I have this coop, a basic 1m square coop with two nest boxes attached: http://www.chickencoopsdirect.com/dorset-chicken-coop.htm
It opens into a large covered run.
Last sunday I adopted 5 ex-battery hens. Theyve been pretty quick learners; theyve learnt how to use the treadle feeder, to scratch, to go to bed at night, and today one of them used the dust bath for the first time, which was lovely to see.
I thought theyd also learnt to lay in the nest boxes; turns out theyve learnt to lay where they sleep. Oh. Bother!
The nest boxes are lined with dust-free straw, the coop is lined with aubiose and a little sprinkled zeolite.
For the last couple of days the girls have laid in the nest boxes, I was pleased about this til I saw two of them crammed in one at night - and the other three in the second box, one of them being used as a cushion by the others!
So I googled of course. Last night, three times I moved them out of the boxes into the coop. With the results that two returned to the boxes and laid there, and one laid where the other three slept in the coop.
The perches arent much higher than the nest boxes; then again these hens love playing on perches outdoors but dont perch at night. Im not fussed whether they perch or not, but I dont want them to poo in the nesting straw, nor lay in the aubiose!
Google also suggested putting an obstacle eg football in each nest box overnight, and hubby suggested making a baffle to block access which we can put in just before dark and remove when opening up the coop in the morning.
However, the hens lay overnight, between putting themselves to bed at dusk, and being let out at 6-7am. Also, although they are let out shortISHly after sun up, this will only get worse over summer as the sun comes up at 4am in high summer and we will still only be able to let them out at 6-7am each day. What if they want to lay before 7am, if we've put an obstacle to the nests?
So, despite googling we dont have a great solution... What do you guys suggest?