Our old flock of chickens simply would not use these nest boxes, and I am not entirely certain why. They almost all laid their eggs in a communal nest on the floor (Every once in awhile we would get an egg or two in the boxes, but quite rarely), and egg eating became a huge problem. I would love any ideas on things I can do to improve the nest boxes for our new flock of chickens, so hopefully we can avoid this problem in the future.
Or (sigh) if we just need new nest boxes.
Old flock- 14 hens, decreasing down to 10 hens, laying for about 2.5 years. Mostly various Orpingtons, also a few Barnevelders
New flock- Probably 14 or 15 hens (still waiting to see for sure how many are roosters). 9 or 10 are Barnevelders, 5 are Buckeye
The coop is approximately 13 feet x 19 feet with an outdoor run they are allowed to weather permitting - so the chickens aren't crowded in there, but when they spend a lot of time indoors they get cranky (who doesn't?)
The Nest Boxes
These are a rollout design (which is not at all important to me, just happens to be the nest boxes that were in the back of the shed). I tried to keep straw in them, thinking the wire bottoms might be uncomfortable to the chickens, but it was hard because the straw falls through the wire and it didn't really seem to help anyways. Some of the nest boxes have canvas flaps, some don't, because I didn't know if the birds would like those or not. Usually the eggs (when they were laid in the boxes, which was rare) were in a box with a flap.
Interior dimensions: 10.75 in wide x 13 in deep x 9 in tall
Entrance dimensions: 10.5 in wide x 6 in tall
Dimensions seem a little small, but not so small to have so few birds using them. One of our biggest Orpingtons would squish herself in there to lay, as well as one of the smaller Orpingtons would go in to check them out (but not actually lay an egg in there)
I think there are 10 boxes total, so 1 box per bird or 1.5 birds... definitely plenty of choices!
They are mounted fairly close to the floor
We tried putting golf balls in as fake eggs, those only ever fooled us and never the birds.
Some ideas to improve nest box usage that I have are to take off the flaps because that rod the flaps are suspended from really decreases the space to get into the box
Also, putting nest pads, or maybe just tar paper + straw, so there is a solid bottom
Any other advice is welcome. Think we can fix these up so the new hens like them? Or do we need something new and more roomy?