Monday, August 18, 2014

Beating Them At Their Own Game

This blurry picture of me and Amelia captures perfectly the daring spirit of some of my chickens.
They cannot be bothered with staying within the four "walls" of the chicken run.
I never had this problem with chickens before I put up the 3-rail fence for the donkeys.
It butts right up against the chicken run.
The chickens now have a visual landing spot for their escape.
The chickens before them could not figure out where the top of the fence was, and so never escaped.
I could probably jury-rig something to keep them from doing this. 
However, I have realized over my years as a chicken keeper that some things are just not worth the trouble.
 Keeping a chicken "in" when it wants to be "out" is a lesson in futility.
Every. Single. Time.

Case in point.
I once found 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) eggs in one hidden nest.
With at least 4 hens going on a walk-about every day, I wanted badly not to go on an Easter egg hunt each day to look for eggs.

I decided to let the hens think they were in charge, but used their "creatures of habit" personalities against them.

 I set up nest boxes in places they frequent while out on their rounds.
Amelia and Marie love the garage. 
I don't know why.
Amelia: Hmmm, there's an egg.
No blood, no feathers, no dismembered body---must be safe to lay here. 
 I used the old ploy of putting an egg in the nest box to signal to the girls that its safe to lay here.

Here's another outside-the-run nest box.

It's important that the boxes be hidden, so to speak.
My hens will not lay an egg in a place where they feel exposed to predators.  
As you can see, my ploy worked.
The egg with the X is the planted egg.  This is so I can tell which one is fresh and which one is not.

Here, Eleanor demonstrates where good hens should lay their eggs.

In the nest box.  In the coop.
I should be so lucky!

But, my idea is sound.
My adventurous hens can go their own way each day, but I can still find their eggs with no trouble at all.
Happy chickens mean more eggs.
That's something I can live with.


  1. Your hens are like my daughter-in-lwas hens. They lay everywhere but the nesting box. We find eggs on the tractor seat, behind the hay bales, in between feed bags. Well, you know all the usual places. Always a challenge when looking for eggs.

  2. Now you have FREE RUN hens...heck why not!