Home » chickens » The hens are not happy with me… no egg today :-(

The hens are not happy with me… no egg today :-(

The hens have been free-ranging all day for the last 5 days, since Cleo has started laying, because I was working at home. But today I had to go back into the office, so I left them in their coop. When I came home to let them roam for a bit, I was expecting to find an egg (Cleo had been laying them in the late morning) but alas, there was none. I’m guessing it was because their schedule was thrown off, or maybe Gloria wasn’t giving her any privacy, or maybe it’s because I moved their coop yesterday, or they are just plain peeved about being cooped up…or all of the above? I got them some crushed oyster shell tonight, which they seemed to enjoy, so maybe that will pacify them, and there will be an egg in the morning? It’s such a dilemma: I wish I felt more comfortable leaving them out when we’re gone, I know they’d be much happier, but all the raccoons in our neighborhood scare me, especially after they killed our chick Fluffy. Any advice, fellow chicken keepers? Is the quality of life for them worth the risk? They are bigger now, so maybe they could escape into the bushes or defend themselves from the racoons?

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The kittens would probably say “They are lucky they get to run around outside at all! We only get to look at it through the window.”

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6 thoughts on “The hens are not happy with me… no egg today :-(

  1. We have had several unfortunate incidents while our chickens were free ranging. Dogs will snap up a large hen just as fast as a fox will. We’ve lost too many, and you know how tragic that can be! Now we simply let our girls free range in the fenced garden area every day when we get home from work. I wish is could be more, but I’d rather have them safe.

    • It’s nice to hear that you feel the same. Dogs? Yikes! Our yard is fenced, but there are some week spots that a dog could get through if it really wanted to. There are also a few coyotes around here. I really don’t want to go through that heartbreak again if we don’t have to. At least when we’re home, and anything remotely threatening comes into the yard, they cluck REALLY loud, so I can go out and chase it off, like I did with the raccoons one morning. What I’m really worried about is that the days are getting shorter and shorter, so we will be leaving and coming home when it’s dark. I hate for them to only get to roam the yard on the weekends. Maybe we just need to build a really big run for them that encloses their coop? At least that way, I would feel better about them having more room to forage when we’re gone.

  2. We don’t have racoons in Sydney but we have foxes and I’ve known people who have lost chickens to big lizards (goannas). Like you I don’t feel safe leaving my girls free ranging even though my back yard is fenced unless I’m around to hear one of their squawks (when they are frightened by something, they let you know). My solution is what you’re talking about – a big run which incorporates their coop. It is fox proof (though not bird proof or possum proof so probably not racoon proof. You’d need a roof for that.) I see you already found my post about my run http://laurarittenhouse.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/chicken-coop/. At night or when I leave home, I lock the girls in this run (I never lock the coop door since the run is fox proof). When I’m hope and every morning I open it and let them free range. One consequence of this is all my vegetables are now fenced in because the chickens eat most and dig over what they don’t eat. No one said chickens were hassle free – but boy are they worth the hassle.

    • Thanks for the advice! Your run looks amazing, I’d like to try something like that. Foxes sound scarier than racoons! And I agree that they are worth the hassle, I never thought I would love them so much!

  3. You know, the more I think about it and research it, I’m pretty sure that any run we built around their coop would need to be built really well with fine gauge chicken wire and a roof and dug in fencing or a foundation in order to keep raccoons out. Raccoons can tear open the chicken wire with the larger holes, and it might make it harder to escape than just being in the yard and flying up into the laurel bushes. I feel really good about our coop and small run being predator proof now, but I wonder if they would be better off free-ranging during the day with our large laurel bushes for protection than they would be with a simple wire fenced in area. Thoughts?

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