Will Free Range chickens lay in their coop?

VaticanChickens

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 21, 2014
8
0
67
Jamaica Plain, MA (Boston)
My hens are getting VERY close to egg laying age (16 weeks). They have a coop and a run, but during the day I let them free range until dusk. Will they 'automatically' lay in their nesting boxes in the coop? Should I keep them in the run until a certain time of day until I know they've started laying?

We raised chickens when I was growing up - but they were always in the run so this wasn't an 'issue'.
thanks!
Ken
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,860
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St. Louis, MO
What you are suggesting isn't a bad idea. You want them to develop the habit of laying in the nest. The trouble is that you won't know when the first egg will come, especially this time of year.
It won't hurt to leave them in the run till about 10 AM once the combs and wattles get bright red and they start checking out the nests.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,319
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
What you are suggesting isn't a bad idea. You want them to develop the habit of laying in the nest. The trouble is that you won't know when the first egg will come, especially this time of year.
It won't hurt to leave them in the run till about 10 AM once the combs and wattles get bright red and they start checking out the nests.
Ditto^^^...or maybe even later, mid afternoon.
 
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Just sayin

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 9, 2014
184
44
88
Ours free range and they all go back to the coop to lay when it's their time. Mostly... only had one so far lay a stray egg on top of the hay stack in the barn - and that was today. Can't say I blame her - she was close to the right place. Hopefully she'll get it right next time.
 

krista74

Songster
5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
1,576
302
158
Victoria, Australia.
Mine have a coop with a run attached to it. I let them out of their coop at about 8.30am, but they are still contained within the run. The only place they can go from there is back into the coop!

Usually by 10.30am the morning layers have laid their eggs. They will go into the coop to do that - always. At that point I let them out to free-range for the day, and the rooster will round them up for me again at dusk, taking all his girls to bed.

The afternoon layers always go back to their coop to lay. Even if they have to separate themselves from the rest of the group who are free-ranging, and walk the entire distance of our property alone, they will. To date, I have not found an egg outside of the coop.

The only thing I did to train them was when I first bought them all home, I locked them in their coop for a week. Poor things, they must have been so bored! But it established the coop as the safe and acceptable place to lay, so I'm glad I did it. If I ever move house I'd do the same again.

Krista
 

JodyJo

Songster
9 Years
Sep 27, 2010
2,786
53
188
Colorado
with my first flock, almost all of them would go back into the coop to lay...now I have a new flock, and even with keeping them inside all day and night, they ignore the boxes, found 2 eggs in the poop tarp under the roost, and my 3rd hen that is now laying took off like a bolt when I finally let them out, to lay in her spot under the tractor....she held it in for over 24 hours! Even when I catch her and put her in the boxes, ( I use buckets) she will just hop out....so I am getting aggravated now...how to train them..
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,319
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
with my first flock, almost all of them would go back into the coop to lay...now I have a new flock, and even with keeping them inside all day and night, they ignore the boxes, found 2 eggs in the poop tarp under the roost, and my 3rd hen that is now laying took off like a bolt when I finally let them out, to lay in her spot under the tractor....she held it in for over 24 hours! Even when I catch her and put her in the boxes, ( I use buckets) she will just hop out....so I am getting aggravated now...how to train them..
Try something larger than buckets, I'm assuming 5 gallon buckets...I found them to be kind of small.
They'll fit in there nicely but not quite room enough to turn around comfortably without bending the tail in half.
Even my smallest bird preferred the larger nests which are 16" tall, 14" wide and 14" deep with a 10" diameter entrance hole.
 

JodyJo

Songster
9 Years
Sep 27, 2010
2,786
53
188
Colorado
Try something larger than buckets, I'm assuming 5 gallon buckets...I found them to be kind of small.
They'll fit in there nicely but not quite room enough to turn around comfortably without bending the tail in half.
Even my smallest bird preferred the larger nests which are 16" tall, 14" wide and 14" deep with a 10" diameter entrance hole.
well, I would believe that if the spot they went to was that size, but its not...its a tiny hole under the lawn tractor...barely enough room to move...its comfy and cozy I guess...I am going to try a different bedding and put a box in the coop and try that...maybe they just don't like the buckets..and yes, large buckets is what I am using...the same kind you can buy online from stores...
 

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