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Discourage from sleeping in nest box. Help!

post #1 of 6
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How can I keep my girls from sleeping in their nest boxes? They roost on the sides of them and there's always so much poop in the boxes. They are 7 weeks old and I'd like to work on this right away so that when they start laying I won't end up with really dirty eggs. Any ideas on how to train them to sleep on their roosts?

post #2 of 6
Block them off until they are laying age smile.png They don't need access to them until they are ready to lay, and if they can't get to them, they'll learn to sleep on the roost instead. Try also raising the roosts up. It looks like you have one of the little pre-built coops, so you might have to get creative, but chickens like to sleep as high as they can. Get the roosts higher than the edge of the nesting boxes, and they'll prefer to sleep there. Maybe take out those pre-built roosts and put one long one in running the other way up high, and they'll want to sleep there.

Unfortunately those coops oftentimes are designed to look cute to us but are not built with practicality and real chickens in mind. They also often say they will hold far more birds than they really will. How many birds do you have? You'll probably find yourself upgrading to a different coop in the future - that's usually what happens, unfortunately.

Edit: In your avatar I see six chicks. If you kept all those, and that's the coop I think it is from Tractor Supply, it's going to be way too small for your girls. You may want to just build a new, properly sized coop and scrap the idea of using yours. Maybe put in on craigslist and build something better suited smile.png
Edited by Pyxis - 4/7/16 at 4:53pm
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Breeding Ayam Cemanis, Roman Tufted Geese, and Welsh Harlequin Ducks.

Vermonters, come join us in the Vermont thread!

Clearing Up Rooster Misinformation - Letting Broody Hens Hatch and Raise Chicks - Raising Dubia For Your Chickens
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post #3 of 6
The stuff in your coop is all the same height, they don't know where they are and aren't supposed to roost. You can raise the roosts higher but I don't think it will make a big difference. The nestboxes shouldn't be a part of the floor plan.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

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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
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post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxis View Post

Block them off until they are laying age smile.png They don't need access to them until they are ready to lay, and if they can't get to them, they'll learn to sleep on the roost instead. Try also raising the roosts up. It looks like you have one of the little pre-built coops, so you might have to get creative, but chickens like to sleep as high as they can. Get the roosts higher than the edge of the nesting boxes, and they'll prefer to sleep there. Maybe take out those pre-built roosts and put one long one in running the other way up high, and they'll want to sleep there.

Unfortunately those coops oftentimes are designed to look cute to us but are not built with practicality and real chickens in mind. They also often say they will hold far more birds than they really will. How many birds do you have? You'll probably find yourself upgrading to a different coop in the future - that's usually what happens, unfortunately.

Edit: In your avatar I see six chicks. If you kept all those, and that's the coop I think it is from Tractor Supply, it's going to be way too small for your girls. You may want to just build a new, properly sized coop and scrap the idea of using yours. Maybe put in on craigslist and build something better suited smile.png

This!  :goodpost:

 

Usually chicks at that age don't have the instinct to roost quite yet, their instinct is to cram themselves into a "safe" place and sleep in a pile.  Block off the nest boxes and they won't sleep in there.  Problem solved.  I think if you make the modifications suggested above, you'll be fine.

post #5 of 6

I have a couple of older hens who like to make a game of trying to outwit me so they can sleep in the nest boxes. Yes, the perches are higher than the nests, but if a chicken has it in her mind that's where she wants to sleep, she'll do anything to sleep there.

 

So I block the nests just before roosting time. A metal fencing scrap goes nicely across to nest boxes that happen to be side by side. But I have another set of three boxes that are stacked vertically. Blocking them is a challenge. I'm still in the process of trying to find something that will block the nests and discourage sleeping in them, but I haven't found anything that works just yet.

 

I also hang around until the chickens finish roosting, and I then fish the would-be nest sleeper out of a nest box and place her on a perch. Often, she only goes right back to the nest, but sometimes, she gets the message, and she will roost on the perch.

 

The important thing is to catch it early before it becomes an entrenched habit. Then physically remove the hen from the nest and place her on a perch. If you're consistent, you may be able to train her to go back to sleeping on a perch.

 

It's a game of attrition. It's a matter of who gets tired of the game first, you or the hen. But it's worth the effort if you don't want the hens laying eggs in a poopy nest.

post #6 of 6

Man! Chickens sure are smart and determined! I thought I had a hen-proof great barrier rigged across the triple-stacked nest boxes. Wire fencing blocked off the front and went over the top nest. But on the side, the stack being built into the corner of the coop, I only had a fencing scrap that went halfway up the middle box, thinking it was high enough this hen wouldn't try to jump over it.

 

Well, judging from the poop evidence, she had roosted on top of the fencing going over the top of the top nest box!

 

So, back to the drawing board.

 

Or I could just close down that coop and make them all go roost in the main coop. I may just do that since I would like the coop for some new chicks coming in June.

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