My hens had to be locked up in June due to the local raccoons deciding my area was their personal all-they-could-eat buffet. Egg production dropped significantly. I was barely getting an egg every third day from 20 hens.
I hate having them locked up. They hate it, too, and they pace the run like prisoners hoping for a jail break. I recently started letting my girls out again each afternoon from 3pm until they go back into the coop themselves at dusk to see how it would affect egg production.
It’s working! They laid a dozen eggs in ONE DAY! Sixteen eggs were in the nest boxes over the next three days. I can’t pinpoint what it is that makes them lay more eggs just because they’re getting out of the run (they have a very large run that’s about 70′ long). All I know is that letting them free range, even just a few hours daily, ups egg production!
Free ranging seems to affect egg size, too!
I’m happy, and the girls are definitely happy!