Occasional "chicken tractor" use, laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cheerful, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Cheerful

    Cheerful Out Of The Brooder

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    We are trying to solve an issue with our free-range chickens....they have been ranging over on to the neighbour's property (and they WILL go in the only direction that would cause a problem!). Fencing our whole property isn't an option so we are looking at only free ranging them when we are out for a while with them, and at other times enclosing them in a large fenced area, previously used for a short time for goats. The coop is not in this enclosure. I am home all day so can choose to put them in this enclosure at whatever time....unfortunately our girls don't all lay in the morning, so even if I keep them in for a bit somebody might want to lay in the afternoon. I know the enclosure would need shelter, food and water, and I'm wondering if I put nest boxes in there, do you think they would use them? I'm guessing it would be confusing to them if they sometimes had the option (or had to!) lay an egg in the coop, and then sometimes were out in the field and had to use a different box? I'm not exactly talking about building a chicken tractor, but same idea, hence the title, and I'm wondering if anybody has experience where chickens had to lay their eggs in a different spot? Like if you sometimes use a tractor and sometimes don't? Our coop has a small outdoor run attached so they can go in and out any time even when they are shut up - so if we went away for a weekend we would probably instruct our chicken-sitter to just leave them in (so they didn't have to try and get the chickens in the enclosed area) but would this cause more difficulty with the laying?
    Hmmm....maybe keeping them in for the morning would start to encourage them all to lay then? Not sure if it works that way.
    During the winter with the cold and snow, we didn't have any issue with them wandering, so we would probably just use the coop and free access in and out, so this other situation is just for the warmer months. Obviously, moving the coop to this enclosure would be best, but there are other reasons I don't want to do that - it's in a very good spot both for weather, and visibility.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas on this one. Thoughts of how we could make it work? Finding a way to make this work would be the next best thing to free-range, I think, since the fenced area is so big. (if we built a run we would never be able to afford something so large) I do love seeing them roam!
    thanks!
     
  2. BunkyB

    BunkyB Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you feel that the area where they cross to the neighbors is small enough that a roll of chicken wire and a few posts won't fix I would opt for that. First have a chat with the neighbor and barter out an arrangement. If the chicken wire thing is unsitely to the neighbor you can rig it roll roll out and roll back at night or when the girls finish free ranging.
    If the area is quite big you may also consider a small mobile coop for laying eggs and wheeling it in the goats pen? It is a sticky wicket trying to not bother the neighbors... I would try a compromise or ask the neighbor what he thinks is appropriate Just so you don't assume he is thinking the worst.. Good luck Very common occurance. Steve
     
  3. PSJ

    PSJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do your neighbors mind if the chickens come in their yard? Or maybe they wouldn't mind so
    bad if they got a dozen free eggs every now and then? :)
    If they don't want them in their yard, then I don't think it would be a problem to put them in the fenced in area you were talking about? You could, like you said, put nest boxes there, and water. I wouldn't worry about food if they are only free ranging there as going back in te coop at night (assuming you leave food in their coop at all times). Just try it that way. Chances are, they will lay in the nest boxes of you put them there. I'm not sure what your boxes are... Mine are milk crates turned on their sides... Maybe if you use the same thing in both places, they will know what it is for
     
  4. Cheerful

    Cheerful Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your ideas. We did consider talking to our neighbour and "buying" their freedom with some eggs but....our neighbour is a bit of an odd chap. On the plus side, he treats his property as a kind of "hunting camp" and is none to tidy, so in one sense, we don't worry overly about them getting over there. He obviously isn't concerned about his property, and is also not there all the time. But....we did have an issue about him "forgetting" some rotting carcasses on his property a few years ago, and his the kind of guy who quite likely has rat poison, or other stuff like that lying around, so we also figure it might not be the safest spot for them to roam. We thought about chicken wire along our border but it's quite long, plus we don't want them learning they can go down on the road to go around. Anyway, sorry, long story! I've been keeping them in most of the morning and then putting them in the "goat pen" - now chicken pen, I suppose! In the afternoon and so far it's going ok. (snow today, so they'll wander less and no need to shut them up) I'll try making some nest boxes and see how it goes. Or see if I can convince them all to lay in the morning....
     
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Have you thought about simply letting them lay in a chicken tractor full time? Put your nest boxes in a structure of some kind in your pasture and condition them to lay there.

    I think that if you put nest boxes in it that are like the ones they're used to, they'll use the structure idea you have and you won't have a problem. Well, you might have a problem where they decide to move into the structure and ignore your chicken house.
     

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