Why is it my chickens only lay eggs when they free-range?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickenphile, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. chickenphile

    chickenphile Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Feura Bush, NY
    I have five older hens they were laying 2-3 eggs a day. They stopped laying all of a sudden and started to eat their eggs. I started to let them free range and they started laying again? I am afraid to let them free range all the time because we have people in our neighborhood that let their dogs run around. Also they do not always go into the coop at night and I have to bait them in there.

    I have started to give them oyster shells and they get treats(from garden) all the time. They are in a 6 x 8ft pen with a 6 x 6ft outside covered pen.

    Is this normal egg laying behavior?

    thanks
    Chris
     
  2. Nuggetsowner:)

    Nuggetsowner:) Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2007
    Minnesota
    Just how old are they? Maybe they are just slowing down. Have you kept them in the coop long enough to see if this is really a pattern? I am not an expert. These are just some questions that came to mind as I read your post.
     
  3. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 25, 2008
    What are you feeding them?

    How much space do they have in the coop?

    And, where in the coop are your nestboxes(on the floor, up high, etc)?

    Also, what do you use for nest boxes?(metal nestboxes, cardboard boxes, etc)

    It seems to be environmental, whatever it is.

    -Kim
     
  4. chickenphile

    chickenphile Chillin' With My Peeps

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    119
    Jun 8, 2008
    Feura Bush, NY
    They are at least 3 years old. I am feeding them egglayer crumbles. They used to hop up the top of the coop. (There is a big cage like structure within the coop) and make a nest up high. I tried nesting boxes but they did not want to use them. They stopped doing that recently and started laying on the floor of the coop but I always found empty eggshells. (someone developed a taste for eggs) I a have noticed that they are more likely to lay if free ranging. When they free range they will go into the coop lay and then leave. I found three eggs today inside the coop in a nest on the floor.

    Can I train them somehow to lay in the coop without breaking or eating them? I have tried golf balls near where I want them to lay.

    As mentioned I don't feel comfortable letting them out all day while I am at work.

    Thanks
    Chris
     
  5. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 25, 2008
    I would try to get them to use their nestboxes. The nestboxes should be a little darker, it makes the eggs harder for the hens to see. I have my nest boxes about 3.5 feet off the ground. I leave golfballs in their nests which shows them where to lay. This way, by laying in darker nests off the ground, it keep those eggs out of sight and out of mind and out of beak..

    I am thinking that your hens are bored when they get cooped up all day. So their eyes turn on those eggs. When they free-range, they are too excited about going out and foraging, they lay their eggs and run off.

    You could also try hanging some large chunks of cabbage, whole/half apples, or anything else you can string up. By hanging the treats and letting them swing, it makes it harder for the hens to eat it all up and get bored again. You could try the treats on the days, you can't let them out to free-range and see if it helps their boredom.

    Some people have even tried various "toys", such ask hanging disks. Scattering some kind of bedding on the ground to make foraging more interesting. I use a pretty decent layer of straw spread across their run and then sprinkling Scratch grains or other treats into the straw. It makes them really comb through the straw.

    I think this would help with your problems. Hiding the eggs in nestboxes and keepin' them chooks busy.

    -Kim
     

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