BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying › How To Get Hens To Lay Eggs in Nesting Boxes
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How To Get Hens To Lay Eggs in Nesting Boxes

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Our 23 hens are almost 4 months old.  We built 8 nesting boxes and put wood chips on the bottom.  We also built roosts for them to make it easier to get into the boxes.  None of the chickens have gone in there yet.  They did examine the new addition quite carefully when we put it up.  How does one teach hens what these boxes are for?

Also, we have a one-legged chicken that uses her wings to help her walk, but I've never seen her fly.  She came with the other leg deformed (at one day old from MacMurray).  She's also a slow developer, and is smaller than the rest.  Should we just assume she won't lay eggs?  How can we help her get into one of the lower nesting boxes?  Build a ramp (which I don't think she'd use)?

Thanks for your suggestions on both questions!

post #2 of 23

Wood chips are a bit rough, maybe pine shavings would be better.  4 months is still a bit young to be thinking about laying.  Do they roost near the nesting boxes at night? Can your one-legged hen hop? or walk at all?  I've always kind of assumed that chickens need two legs to "make" it.  It is nice of you to support your 1 legged hen

Kay

With Sarah (white rock) Adele (Barred rock),  Rosy Runs Fast and Ruby Runs Faster (BB red modern games) Priscilla (welsummer) Sammy (cat), oh and of course Lucas (15) and Katarina (10) Peter my SO, and a really big garden
Reply
With Sarah (white rock) Adele (Barred rock),  Rosy Runs Fast and Ruby Runs Faster (BB red modern games) Priscilla (welsummer) Sammy (cat), oh and of course Lucas (15) and Katarina (10) Peter my SO, and a really big garden
Reply
post #3 of 23

I agree - 4 months is a bit young for laying, yet.  Also agree that pine shavings or straw is better nest bedding than wood chips.  When your hens get really close to laying they will sometimes pick up pieces of straw (or whatever is in the nest) and toss it over their shoulder onto their backs.  This past week one of my hens began laying for her first time.  I've been waiting for over a month for her to lay.  And the day she stood in the nest and tossed straw over her back, I knew she would finally lay an egg, that day.  Yes, she did.  Also, they will begin squatting a couple weeks or so before they lay.  Have your 4 month olds started squatting yet?  My first hen laid at 20 weeks and the rest laid at 24 weeks, 28 weeks, and I'm still waiting on one who hasn't laid yet.

I used a couple golf balls in the nests.  When my first layer was getting close to laying her first egg, she got VERY interested in the golf balls -- rolling them around with her beak and sitting on them.  It's nice to use something like a fake egg or a golf ball to encourage them to use the nest.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info on wood chips.  I do have pine shavings, but perhaps straw would be the best.  What do you think?

Our one legged New Hampshire Red, whose name is Sweetie Pie, can hop.  Most of the time, she likes to stay in the coop, positioning her head under a branch I put in there.  She always has at least one buddy (either one of my RIR's or a black hen with some gold feathers at the neck) hanging out with her in the coop.  Every day, I carry her outside, so she can get some fresh grass clippings.  She either hops back to me to be picked up or she hops over to a pine tree and hangs out underneath it.  She always gets back into the coop by herself.  Today, I watched her hop over to some dirt and try to take a dust bath.  It was so cute, yet sad, to see her using her deformed leg to try and scratch some dirt on her, which wasn't working.  She did better when she switched sides, but still not great. 

It's interesting because when I called MacMurray and told them of all the deaths I'd experienced with the group of chicks I got in July (5 within the first 48 hours) and then told them about the one legged girl, they suggested that I should probably put Sweetie Pie out of her misery and they gave me a credit for her.  There was no way I was going to do that.  Although she slept alot as a small chick, she was feisty and didn't let anyone get in her way.  She's always been feisty.  How could I end her life?  Every day when I see her growing and getting more feathers, my heart just expands with love for her.  Oh dear, how did I get off on this topic when I really wanted to know how to get the chickens to lay eggs in the nesting boxes.  LOL!

Thanks for asking about her.

post #5 of 23

Placing golf balls in the nest really helped mine. We went from having an egg hunt everyday to lots of eggs in the nest! Now if they could just start laying again roll

Just a girl who loves her chickens
Reply
Just a girl who loves her chickens
Reply
post #6 of 23

Are they laying yet?
Instead of wood chips you could use some kind of hay grown in your area. Would likely be easier for them to scratch out a nest that is the same each time they lay.
Your nest boxes should be lower than your roosts. Ours are 3 level and the highest boxes are at 3 ft. Roosts start at 4 ft and above and are on the opposite side of the coops.

Better organic farming using technology
400+ RSL, BSL, RIR, BR, BA and growing
Farm fresh, free range eggs
Reply
Better organic farming using technology
400+ RSL, BSL, RIR, BR, BA and growing
Farm fresh, free range eggs
Reply
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

Big C, do you have a photo of your nesting boxes.  We positioned the roosts for the nesting boxes level with the bottom of the box, so they could hop onto the roost and then duck into the box.  Hope we didn't screw up too badly.

post #8 of 23

My girls are approx 24 weeks.  One of my red stars laid at 20 weeks, the other at 22 weeks.  I am still waiting for the EE's and Austalorp. 

I had hay in the nesting box because I had heard it was preferred by the girls.

NOT SO

My girls scratched the hay out of the nesting box into the DLM and when I went to clean the coop the hay had all clumped together and was damp.  The rest of my actual DLM was great.

No more hay for me.

Today I was working on the coop (for snow and cold) and I noticed that one of the girls had knocked one of the golf balls into the middle of the coop.  I made a mental note to fix it when I put the girls to bed.  By the time I put them to bed someone had knocked the golf ball back where it belonged.

So cute!

I am learning but I am really glad I learned not to do hay before winter.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Surprising woman:  Thanks for the hay info.  What do you use in your nesting boxes instead? (sorry if you already mentioned that in your posting).  What's a DLM? 

Thanks!

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

Feathersnuggles (cute name):  You asked if my 4-month olds had started squatting yet?  I know what squatting is for a human, but not sure what it means for a chicken?  Sorry.  Could you explain?

Thanks!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying
BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying › How To Get Hens To Lay Eggs in Nesting Boxes