Trials of a "Chicken Trainer"

My old hens were at the end of their laying years when I bought   new chicks last spring.  Since it takes about 6 months until the new hens are ready to lay, I kept the two old ones for the few eggs they did lay...  Now it's time for the new layers to start egg production and they are trying my patience.

They were avoiding the nesting boxes and trying to lay their eggs in the shavings on the floor of the roost.  I know from past years  hens like a really dark box so I completely covered the nesting boxes with black plastic so no light gets in around the lids of the boxes. Then I took all of the shavings off the floor of the roost.  Of course now I have to practically crawl in the roost to reach the boxes but once they are used to using the nesting boxes I can remove the plastic...

It also helps to have a pseudo egg in the nesting box.  When I was a child my grandfather had two gorgeous marble eggs he used.  He used to tease me to be sure and check carefully when I gathered eggs because if I gathered a marble one I would have to eat it for breakfast... So 35 years ago when I got my first chickens, I searched out a couple gorgeous marble eggs. 

My old neighbor bluntly told me that golf balls worked much better.  Over the years he has been proven right.  I kept trying though.  The hens avoided the nest with the marble eggs and consistently chose a nest with the golf balls.  Sometimes there would be 3 eggs in with the golf ball and maybe 1 egg (or none)  in the box with the marble egg.  Sometimes they would even maneuver the marble egg right out of the nest.. So I keep my beautiful marble eggs in an egg basket and fondly remember my wonderful grandfather.

And my efforts have paid off as both yesterday and today they have laid their eggs inside the nesting boxes.

The deer come each day for water and after they have checked under the apple and plum trees, they eat any sunflower seeds under the bird feeder.  Morris quietly watches their every move.  This doe has twins and the other one is just to  the left out of range of my camera.  The deer and I have learned to coexist.  I would miss them terribly if they weren't part of my day. 


Marilyn said...

Good to hear your hens are finally getting the message. And I've missed seeing Morris pictures. We had a milder winter last year so didn't have as many deer around and there don't seem to be very many this fall either.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I learned something today - I didn't know that chickens needed to be taught where to lay their eggs. My mother had chickens when I was a child, but I avoided the pen at all costs - she always managed to have a few birds that were mean and I hated getting pecked (or downright attacked).

margaret said...

we learn something every day, thought egg laying just happened. Maybe the marble eggs are too cold for the chickens! How lovely to have the deer visiting that is as long as they do not get destructive with your garden plants

Unknown said...

Gerry, I'm so happy to read about the chickens finally laying eggs! Its was time, but you are certainly a master of "patience" :)
A big hug from Como, Italy. I miss you!

Susan Elliott said...

Oh how I love to hear the story of your grandfather and his marble eggs. I wonder if he lived where it was warm all the time? Marble can get so cold that I wouldn't want to see on one of those things...my ass is already an ice cube...so much so that I want to create a pair of cozy pants...(and I mean the cozies that are the microwaveable corn variety).

I am fascinated to learn about training the hens to lay. I think I would love to have chickens but my homeowners assocation wouldn't allow it. I also wouldn't mind a goat or two on my back hill. I've always loved all those animals but I'm horribly allergic to them all so I'm afraid my asthma keeps me from my inner farmer.

I too have made friends with the deer in my yard. I sit at the window at my frame and they keep me company at the bottom of my hill. They have it so much harder around here than we humans in this megalopolis between D.C. and NYC.

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