Secret nest

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by nkiwndrmom, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. nkiwndrmom

    nkiwndrmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello I have 16 hens and 1 rooster who all live happily in their coop and run at night but free range in a safe fenced in area during the day. I average 9 beautiful delicious eggs a day and up until now I've never had any issues or problems. The girls have always used their nesting boxes and I have never found an egg laid outside of the coop........until last night. The grandparents are visiting from Colorado and along with my 11 year old they spotted a nest of 11 clean, pretty little eggs all perfectly nestled way far back underneath a big shrub area of wildlife blackberries! Today I plan on watching to see if I can catch the sneaky lady but when I figure out who it is what do I do? I have never had a hen take off and they all get locked up every night. So do I destroy the nest and what to do with the eggs? Throw them, dunk them and see if they are fresh or move them somewhere safe with mama and let her do her thing? I've only had my kids for 6 months so this is all new to me! I am an absolute forever chicken owner because this small 4-H project has turned into so much more than I ever expected! I planned on in the spring time letting a hen sit to see if we can get chics but it's almost winter and I worry that it's the wrong time. I'm so lost as to my next move here! Please help! When the sun comes up I'll get a picture of the secret nest.
     
  2. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Now that you know where the secret nest is, just collect there everyday. She's not sitting on them at night, so she isn't broody, she just likes the location. It may be several hens laying there, not just one. We have a larger flock, 39 layers, and they have decided my wood working shop is cozy. We get 4-6 in there each day. I locked them down for a week to retrain them to lay in the nesting boxes, but the day they got out, they went right back to the shop.
    We found a secret guinea nest in the woods a couple weeks ago with 17 eggs. My wife dunk tested them and all passed the test. We scrambled them up for breakfast. I'd try to keep the eggs if they pass.
    I say leave the nest and just collect the eggs so no predator will be attracted to them.
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd open each one in a separate dish for the looksee and sniff test before adding to recipe or pan.

    Mess up that nest and maybe put something in there to make it unappealing to them...the lock them all up for a week.

    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 3-4 days (or longer) 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 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. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
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  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My flock free ranges and my lot use sneaky nests all the time. My egg collection is actually a daily egg hunt which can involve ladders and crawling into awkward nooks and crannies. I've tried to retrain them but I don't have a run, so they either have to be locked in the hen house or free to roam. Some do use the official nest boxes but most like to be sneaky and will even wait all morning and dash out as soon as I open the door . Now I try to accommodate their sneakiness by placing nest boxes in places that I think they will like but are easy for me to access. They go in phases between the nest boxes I put out. There will be a favourite for a few weeks and then it will go quiet and a different one starts getting used. Every now and then I make a new one and sometimes I will get eggs in it the same day I put it out, which I take as a merit award for choosing a good spot.

    At this time of year I would probably remove the eggs but it is always interesting to know which are your sneakiest hens, so watch it for activity first. I agree with doing a float test and if they pass, then cracking them individually into a container. If they smell ok, I use them. A couple of years ago between Christmas and New Year I found a secret stash of 47 little pink and blue eggs laid by my wonderful broody hen Tasha and one of her daughters. It was such a huge pile that eggs were rolling down it and out of the nest which was in the wall under the eaves in my old stone stable and landing on the flooring of the loft a foot below. I cottoned on to it because I heard a commotion up there one day. Even though only two hens had been laying in it, all the eggs were edible. I had assumed they had knocked off laying for the winter until I found their stash. After that I put a brick in their chosen site and put a nest up there that I could easily access from a ladder next to the hatch for the loft. The floor is rotten in places, so it wasn't feasible to block access to the loft area and the new nest box next to the hatch was clearly an adequate alternative. I have an old ladder permanently in situ now for egg collection and 2 years later I still get eggs up there and I even had two broodies co-brood up there this summer.

    Hopefully your hen will go broody next spring when the weather is warmer and conditions better suited to raising chicks.
     
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  5. nkiwndrmom

    nkiwndrmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much! The eggs were all good. Not sure who the sneaky hen is but I will keep a look out for more to collect!
     
  6. nkiwndrmom

    nkiwndrmom Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG] Here is the nest! So pretty although I did miscount, there were 10 eggs!
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looks like you may have at least a couple of sneaky hens judging by the different shades of egg shell. Little monkeys!
     

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