Downside to Free-ranging

When the Gems first began to lay eggs, I kept them in the coop and enclosed run, so that they would learn to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes. It worked. Today I let the hens free-range. Jasper needed to lay an egg. She left the green grass and sunshine, hurried inside, left an egg in the nesting box, and then trotted back outside.

But there’s always one in the bunch who is too busy,


and having too much fun,


and so does this.

egg in grass


    • Opal lays a distinctive roundish, large, pale brown, wrinkled egg. So, yes, like a ball. And that’s how I knew the culprit.

  1. Hehe! I finally broke down and bought REAL nesting boxes( Thank you, Terry!)….but yet…eggs are still laying everywhere. Yesterday I opened the door on one and that caused a riot!

    • Have you put dummy eggs in there? Even golf balls will do. Otherwise they won’t know what they’re for.

  2. At least she laid it in grass and not in mud or a pile of poo.

    • I was wondering if she knew to lay it in the grass or if it was just incidental. That mud looks pretty good for exploration, but messy.

  3. Terry, I know this has nothing to do with chickens, but your the only other person I know who has a chihuahuah even thought you got his as a puppy. We just two days ago adopted a five year old female deerheaded Chihuahua and we know nothing about little dogs. I was wodnering if their was a certain book that you used to train Scooter than focused on little dogs like chihuahua’s. She is very nervous, but doesn’t seem bitey at all. She did run get jealous or protective of me earlier and chased one of my cats that I was loving on from the couch we were sitting on. I want to start training her know and keep her from trying to protect me, and not growl or chase the other animals or any other people if they approach me or my mother. So far all she has done is chased the cat off and barked/growled at him. She otherwise is ignoring the cats and vice versa though our young cat she chased off is very curious about her. So if you have any suggestions I would like know.
    I know we probably a few weekss after her spay incision has healed get her in a dog training class somewhere to get us used to having a younger dog again and to see what we can do with her.
    She also is not eaing mucn, and is snubbing her nose at regular dog food. Though she did eat some peanut butter with bread. At the time it was all I had, and she had gotten under the bed and I had needed to get her out.
    Later my mother will fix her some chcken and rice to see if she will eat it.

    • Hello Kit!
      I am not Terry but I do have four chickens, five parrots, and two chihuahuas. My 15 year old chi is somewhat mellow towards the “girls.” I honestly believe it is because he has limited vision. My second chi I just adopted two months ago. He is five years old and a prey animal. He goes after my chickens, my parrots, bees, ant hills, flies…anything that is moving in the yard. Dear Kit…you need to take your chi to your vet for a check up. My experience with chihuahuas is that they become very protective of their territory. I have also learned that they need obedience classes. I hope this helps. I LOVE my chihuahuas. I LOVE by birds. It takes work and maneuvering but you can make it happen as long as you don’t sit back and expect it to happen. I hope this helps.

      • Called our vet, and they said to wait a few days so she can relax. When you adopted your second chihuahua did he refuse to eat at your house for a few days ? Our is drinking water, and has eaten some peanut butter but is snubbing her nose at all offers of wet and dry dog food. I will also try to keep the cats away from her and vice versa. But our house very small and open with only three doors on the bathroom and the bedrooms. So when we can we will close the bedroom door to my mother’s room when they are in it. Or mine when I am in my room with my cats.

    • Scooter is my first little dog, and he’s been so much fun. Chihuahuas have big personalities and attitude! The first thing to think about is how to manage the environment and the other animals around her to make her comfortable. She’s older and likely has issues and insecurities. All of a sudden joining a household with multiple animals and people can increase a dog’s resource guarding and other problematic behaviors. Try to manage the interactions between her and the other animals so she’s not threatened, and has no chance to threaten others. For the time being can you keep them separate? Then introduce so that the interactions are all positive. Reward her when the cat is near. Reward her when you pet the cat. That sort of thing. Having a safe crate, that she sees as a secure place (not a place of banishment) is always a good thing. Little dogs can be fussy and slow eaters. I have an cozy feeding area for Scooter that Lily can’t access. Don’t let her dictate to you what she’ll eat. Ask your vet about the right diet and stick to it. I assure you that she won’t starve! Worse is overfeeding. Lastly, I believe in using positive reinforcement training. When training her, remember that a little dog has a hard time looking all the way up to read your face and body language. Also, she might be afraid of being stepped on. I trained Scooter using a target stick, so that I could move normally and not stoop over, and so that Scooter could focus on that stick and not have to strain looking up all of the time. I also did a lot of work while on the ground with him. Enjoy!

