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how to break this habit

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have 15  8 week old chicks in one tractor and 2 hens in another.  the baby tractor is not set up for nest boxes, only roosting space.  My hens have now decided they want to lay their eggs in the baby coop, nestling down into the bedding--among the poop from above.  Any ideas on how to break this habit?  It's funny--I go out and open both tractors early in the morning and a couple hours later will see a hen herding the babies into the hens tractor and one hen heading into the baby space.  Shortly, they trade places until both have laid and egg and the babies have been kept away.  Cute, but messy eggs.  The usual nest boxes are clean, dry, bug-free, fresh nesting material and are private. I don't really want to create a poop board to cover the spot in the baby coop, but can do it if I have to.

post #2 of 4
Your hens have decided that the chicks home is a safer better place to lay eggs, I would personally examine both a try to determine what is more appealing about it because they obviously don't like their home, on the plus side you don't seem to have any troubles with integration, it is also possible that the presence of the chicks means to the hens that that is a safe place because someone hatched chicks there, I would also recommend fake eggs or golf balls in the nestboxes to make them seem safe.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 4

Do the babies have a broody Mama?  I can't quite figure it out from your post.  I assume that you free range your flock every day?  Do they sleep in the coop?   If the babies don't have a broody Mama, the solution would be super simple:  make the baby tractor door opening small enough so only the babies could get in.  But, if there's a broody Mama, you've got a harder issue to solve.  Will the tractors be put up for the winter, or is this a permanent situation?  You may just have to live with the situation unless you can coop the layers for a few days to re-train them to the nest boxes in the coop. 

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

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Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

The babies do not have a broody mama, I've had them since they were several days old and used the mama heating pad.  The hens have been in their tractor for several years with no issue.  Once the chicks were big enough to be safe free ranging, I've let them all be out together.  No issues, the hens would actually herd them into the adult tractor or under cover away from hawks, etc.  I had one night over a week ago that it was pouring down rain and several of the babies got up on the roost with the big girls and, after counting heads, I just closed them up there for the night.  They were all fine.  Then I went several days with no eggs--until I found a clutch in the babies tractor.  I clean both tractors every week and put down fresh bedding, but the hens don't need bedding all over  because they roost for the night and only go back in to lay.  So, the nest boxes got fresh bedding.  The babies actually had lots of bedding to absorb the poops.  I can't see anything making them feel safe/unsafe in one over the other--I think they are establishing their claim over ALL the space.  This weekend, I plan to remove the bedding and clean as usual (and I move the tractor one length forward) and then I won't put new bedding for the chicks, only for the nests. If that doesn't do the trick, then I'll have to make a poop board for over where they are laying eggs.  I don't really care either way where they lay but I'll have to keep the nest clean of poops from above.  I don't want to make an opening to keep the hens out because the chicks go in and out of the adult house and, besides, the chicks at 8 weeks old are almost as big as the hens (most of them, anyway).

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