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What is wrong with my nesting boxes??

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi,

So my hens have only been laying for about six weeks and they have yet to use their nesting boxes.  I put golfballs in them, I put shavings in them (same as the floor, where they DO lay their eggs) and I designed them based on measurements I found online.  They can defining get INTO them, but they only get in there to kick out the bedding.  These are pictures of what they looked like shortly after I re-filled them (immediately after spotting them filled, one of my hens hopped in and frantically started kicking it all out).

They are about 12 X 12 X 12... there's probably a two inch lip at the front (attempt to keep the shavings in).  It would be pretty **** awesome if they would use these things because then we could access the eggs without getting into the coop.  

 

I've been noticing how the chickens lay their eggs on the floor and seem to like digging out a little bowl in the bedding (we use the deep litter)... this makes me wonder if they would start laying in the boxes if I could somehow drop out the bottoms and make it deeper, like a bowl.  Is this likely to help?  My husband suggests that maybe he could make the boxes deeper by cutting out the floor of the boxes and attaching plastic type tubs (?).  

 

I've read on here that folks sometimes block the areas where a chicken is laying in an unintended place, but my chickens are laying in sort of three different areas of the coop floor, I'm not sure how I could block them all... They can definitely get INSIDE the boxes, as I saw the one chicken spend about ten minutes in there today, frantically scratching at and kicking out the bedding (!!).

 

thanks in advance for any ideas!

Elizabeth

post #2 of 8

I'd make the front lip much higher so it will hold more shavings. Maybe they're in there trying to make a depression for laying and the lip won't hold the shavings they're kicking about so they give up. If it is an elevated nest, they also appreciate a perch in front of the nest so they can look in before they enter.

I know 12X12X12 is standard but I make mine about 18" high or more.


Edited by ChickenCanoe - 11/1/15 at 10:55am

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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post #3 of 8

I'd put a higher lip across the front. You may need to cut the roof back a bit so they can still access the box, if you make say a 6 inch lip across the front I'm not sure they'd still fit. 

 

Mine always like the deeper bedding in a nest box. Like you said, they love the deep litter to lay in, so I try to mimic that in my nest boxes. Plus, more cushion means less broken eggs when you get that clumsy hen :/

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hmm.  I'm not sure the roof of the nesting boxes can be cut back... that's why I was thinking if I made them deeper out of the bottom, it would meet the desire for deeper bedding to dig around...

 

The perch in front is something we could definitely add, but the boxes aren't very high (only six inches off the floor)...

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChickenCanoe View Post

I'd make the front lip much higher so it will hold more shavings. Maybe they're in there trying to make a depression for laying and the lip won't hold the shavings they're kicking about so they give up. If it is an elevated nest, they also appreciate a perch in front of the nest so they can look in before they enter.
I know 12X12X12 is standard but I make mine about 18" high or more.
X2
How long have your birds been laying? Are you aver to using something other than shavings in the nests? Sometimes the novelty of something different is a strong attractant to them and my girls show a preference to nesting in a gray base over shavings alone (I have hay over shavings so the shavings give cushion and the hay let's them nest). Have you"baited"the nests with wooden eggs or golf balls? Seeing that someone else laid eggs in a nest encourages others to follow suit.
Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #6 of 8
At 6” of the floor you don’t need a perch. That pullet had no trouble getting in there to scratch the bedding out, did she? I put a perch on a nest about 2’ off the floor, not across the front but sticking out at 90 degrees from the front. Some of mine use it but most just hop straight in the nest, ignoring the perch.

You need a higher lip on that to keep the pullets from scratching out bedding, fake eggs, and even real eggs should you be so lucky to get a hen to lay in there. I’ve had full sized hens use an opening 6” high to access a nest, but I’ll admit I prefer an 8” high opening. Why did I try a 6” opening? I was in your situation and had to raise the lip. That’s all the room I had. Looking at it, you should have a fair amount of room to play with.

You can drop the nest bottom if you wish. There are often different ways to solve a problem.

Your biggest problem is that they are creatures of habit and are used to laying in those other nests on the floor. They can be pretty stubborn about change sometimes once they are in a habit. I’ve tried blocking off nests on the floor when mine lay there. Doesn’t work, they just lay next to what I put there.

There are a couple of different strategies you can try to get them to move nests. You can try putting a moveable nest where they are laying and get them to use it. Don’t try to block it off, give them something to lay in. A cardboard box with bedding and a fake egg in it can work. After they have started laying in that nest, gradually slowly move it to where you want then to lay, just a few inches every couple of days. Once you get that temporary nest where your real nests are, remove the temporary nest and see if you get lucky when they decide where to lay. I haven’t tried this one myself but some people have said it worked for them.

I built a door on some of my nests so I can lock a chicken in there if I wish. That flexibility has come in handy a few times, not just for teaching a hen where to lay. When I catch a hen on her nest on the floor getting ready to lay, I lock her in that real nest until she lays the egg. That usually takes a half hour but I’ve had some take a full three hours. Most of the time I only have to do that once to get her to switch nests, but there have been times it’s taken two.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 


I have definitely put fake eggs in there, I also experimented with putting straw in there at first.  They have been laying for about six weeks...

 

It's weird, they really are laying in three or four different spots, it's almost like they are laying them in random places in the coop, they aren't attempting to hide them or tuck them in corners or anything like that, they just do not lay them in the boxes.  I have also noticed that often they dig so far down in the bedding that they end up laying an egg directly on the hard floor.  That makes me think that even kicking all the bedding out shouldn't discourage them from using the boxes, they don't seem to care if that egg is landing on a big pile of bedding or not... 

post #8 of 8

I actually have the same thing going on. I have one building with just a bucket nest the hens use. The pullets that just started laying are placing them randomly all over the building. I put a plastic nest pad in the corner with a snow shovel in front of it. Today 2 pullets laid there, one in the bucket and two more in random places in the middle of the floor.

 

As for the nesting material. I used to use long dried grass similar to hay, then shavings, then straw, then excelsior nest pads, then shavings and now mostly plastic nest pads.

The plastic can be cleaned over and over if an egg gets broken or someone takes a dump in there. Most of the hens liked the excelsior as did I unless an egg broke in there. The pads are thick so if that happens you can take enough of the material out to make a clean nest.

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply
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