When chickens are confined within a yard, finding chicken eggs is easy. They are normally all in the provided nests.
As soon as chickens are allowed to range, finding chicken eggs becomes challenging. For some of my hens the provided nest boxes are no longer the nests of choice.
At first I tried keeping the hens in the chicken yard until late in the afternoon. I assumed most of the hens would lay early in the day.
My hens did not lay early in the day. They preferred the afternoon.
Even those that would lay early, but wanted to lay somewhere other than the nest boxes, waited until after I opened the gate. There would be a mad dash for the favored nesting spot of each hen.
One barred rock hen hung around in the hen house waiting for me to open the door to go in with the feed bucket. She streaked out and dashed to the open barn door. In the middle of milking she would begin cackling and fly down from the hay bale where she had her nest.
That is one way to liven up milking time.
The hens won. I let them out after I finish morning milking. In the afternoon I start finding chicken eggs.
Some hens do still lay in the regular nest boxes so I check there first. The next stop is on that high hay bale. Luckily there is a ladder stored next to the hay.
Lately that spot is abandoned by most of the hens that did lay there. They’ve moved into the hay trough in the goat barn.
One hen has found a gap between hay bales on the floor. Some hens don’t bother with nests at all.
One morning I let the hens out. A speckled Sussex came out of the gate, squatted near my feet, popped out an egg and took off. Another egg was left near the goat water bucket.
The chicken yard is an expanse of dirt and gravel. The eggs are so much better if the hens have access to grass and other greens. The challenge is finding chicken eggs laid by hens running loose invariably leaves some out for the raccoons.
Raising chickens is a popular rural and, now, suburban pastime. Hazel didn’t start out a country girl. Find out why she became one in “Broken Promises.”