So, you’ve got a nice flock of chickens on your homestead, but a couple of problems have cropped up. What do you do now? In the next few installments, I’ll try to address some of them and share what we’ve learned and tried.
The Chickens Don’t Lay Where I Want Them To. Sometimes I Can’t Find The Eggs At All!
Free range chickens often like to find their own safe (well-hidden) spots to lay their eggs. We came upon a stash of 15 in the tall weeds beneath the rabbit hutch recently. They’ve chosen shadowed corners of the barn stall, among the stored rolls of hay, and underneath farm equipment, too.
To combat this, we “destroy” any makeshift nests we find (mow the weeds, tuck the tarp around the hay better, etc.). Basically, remove the appealing aspects (nesting materials, privacy, and shade) and make the place you want them to lay more like their choices.
We have “apartment-style” nesting boxes in our henhouse. The most popular ones are those with little “curtains” that create a darker more private environment, away from the people door. We keep those full of soft shavings or straw. One of the best helps is to stock it with fake eggs.
Chickens aren’t the sharpest creatures on the homestead and apparently not too observant. We put golf balls in the “best nests” to encourage the ladies to lay there.
Hens are more likely to lay their own eggs in a spot that another hen has already deemed “safe” or “primo.” You don’t want to leave real eggs in the boxes for several reasons (they may get broken, they may spoil, and they may become partially “set” are among those reasons).
Some people use wooden eggs or even plastic Easter eggs. When we first had this problem, I had neither so I used what was on-hand. I doubted that I’d fool them, but decided to give it a try. All these years later, they’ve never questioned the roundness or the dimples.
We’ve even fooled chicken snakes- but that’s a story for another time.