1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Nests and Free Ranging Question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NathanNeighbour, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    I have 3 Red Sex Links that are probably about 20 weeks old now (purchased them as pullets). Their waddlers are red and pretty! Hopefully eggs soon!

    Up until now, they have never even touched their nesting boxes. They are milk crates turned sideways (12 x 12 x 12). They do sleep on top of them each night. I let all three out of their run each morning to free range in the backyard (run is 4 x 8). I live in Southern California and have no real predators in my part of the woods. During the day they love eating my weeds and bugs. My backyard is pretty open and walled, so they have some good room to walk around. Every day at 5, they go back to their coop, and I close the run door.

    My question is two-fold - Will they ever get in the nesting boxes? Will they know to go back to their coop to lay their eggs? Or will I get to go on a hunt each day?

    Thanks! First time chicken parent :)[​IMG]
     
  2. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    When I have new layers and nobody to show them the ropes so to speak I put a few fake eggs or golf balls in the nesting boxes..

    Have they started squatting for you?
     
  3. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,784
    135
    228
    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    [​IMG] Welcome to our flock!
     
  4. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    thanks! I have golf balls in their nests waiting for them :)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    Very pretty birds!!! When you walk up on them do they squat on the ground? My pullets will do that (or used to before we got the roosters) a week or so before I could expect my first egg, also, you might see them checking out the nesting boxes..

    BTW...

    Welcome [​IMG]
     
  6. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    They are still pretty startled by people, so they just run :)
     
  7. ChookRanger

    ChookRanger Chillin' With My Peeps

    246
    18
    68
    Jun 25, 2014
    Their faces look good and red. Do you hear any of them doing "The Egg Song"? They won't all do it, but some of them start right before they lay. Also, my girls refused to use their nests until I took the tops off, not sure why...anyway they look close, good luck.
     
  8. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    The shorter days may delay them, I have some that were set to start laying the end of October, they didn't start until just a few weeks ago... It is typical (in my experience) for first eggs to be laid while roosting at night, they are typically soft shelled and non edible of course.
     
  9. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

    306
    7
    121
    Jan 9, 2010
    Nathan, assuming there is some nice cozy bedding in the nest boxes, they will know that's a good place to lay (my hens very definitely prefer hay to any other kind of nesting material).

    However....hens do what they want!! My ladies (we keep between 15 - 20) free range for a lot of the day, and while most of them will zip back to the coop to lay their eggs, we have found many, many secret nests. If we stop getting 10-12 eggs a day, we go looking for a secret nest. Most often, they will nest in our hay barn, but we have found nests in the woods next to logs, under a beg piece of scrap metal, my husband has found eggs in his garage, in his tool boxes. I can't say I mind - it's like Easter morning every day!!

    No excuse for not nesting in the coop, but, they do have a mind of their own.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,616
    5,379
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    2 ways to figure out if a chicken is laying or not, I find the point method to be more accurate.


    Condition of comb:
    Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
    Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.

    2 bony points on either side of vent:
    Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
    More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.

    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 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by