2 males might be getting along, but they still might be stressing the females.
Are the males the same age as the females?

FYI.....semantics, maybe, but can be important communication terms when discussing chicken behavior.
Female chickens are called pullets until one year of age, then they are called hens.
Male chickens are called cockerels until one year of age, then they are called cocks(or cockbirds or roosters).
Age in weeks or months is always a good thing to note.
 

munchkinlover

Chirping
Oct 6, 2019
59
123
87
NW Arkansas
Could well be new layer syndrome, they haven't figured it all out yet.
Confining the females to the coop and run is the best and fastest way to 'train' them to the coop nests.
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.


The 2 males might be getting along, but they still might be stressing the females.
Are the males the same age as the females?

FYI.....semantics, maybe, but can be important communication terms when discussing chicken behavior.
Female chickens are called pullets until one year of age, then they are called hens.
Male chickens are called cockerels until one year of age, then they are called cocks(or cockbirds or roosters).
Age in weeks or months is always a good thing to note.
I guess I should say that 2 pullets are 8 months old, 3 pullets and cockerel is 7 months and the last 4 pullets and cockerel are 5 1/2 to 6 months old. 3 different batches. Would it hurt to keep the pullets in the coop and let the cockerels in the run for a day or two?
 

Henry&Friends

Songster
May 6, 2018
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I guess I should say that 2 pullets are 8 months old, 3 pullets and cockerel is 7 months and the last 4 pullets and cockerel are 5 1/2 to 6 months old. 3 different batches. Would it hurt to keep the pullets in the coop and let the cockerels in the run for a day or two?
Do you have a run attached? You could leave them in the coop and run for a while, and then they would lay there. My birds lay eggs in the forest for their best friends, the raccoons :barnie two weeks ago I made an extra nest and was getting about 5 eggs a day, and then last weekend I made 2 new nests out of some kitchen drawers, and now I’m getting about ten eggs a day :celebrate

Sometimes the answer is to make new nests that cater to your chickens needs— since adding bins & boxes, my chickens now refuse to lay in their buckets. They also seem to prefer nests that are higher up, but then you have to make sure they aren’t sleeping and pooping in the nests.
 

aart

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Nov 27, 2012
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I guess I should say that 2 pullets are 8 months old, 3 pullets and cockerel is 7 months and the last 4 pullets and cockerel are 5 1/2 to 6 months old. 3 different batches. Would it hurt to keep the pullets in the coop and let the cockerels in the run for a day or two?
Coops kinda small for 9 birds.
I'd keep the pullets in the coop and run and kick the boys out to range.
Coop nest training can take more than a few days tho.
 

munchkinlover

Chirping
Oct 6, 2019
59
123
87
NW Arkansas
Well, I decided to leave them in today, and I have 4 eggs so far. My best layer, my Easter Egger Bunny, gives me an egg every day and she is really mad about being kept in. She makes the worst noise when she is not happy. Ad the line-up at the door is comical. I really don't think I can get the boys out without escapees, and getting them back in would be even harder. ThanQ for all the advise. If it doesn't work, I'll try placing boxes in strategic places to see if that works.
 
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