Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Treasure hunt

If there's one thing chickens love to do, it's to find a dark and quiet little hidey-hole to lay their eggs.

Some people get around this tendency by keeping chickens locked in their coop until noon or so, to force the hens to lay in their laying boxes. Not us. We release the birds at dawn and let the chips (eggs?) fall where they may.

So it's always a treasure hunt to find the eggs, especially in a barn full of hay bales. And let me tell you, chickens love hay bales.

Hay bales are like chicken condos.

So it's no surprise that a lot of eggs end up hidden in the barn. The other day, for example, I noticed suspicious activity in this surprisingly narrow (four inches or so) crack.

I mean, we're talking narrow. Getting in would be a breeze, but backing out? It must ruffle their feathers backwards the whole way.

Regardless, this was clearly a favored laying spot.

I didn't realize just how favored until I started pulling out the eggs. Twenty-three. Impressive.

To the annoyance of this hen, I collected them all except for one, which I left behind as a "nest egg" to encourage the hens to keep using that spot.

It didn't work. Now they're laying somewhere else. Another treasure hunt in the making, tally ho!


  1. Your story reminds me of what we used to do. With the high price of feed we finally gave up and fenced them in to a lot around the coop. I miss having them run free but we started loosing them to predators as they wouldn't come in at night. So now we just go to the nest box and get the eggs and we don't have an easter egg hunt every day.

  2. Just a word of warning about chickens and cattle. A few years ago I had a small egg business. Kept about 50-60 birds in my barn that I also used for my first calves. I was transforming over to cattle. One of the calves got out and headed directly to the chicken waterer. Before I could get the calf back in it had drank some from the chicken water. Within 3 days the calf was dead. The Vet said it was Salmonella Scours. I lost my 500 lb bull calf that was going to be my herd sire. Needless to say I don't keep chickens anywhere near my cattle or hay. Just be careful feeding hay with chicken poop. Especially young calves at weaning. They are stressed enough.
    Idaho Bill

  3. That is one of my fondest memories growing up. My great aunt allowed her chickens to run everywhere. We would climb to the very top of the hay bales & find chicken eggs in the strangest places. That's probably one of the biggest reasons I wanted chickens once I got my mini-farm.

  4. I only have three hens left (more on the way next year?) and two ALWAYS lay them together in the nest box. The other one will be walking along, squat and take off to wherever. I've found eggs between rocks, in the wheel barrow, in the barn and under the deck! You must have laughing to yourself when you found all those eggs!

  5. We also enjoy the hunt - sometimes they choose the nest box, more often the hay barn, sometimes little hidey holes in the woods. It's like Easter morning every day!