Training where to lay


previously jwehl // dogs & cats & squirrels oh my!
Nov 3, 2020
Atlanta GA
(TL;DR at bottom)

I know you have to lock your free-range pullets into the area with the nesting boxes (coop, pen, whatever) in order to teach them where to lay. I've been avoiding it because I dont actually have the appropriate amount of space per bird, but now a bunch of them have bright red faces and combs so I'm going to try it. BUT I know stress will knock them off laying, so it seems counter-intuitive to take away their unlimited free-range space and coop them all up together.

They already sleep there and have worked out roosting - actually mixing it up every night with different birds next to different birds every night, which surprised me - so they definitely have enough roosting space. I could coop up fewer of them, but that would mean locking the others out which would break them of sleeping in the coop, which I think would be more annoying in the long run.

I have considered sectioning off half (that's the easiest spot to do it), keeping the red-faced ones on one side, moving the rest to the other side, putting up the divider, letting the non-layers out in the morning, reopening the whole space to the layers & then reopening the whole thing like 30 min before dusk for everyone else to go to bed and repeat. But that sounds like a lot of work.

I'm going to stop rambling now.

TL;DR not enough space to lock them up and feel guilty about it, but want eggs. what do?
I could also probably pull 4 pullets and put them in a different closed coop with a cock/rell and 5 ladies, but I dont want to knock them off laying either.
If they haven't begun laying yet, I'd wait to see if they use the boxes, even if you're a little short on space, it's really worth it to train them to lay where they should. You may even have to re-train them periodically.
There are some with paler faces that I would assume arent laying, but I'm not sure if the red-faced ones are laying yet or are almost there.
The last time I had pullets mature, they laid eggs all over the place, like in the middle of the driveway type stuff, not in any kind of hidden or even obvious nest. I haven't experienced that yet. But I have more hens around now so I dont know if that will teach the pullets to actually pick a spot.
I'd give your girls a chance to get it right, especially if there are mature hens already using the boxes correctly. Maybe get a fake egg or two to put in there if that won't encourage too much broodiness.
The hens are absolutely not laying in the boxes correctly. 😅 My hens are brats and they will pick a nice hidden place to lay that I will never find and come back with chicks. I love chicks so they get away with it. Occasionally theyll lay in one of their regular places (like in the chick brooder, in the corner of the storage pen, y'know, normal places *eyeroll*) and I'll get eggs for a week and then someone will go broody and ruin that spot for the rest of us. (I know now how to break a broody and may do that next time)
I got one of those hens to lay in a nesting box once by moving the place they were laying closer and closer to it each day and then they actually laid one egg in the box! And went broody. 😅😥

Right now I have two types of nesting boxes in with the pullets, one more closed in /private than the other.

One of each type has a fake egg in it.
Update: I just measured and it's not that bad. It's like 7sqft a bird.

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