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Will Free-Rangers use nesting boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AngieB, May 23, 2010.

  1. AngieB

    AngieB In the Brooder

    Nov 29, 2009
    We have 12 chickens who are about 2 1/2 months old. They are our first chickens, and we've been letting them free range in the backyard during the day if we're around to keep an eye on them. When they get close to egg-laying age toward the end up summer, should we keep them in the run/coop area so we don't have to go on an egg hunt every day?

    Once they learn to use the nesting boxes, will the hens return to the coop to lay eggs? Or will they lay them all over the yard? We're clueless about this! [​IMG]

    We sure are loving our chickens [​IMG]
  2. tryingtohaveitall

    tryingtohaveitall Songster

    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Ohio
    I can only speak for mine and they do return back to the coop to lay their eggs. We did put golf balls in the nests and they caught on very quickly. We've only had a few laid on the floor and only a few laid outside the coop. Funnily enough, this spring we had a few laid on our deck. [​IMG]
  3. Sequin

    Sequin Songster

    May 20, 2008
    Ours have always laid in the coop - unless for some reason they can't get into it to lay their egg(like if the wind has blown the coop door shut). We have nest boxes and for the most part they use them, though on occasion there have been eggs laid on the floor or on a bale of straw. It happens, but I don't find it to be all that bothersome. I don't think we ever did anything special or particular to 'teach' them where to lay their eggs; probably for the most part they like to lay their egg where they feel safe - and typically that is in their coop.
  4. AngieB

    AngieB In the Brooder

    Nov 29, 2009
    Oh, that's great news! We were worried breakfast was going to involve a daily egg hunt!
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Mine also return to the coop to lay eggs...always have. Some folks have had issues with some of their birds laying in hidden places. If that happens, you may have to confine them to the run for a week or two until they get the idea. Golf balls, wooden eggs, or even plastic easter eggs placed in the nests can help give them the right idea...
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  6. kayri

    kayri Songster

    Jul 6, 2007
    When our chickens used to free-range (before all the predators on the planet found out we had chickens,) they would return to their box to lay. If they are used to returning to the coop at night/ bad weather, and if there are fake eggs in the nesting box, they should start laying there. Sometimes the first couple are a surprise to them, so they end up on the floor. Mine are only semi-free-range now, but they always do return to the nesting box to lay.
  7. juliemom25

    juliemom25 Songster

    Apr 4, 2009
    Last spring when we moved our chicks from the brooders in the garage to thier coop we left them in just the coop for two to three weeks. That kept them coming back to the coop to roost, etc. Well, when they all started to lay, we did the same thing. We have only ever found a couple eggs not in the nesting boxes and that was only at the beginning. Well, except for one loco silkie. It sometimes likes to lay in our barn (we found five there once). Ours free range almost every day!

  8. Mine range far and wide into the woods surrounding me. I have nesting boxes inside the coop, and they have access to the nest boxes that are out in separate pens in the run area. I say area because it is near the coop, but not completely fenced in. They return to the nest boxes to lay as far as I know. I check all the boxes for eggs and there are days I have one egg from each hen, and some days there aren't that many. That could be they lay them somewhere else but I don't think so. Some days there are more than others just because of the pattern of how chickens lay eggs. If they are laying them in the woods they are not laying too many there.

    I do get them on the floor once in awhile but that is no big deal. I use deep bed shavings and they are clean. Usually when they are laid in a corner, everyone adds to the clutch and some hen will go broody and sit on them. Happened twice this year. When that happens I put a covered nesting box in the same corner with the eggs and the hen and put a fence around her. One liked the fence and would take her daily break inside it, and one wanted out. I took that fence down, and everyone leaves her alone.
  9. TennesseeTruly

    TennesseeTruly Songster

    Mar 5, 2009
    Church Hill, TN
    MOST of mine go back to the coop. Of course we do have a few stragglers who have decided that the medicine chest in the barn is a good place to lay. LOL

    Why there, I don't know. Crazy chickens!

    The only ones of mine that won't go back to the coop to lay are my darn guineas! And if my husband don't stop letting them out at 6am so they can lay INSIDE BEFORE they go outside........GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  10. WV_Hillbilly70

    WV_Hillbilly70 Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Nashville, Indiana

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