Backyard Chickens, Part 11 (or “We Have An Egg Hunt Every Day”)

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.

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5 Comments on “Backyard Chickens, Part 11 (or “We Have An Egg Hunt Every Day”)”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Great post! Thank you so much for your thoughts and insight! This spring I found 16 eggs hidden away in a dark corner of our barn. They were all the same size and shape, so I knew it was from the same chicken. I didn’t know how long they had been sitting there, so I tested them to make sure they were still safe. My mother taught me a trick for testing eggs years ago, and it works! Have you heard of the “float test”? If you put the eggs in a bowl of water the good ones will sink, and the bad ones will float. The test doesn’t fail. 🙂

    I made sure I used my newly found eggs within a couple days so the older ones wouldn’t go bad during that time, and we all survived. No rotten eggs, no sour tummies. 🙂

    I didn’t think about destroying the new nest, but thankfully the hen didn’t come back. I guess she realized she had been caught. I’ll definitely do that next time, though. I may not be so lucky then. Thanks again!



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