?? When they grow up???

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ChicaChicken, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. ChicaChicken

    ChicaChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    Michigan
    Hello All [​IMG]

    Well my boyfriend and I picked up our babies on Saturday. [​IMG] So far so good!!! We have nine little girls 3 NH Reds, 3 RI Reds, and 3 Wydottes (? spelling).
    We would like to allow them to come and go as they please when they are old enough but [​IMG] will they go to the coop to lay the eggs when it's time?
    Thank you for your help!!!!!!!!!!!
    Maria
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Good question. My answer is most of the time.

    You will need to keep them in the coop for at least a week before you allow them to free range so they will recognize the coop as home. That way, they will return to the coop to roost as it gets dark and you can lock the doors to keep predators out. Since that is home, they will probably start laying in there and continue to do so. But, sometimes one decides that there is some place outside that makes a perfect nest and will start laying there. With mine, I'd say about 1 in 15 does that, even after they have been laying in a nest in the coop, so I would say there is a fair chance that one of yours will do that at some time.

    What I suggest is that you provide nests in the coop by the time they are 16 weeks old. Many people keep them locked up until they are 16 weeks old so they get used to roosting on the roosts instead of in the nests. Then open up the nests and put a fake egg in there. You can use a golf ball, wooden egg, or something like that. I've used those plastic Easter eggs but I fill them with sand and glue them shut so they are heavier and don't get kicked out of the nest as easily. Chickens like to lay where other chickens are laying. Those fake eggs help teach them where you want them to lay.

    When chickens go on the nest to lay, they often scratch and squirm around to create a nest cavity. Sometimes they scratch out the nesting material or eggs that are already in there when they do that. I find that putting a 5" or 6" lip on the nest helps keep them from scratching anything out.

    Why 16 weeks? Some chickens can start laying that young. I've had a few that did. Most don't lay that young, but it does happen. You want that nest available for them so they learn to lay in the right place. Chickens are creatures of habit. If they start laying somewhere else, like on the floor in the corner of the coop, they will probably continue to lay there instead of moving to a nest.

    Often, when they first start to lay, they will drop eggs anywhere, from the roost or just where they happen to be. Don't worry about that if it happens. Sometimes it takes them a while to learn how to control the laying process. Once they learn how to control the process, they usually seek out a good nesting place to lay the egg. You want that to be the nests.

    If you find one is laying outside instead of in the coop, you can lock them all in the coop or coop and run for about a week to break them of the habit of laying anywhere else. It also helps a lot to find the outside nest and remove any eggs in it. Usually this retrains the hen the first time, but I had to do it three separate times to break one stubborn hen.

    A bit more on when they might start to lay. While one might possibly start to lay at 16 weeks, with your 9 hens, it is much more likely that the first egg will come around 20 to 23 weeks. Most should be laying by the time they are 7 months old. But this varies a lot by the individual hen. Many people don't get their first egg until much later. Sometimes they all start to lay by 24 weeks. It really is just the luck of the draw.

    Good luck! Hope this helps.
     
  3. ChicaChicken

    ChicaChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    Michigan
    Thank you for all your help!!!!!! I knew I would get an answer and apperciate all the detail! [​IMG]
     

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