In yesterday’s post about trying to stop a flock egg eater’s behavior, I mentioned setting up an outdoor nesting area.
One of my readers contacted me and asked what I meant by that and could I supply a photo?
First of all, remember that we are located in New Hampshire. I don’t think that we will be seeing our lawn for a few months, but I’ll do my best to explain what I meant about an outdoor nesting area.
We allow our chickens to free range in our entire yard as long as someone (often me) is out there with them. This is because although we have leash laws in our town, a few of our neighbors choose not to follow them. It’s okay, a “shoo” here and a well thrown stick there usually keeps intruders out of our yard and away from the flock.
If someone is not able to be outside with the chickens while they are in the yard then we lock them up in what was once our black lab’s 6 foot tall fenced-in large area. Although some of our chickens will hop the fence, it’s usually not for too long because of our constant “chicken checks.” And even if allowed to fully free range, we always have some chicken-chickens who would rather stay and forage in the pen than risk being exposed in the wild open areas of our yard.
In a sandy corner of that pen (and under an overhang of the house) I set a few horse feed buckets on their side. Horse buckets are the ones that are flat on one side and are perfect for nesting boxes. Also, when I can get them from the grocery store, I’ll put put a few wooden crates (apple boxes are super for this) nearby and fill them with straw. (Note, although helpful, the wooden crates can be rather flimsy and usually don’t survive through winters.)
Although I try to put some straw in the buckets, the chickens usually kick it out. But, the girls don’t seem to mind and will go ahead and lay their eggs anyway.
As a result of creating this dedicated area, our outdoor eggs are *always* found in these buckets and boxes (but remember our chickens were taught this behavior since day one.) It certainly makes life a little easier for us.
It’s also important to note that the ground is very sandy in that corner and so the chickens also gravitate to that area for dirt baths. It’s definitely a desirable piece of property if you are a chicken.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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