It may be that my hens have either drastically slowed down their laying, or else they've taken to laying outside of their boxes. I know how to retrain them if I need to, but what I'd like to do first is to coop them for the minimum amount of time necessary to get a reliable baseline for how many hens are currently laying.
How long is the minimum time necessary to establish that baseline? I had them cooped for about 36 hours and only got 1 egg from 9 hens in that time, but I'm pretty sure that 36 hours is probably too short for a reliable sample.
I have about 1/2 of my hens who refuse to roost and prefer to sleep on top of the nest boxes (and poop on them all night too). This half represents the younger chickens that were introduced a couple of months back. I'm afraid that all the poop ON TOP of the boxes is discouraging the hens from laying IN them during the day. Is this a possibility?
How do I train these hens to roost rather than sleeping ON TOP of the nest boxes?