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#71262 - 03/15/04 11:23 AM Help with hiding/finding eggs

I have a few chickens that spend evenings in their pen (10x15 with a small coop) and days ranging the back yard (about 1/3 acre with some heavy brush hillside).

When I keep them in the pen till early afternoon, laying seems about right. When I let them out early in the day, egg production is down which makes me suspect they are laying elsewhere. I'ld like them to have as much "range" time as possible. Any advice to encourage egg laying in the nest box instead of under a bush? (I already have fake eggs in there)

#71263 - 03/15/04 12:14 PM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs

Most of the eggs I get are laid before noon. Of course there are a few who are not early birds :p when it comes to laying. If possible I'd just keep them penned until early afternoon. That MIGHT help solve some of your problem. OR you can look at it like an all year easter egg hunt and find the hidden nest! But letting them lay out and about does increase the risk of preditors finding the eggs before you do!

#71264 - 03/15/04 07:06 PM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs
Lacey Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 01/13/04
Posts: 427
Loc: Pennsylvania
My chickens pretty much know where to lay, there is 2 spots outside there pen in the barnt hat they lay an egg, in a corner of the barn and outside the barn under in the wheelwell of an old car (its been a while for that spot though). I let my chickens out at noon to discourage laying elsewhere. Usually all but 2 or so will have layed their egg already and the ones who havent layed will go back to the barn to lay their egg.

#71265 - 03/16/04 06:51 AM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs
Robert Stewart Offline

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 57
Loc: California
Most of our seven hens us the nest boxes but we have one we call Rover that just started laying in the garage sink next to the washer where my wife sits in the morning to UGH smoke.

#71266 - 03/16/04 11:17 AM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs

When a hen or pullet begins to lay she acts on instinct to build a nest and lay a clutch of eggs to hatch. When you take her eggs out of the nest she instinctively tries to find another, safer spot to lay a new clutch to hatch. Whether the hen is a strain that will go broody or not doesn't matter, she acts on instinct to gather her clutch.
By restricting the hen's area to her coop she will be forced to lay in the nests you provide but if given the choice she will find a nice, cozy spot to hide her eggs.
Each day the hen will lay her egg slightly later than the day before as it takes about 25 hours to produce one. So by keeping them locked up until noon you will get most but not necesarily all. There will be a few who will lay later in the day and will likely try to find a new spot which means you will have old eggs laying around waiting for predators to find them. Once you have attracted predators, they are hard to get rid of.
I never let my birds out to roam free, too many dogs and natural predators around. At one time I used to let them out in the early evening but don't do that anymore. Provide your birds with lots of area in an enclosed run and give them grass clippings and weeds from the garden. You will keep them safer and ensure that you get all of their eggs.

#71267 - 03/17/04 08:56 AM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs
Spotted Crow Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/24/03
Posts: 855
Loc: Massachusetts
Obelisk, my Leghorn, lays no earlier than 7:30 in the morning and no later than 4:30 in the afternoon. We'll see how that stands up in the summer, though.
Robertstewart, I think it's funny that Rover lays her egg in the sink.Obelisk's second favourite spot to lay in on the couch where everyone sits. I always make sure to check before I sit down. laugh

#71268 - 03/17/04 10:28 AM Re: Help with hiding/finding eggs
Ratbird Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 05/18/03
Posts: 324
Loc: California
We have one hen who, given the chance, will lay anywhere but the nest boxes inside the coop.

When they free range, I watch her. She is dead keen on finding new spots to lay eggs. In this way, she leads me to her new spots. (in saying that, I am yet to find her latest spot)

Perhaps replacing her eggs with fake eggs might make her feel more secure about that spot and she will continue to lay there instead of trying to find the ultimate hidden nest.


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