      • Thanks Terry, I will read this information off to my mother in the morning. And we will start to train her with treats around the cats and postivie reinforcement. I don’t think she is crate changed, because she was absolutely terrified when we showed it to her gentlely. And we will definitely be seeking out obedience classes after her spaying incsion has healed. Whoever had her before seemed to have spoiled her silly, and even we think feed her at the dinner table. I will try treats around the crate, it’s our Morgan’s old crate from when he was a puppy from 14 years ago. It’s all we have right know, and was made for sheltie sized dog, instead of a chihuahua. My mother was already saying we were putting her in doggy jail. Hopefully I can convince her its not doggy jail. And as for feet, seems to be very wary of them and looks out for them. Someone at the shelter reccommended putting a bell on her so we can hear her, and we had a small cat bell that we put on her. It doens’t seem to bother her. It’s just weird because we had Morgan for so long and he was a larger smaller dog at 25 pounds being a sheltie/papillon mix. And well my mother wanted another breed because the thought of a papillon just hurt too much. We have been looking and Lunabelle just clicked with her. She’s also the female dog my mother has ever had, and just our second dog ever. She did seem to have been breed before, and is really really missing her old owner. I wish I could make feel better, but I will use your comments on how to train her and help her to see her establishment in the pack. It is funny though, our two cats are twice her size.

  4. LOL you are to funny! Now you have me wondering outside of the box! LOL

  5. Does Jasper have an Egg Song? Terry, I am so enjoying your posts. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  6. Terry my birds have always laid in the box except for my little less than a year old silkie, she thinks under the roosting bar is better, so yesterday when i went to get eggs, all of th nesting boxes were empty, but the spt under the roosting bar was full of eggs from 9 girls !?!?!?!? timw to block off the area under the bar….

    Kit I would advise against giving the pup anything but dog food proper untill she starts eating it… my partnetr and I have adopted 2 dogs over the past few years a 1 1/2 old Bichon and then a 14 year old Maltese, both ate a very minimal amount for about a week. i would say the most important thing you can do its start a consistant routine, and she will know when its time to eat etc…I do think that if you give her anything but dog food she will develop a taste for that and continue to snub the dog food….. however even this moring my Bichon Mika decided he would rather be out n the yard than eat his food, and he know he eats between 630 and 7am if he doesnt start eating before the Faith and Alex are done eating, he doesnt eat till dinner….As far as the going after the cat or growling at people or animal. make her know that it is unacceptable behavior when she does it put her in her crate… for a 15 min time out don’t yell at her , just put her in her crate each and everytime she will eventually make the correlation that it is not ok behaviour even if you just let her out and she does it immediately again, put her back in…
    dogs are so much smarter than people give them credit for and can learn quickly consistancey is key

    • I should have another blog about animal training! I agree with Jonathan that constancy is essential and also that letting her know that growling isn’t acceptable. Don’t hug and comfort when she is resource guarding. However, training will be more effective and faster is you also reward her for the right behavior. Reward her when she is calm and welcoming to cats and people. Don’t expect that her comfort zone will be nose to nose at first. It might be just seeing the cat in another room. A long time out isn’t necessary. Simply removing her from the lap should do it. Anyway, let’s get back onto the topic of chickens, here! :)

  7. As long as you find them, you still have something that is the envy of us city folks.

  8. hahaha so what to do about the hens laying under the roosting bar?!?!?!?!

  9. All of mine run back to the coop at the very last minute to lay their eggs when they are free ranging. Once one didn’t make it inside and we found her egg in the run. Very busy indeed. There are many worms to be found out in the big wide world. :)