1. earlybird10842
    How to get a chicken to lay in the nestbox.

    The most common issue that I have had with my chickens is that somehow, some of them can't get it through those bitty chicken minds that nestboxes are for eggs. Lay an egg on the hard-packed, rocky dirt beneath a prickly-branched bush? Sure! Lay an egg on the grossly poopy area underneath the roost? Great! Lay an egg in the nestbox? Why, what an odd idea!

    I have had chickens for about three years now, and every year, some chicken or another gets the idea that the roost poop board or the great outdoors is better to lay in then the nestbox. Here's what I've found works to point the girls back toward the nestboxes.

    Our EE Margaret, who is quite notorious for laying in places she shouldn't, and our buff orp Marianne, who spent her pullethood laying eggs under a bush.



    Step one--Eggs in the nestboxes, not elsewhere.

    Make sure that there are eggs in the nestboxes all day. Remove eggs from the creative nesting spots your chooks have chosen, and place them into the nestboxes as soon as you can--the longer eggs are in the creative spot, the more likely another hen will get ideas. If necessary, keep fake eggs in the boxes. Sometimes just seeing eggs in the boxes is enough to convince the chickies that the nestboxes could be a good place to lay.


    Step two--Make the creative laying area difficult to lay in.

    If this is an area in the coop, remove the bedding from the area if possible, or thin it out. If it isn't in the coop, or the area needs bedding, put something big on top of the nest--rocks, plastic bottles, whatever can keep a hen from that area. I have an old shovel head I like to place on the nesting spot upside down, making it very difficult for a hen to sit on the nest, let alone lay an egg.
    You can see the shovel to the left side on top of the nestboxes in this pic. That is the chicken's roost in front of that board. We were getting some truly disgusting eggs.


    Step three--block access to creative nesting area

    If the chicken just ignores the lack of bedding or item you put on her nest, or if she just makes a new nest next to the old ones you put stuff on top of, you can block off the area. I had a problem for years with chickens laying eggs underneath the nestboxes, and I finally was able to solve it by simply placing a piece of scrap plywood up in front of it, blocking all access to it. I left this up for a while. Two months later it fell down on its own, but the chickens didn't even look under the nestboxes anymore.

    If the nesting area is outdoors and your chicken just won't get the picture

    Even after blocking off the area, your chicken may still find a new creative area to lay, especially if she is laying outdoors and is stubborn. I have found the solution to this is to stop outdoor access for a few days. If your chicken is laying in an area outside the run, confine her to the run for a while, if she is laying in the run, confine her to the coop. It took about a week indoors for my Marianne (my Buff orp, who laid under a bush for weeks) to understand that controversial concept--nestboxes are for eggs!

    Drastic measures

    I have moved a chicken from a creative nesting location to the nestbox while she is getting ready to lay a few times. If she jumps out and tries to go back, I put her back in. If she struggles, I don't fight it, just put her near the nestboxes and stand in her way of the creative nesting location. I wouldn't do this a lot, and it might stress out or harm the chicken if she is right in the middle of laying an egg. But if she is just starting to sit down on her creative spot, I have found that this will help them figure things out is they won't respond to step one or two.

    Hopefully, your chickens find your nesting boxes more desirable than my chooks fine mine to be, and you don't have to deal with this problem often.

    Elanor, my partridge rock, who has laid every egg of hers in the nestboxes. [​IMG]

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Recent User Reviews

  1. TwoCrows
    "Great tips!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 30, 2018
    Sometimes you just have to out think a hen. This article gives you some tips on getting them to lay where you want them.
  2. Kota Mitera
    "Great advice!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Nov 22, 2018
    Thank you. My only previous experience was with an established flock we were given and they came to us with their coop. They knew what to do and I knew nothing.
  3. ronott1
    "Good Article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 1, 2018
    Helpful Article


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  1. JesusHChicken
    A couple of my girls like to lay in my shed so I put pet carriers and bedding down. Sometimes it's easier to work with them than against.
      Dawnclucks22 likes this.
  3. Little Fuzzy
    I have to leave some eggs in the nest or they go elsewhere.
  4. FlyWheel
    OK, What if you're trying to get them to lay in a roll-away rather than the coop floor*? Since it is a roll-away, #1 is obviously out, and blocking off or removing the bedding from the coop floor is not really a great option either (they'd probably lay on a bare floor anyway, I've seen them do it).

    Any other suggestions?

    *Their roll-away is in the same spot as their old nesting boxes, and they would use them OK.
  5. Newchickenwoman
    I know this is an old thread but I'm new so ... Anyway, all four of my girls are laying under the roost so their otherwise lovely eggs are getting dirty. They did lay one or two eggs in the nest boxes in the beginning but obviously decided they were making things too easy for me! Having read about this, I can't see that there's anything wrong with the nest boxes; they're clean, have loads of nice bedding in them, are private, etc., etc., etc. Perhaps my girls are a bit dim? I will try some fake eggs and see what happens.
      Jnkmoultonr1 likes this.
    1. Newchickenwoman
      Well, here we are - four months on, and my girls are finally getting the message. This morning we had three (out of four) eggs in the nest box and one very close to it. However, they've now developed an identity crisis and think they're ducks - they're laying the most enormous eggs I've ever seen!
    2. schmapes
      So, did it take much effort on your part? Or did the fake eggs work? I just had my first of six pullets lay her first egg today right in the middle of the yard.
  6. flewdcoop
    I had a problem my 2 OEGBs one of them would lay anywhere in the coop and run, so I bought white golf balls and put 2 in each nest. It worked like a charm the one hen lays in her favorite nest box the other went broody and now trying to hatch out 5 fertile eggs and two golf balls. I hope they are not all cockerels LOL!
      Jnkmoultonr1 likes this.
  7. toniglitz
    I have 10 POL hens, 6 are fine & laying in the nest boxes, but one hen , goes into the hen house & stays on a perch to lay her egg, This results in the egg being damaged, I have tried to find which hen it is but I miss her doing it. this has happened twice now. Any advice please on how to stop this. From toni
      Jnkmoultonr1 likes this.
  8. 273816
    Thanks for all the help! I'm getting ready for my beautiful red sex link Beatrice to start laying any day now and will use these tips.
    From, Rachel.
      Jnkmoultonr1 likes this.
  9. Chicks Galore3
    Very well done! I only have 1 chicken who continually lays where she isn't suposed to. :)

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