The good thing about raising free range chickens is that you can provide the best quality of life for your animals. They get to roam around at will, taking dust baths, scratching for bugs and seeds, and picking at whatever they can find, to enrich their diet. But the problem is that they can lay their eggs anywhere in that range, making it hard to find them. Where do you look when you’ve looked everywhere to find where they are laying their eggs? Here are some tips that might help you.
Stake them out
Most laying hens lay during the later morning or early afternoon hours, likely between 9 am and 1 pm or so. So if you can keep tabs on their whereabouts during that time, you are likely to spot where they might be laying. They tend to stick to some semblance of a routine, going to a certain area during a specific time of day, or to a spot of dirt to sunbathe, for example. Watch for them sitting still and quiet, in one spot.
Check out old haunts
Our chickens like to lay in one spot for a while, then suddenly change to another location. They will often go back to old spots and lay there again, so check old hiding places, in case you get lucky.
Perk up your ears
Listen for that egg laying song. You’ll recognize it by the explosiveness of the call, which sounds something like, “Bok bok bok bok-KAAAK. Bok bok-KAAAK, bok-KAAAK.”
If you are having trouble locating their eggs, listen for that song. When you hear it, rush out to them and notice where they are. That will likely point you in the general vicinity of the stash.
Then search the area thoroughly. They like to lay in small, enclosed spaces. Our chickens’ favorite spots are corners of the compost pile, where they feel the heat of the compost below them, and the two sides of the walls against their butts. They have also laid inside buckets which are laying on their sides, or under things, like a woodpile or a leaning piece of tin roofing sheet metal.
When all else fails
If nothing else works, you can consider keeping them locked in the coop every day for a week or so, until they make it a habit to lay in there. Then you can either keep them inside until early afternoon, and then let them out to roam, or just give up and go back to your egg hunting adventures!
So there you have some practical, helpful tips to try to find where your free range chickens are laying their eggs. Rather than get frustrated, look on the bright side–it feels like an Easter egg hunt every day!