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Are our hens taking us for a ride??

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:53 am
by MrsD'ville mkII
We've had hens for about 10 days. All seemed to be going well, but we've discovered one hen has been staying out at night. DH thought he had them all in (six) but one had snuck off. We've found its hidey-hole and blocked it - after collecting the eggs - and have since found two more egg sites, as well as discovering that the other hens had begun laying in random places too. We followed the farm's advice of keeping them in the henhouse for the first 24 hours and thought we were doing everything right, which by and large must have been the case as some hens were laying in the hen house.

Sorry, this is turning into an epic. I rang the farm yesterday asking advice and they suggested keeping the hens in the house for 36 hours so that they're effectively forced to lay in there once, maybe twice, and will get into the habit. It feels horrible keeping the poor things cooped up on such a nice day but I suppose it has to be done. The henhouse is clean, they have food, water and, usually, the run of the place (an acre of mixed land) - does anything obvious leap out at anyone as to why they might be doing this, and do you think keeping them in for 36 hours will solve the problem?


Re: Are our hens taking us for a ride??

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:02 am
by Millymollymandy
I'm quite surprised they suggested that your new hens could free range over such a large area when they are new to you and their environment. I kept mine inside for a couple of days but then when they went outside they were in a run. I would never in a million years let them out to free range straight away. You've got to get them used to where home is, where the food is and where the nest boxes are, and get them used to come running to you when you have food. Can't you make a temporary run for them for a couple of weeks?

Re: Are our hens taking us for a ride??

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:09 pm
by MrsD'ville mkII
Thanks for the responses. Following the advice of the farm we kept them in for another 36 hours, by which time there were 10 eggs, and we're going to let them out a bit later in the morning so that they will have laid in the house. We did that this morning and there were six eggs, so it seems to be working. Hoping that after a week or two of a later let-out they will be very sure where home is! We've also been putting them to bed the last couple of nights rather than waiting til they troop in so that no-one can slope off.

A run is a great idea but we don't have the materials and DH reckons the ground by the coop is too hard to sink anything into. He's probably right as our house is surrounded by only thinly landscaped rock. Anyway, here's hoping we're onto the problem now. They still seem happy.