‘problem’ with a hen sleeping in nest box.

BDutch

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May 19, 2015
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I have a pullet who is 8 months now. Grown up, but lowest in the pecking order.

She was hatched in april together with 4 brothers who all went elsewere. In summer 2 cockerels and 1 pullet where sleeping on the roosts. The 1 pullet and 1 cockerel where sleeping on a roost in a small coop. This small coop is in open connection to another bigger coop where all the others chickens are sleeping. In the small coop there are also 2 nest boxes.

After someone picked up the 2 cockerels this 1 pullet still wanted to sleep in the small coop but one of the young hens started to sleep there too and showed she was higher in the pecking order. Quit mean. Every evening there was trouble.

The young pullet (Janice) wasn't allowed to sleep on ’her’ roost anymore. She started to sleep in one of the nest boxes. The trouble got less severe after a few weeks.
But I don't like this nestbox sleeping because I get dirty eggs this way.

Janice is a mix breed. Both parents are not of a breed that liked to sleep in nest boxes like silkies.

After the troubles stopped the young hen (Tel) and Janice are often together when free ranging.
I tried to change Janices habit to sleep in the nest box. I have been trying several things to keep her out of the nest box. But nothings seems to work out.

For many weeks I put Janice up the roost with the young hen (after nightfall) But there was no improvement.

Now I close the small coop before dark and open it again after nightfall. The young hen has found her place in between the other hens. But Janice is not allowed/willing to sleep on a roost with the others. She tries to sleep in the poop under the roosts. So now I get her out of the poop and put her between all the other hens on a roost with a lot of noise and disturbance.

I am not confident that this last attempt will help. What else can I do?

I read this topic in hope for an answer:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/is-roost-training-necessary-a-probably-not.1323599

Should I respect her choice to sleep in some kind of a nest?

Is it possible she is traumatized because her brother who protected her was given away and got bullied by the older hen?
 

Shadrach

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Jul 31, 2018
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Is it possible she is traumatized because her brother who protected her was given away and got bullied by the older hen?
Yes, it's quite common I believe. Chickens do form bonds and for cockerels and pullets struggling to find their position in a hierarchy a bit of back up is important.

What to do about it now?
Someone here mentioned to me when discussing chicken behaviour that she doesn't get involved in chicken politics. One needs to be very sure what one does is the right thing for the chickens and it isn't apparent in many circumstances.
If this was me I would let her sleep where she feels safe. If that happens to be a nest box then I would attempt to keep it clean until things changed.
Dirty eggs are not really a problem unless you plan on a broody hen hatching them. After all, we don't eat the shells. I wipe any particularly dirty eggs set for eating and that's it.
It can be heartbreaking when you see one hen seemingly excluded from the roost. If you are confident that she gets enough to eat and drink and no blood is being drawn, then I would let time sort it out. It often does.:)
 

rosemarythyme

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Jul 3, 2016
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Have you tried putting a divider on the roost so the others can't pick on her even if she's next to them? I've seen people use everything from cardboard to recycled feed bags to make curtains/walls.

I currently have a hen sleeping in the nest box but her issue is health related, so I've been putting her in a cage on the coop floor at night, just to keep her out of the nest box and prevent her from wandering around and pooping everywhere at night.
 

Perris

Still learning
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Jan 28, 2018
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If you can pooh pick the nest in the morning when you open up the coop, it could solve the dirty eggs issue and let Janice sleep where she feels safe.
I have a young cock who sleeps in a nest box, tail out, to avoid hen-pecking from his seniors; it's a solution he found and it works. It will change in time. Shad's advice not to interfere in chicken politics is good advice (unless blood is drawn).
 

BDutch

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May 19, 2015
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Yes, it's quite common I believe. Chickens do form bonds and for cockerels and pullets struggling to find their position in a hierarchy a bit of back up is important.

What to do about it now?
Someone here mentioned to me when discussing chicken behaviour that she doesn't get involved in chicken politics. One needs to be very sure what one does is the right thing for the chickens and it isn't apparent in many circumstances.
If this was me I would let her sleep where she feels safe. If that happens to be a nest box then I would attempt to keep it clean until things changed.
Dirty eggs are not really a problem unless you plan on a broody hen hatching them. After all, we don't eat the shells. I wipe any particularly dirty eggs set for eating and that's it.
It can be heartbreaking when you see one hen seemingly excluded from the roost. If you are confident that she gets enough to eat and drink and no blood is being drawn, then I would let time sort it out. It often does.:)
Thanks for the reply.
I am confident she gets enough to eat. During the day there are no problems, she is low in rank but one of the group. There was no blood ever. She backs up easily.

The problem that Janice was chased away, occurred when her brother left. At first she wasn’t allowed in the coop at all until it got quit dark and the other hens were sleepy.
After a few weeks she just waited to go in the coop until the others took their place. I suppose she wasn't allowed to sleep on the roost and now she doesn't try anymore.
 

BDutch

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May 19, 2015
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Have you tried putting a divider on the roost so the others can't pick on her even if she's next to them? I've seen people use everything from cardboard to recycled feed bags to make curtains/walls.

I currently have a hen sleeping in the nest box but her issue is health related, so I've been putting her in a cage on the coop floor at night, just to keep her out of the nest box and prevent her from wandering around and pooping everywhere at night.
No, I haven’t tried a divider. I did make another roost on another spot. But none of the chickens like to roost there.

I can make a divider in the small coop. Hope this will work. Thanks for the idea.
 

Oolala

Songster
Jun 29, 2017
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I have a pullet who is 8 months now. Grown up, but lowest in the pecking order.

She was hatched in april together with 4 brothers who all went elsewere. In summer 2 cockerels and 1 pullet where sleeping on the roosts. The 1 pullet and 1 cockerel where sleeping on a roost in a small coop. This small coop is in open connection to another bigger coop where all the others chickens are sleeping. In the small coop there are also 2 nest boxes.

After someone picked up the 2 cockerels this 1 pullet still wanted to sleep in the small coop but one of the young hens started to sleep there too and showed she was higher in the pecking order. Quit mean. Every evening there was trouble.

The young pullet (Janice) wasn't allowed to sleep on ’her’ roost anymore. She started to sleep in one of the nest boxes. The trouble got less severe after a few weeks.
But I don't like this nestbox sleeping because I get dirty eggs this way.

Janice is a mix breed. Both parents are not of a breed that liked to sleep in nest boxes like silkies.

After the troubles stopped the young hen (Tel) and Janice are often together when free ranging.
I tried to change Janices habit to sleep in the nest box. I have been trying several things to keep her out of the nest box. But nothings seems to work out.

For many weeks I put Janice up the roost with the young hen (after nightfall) But there was no improvement.

Now I close the small coop before dark and open it again after nightfall. The young hen has found her place in between the other hens. But Janice is not allowed/willing to sleep on a roost with the others. She tries to sleep in the poop under the roosts. So now I get her out of the poop and put her between all the other hens on a roost with a lot of noise and disturbance.

I am not confident that this last attempt will help. What else can I do?

I read this topic in hope for an answer:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/is-roost-training-necessary-a-probably-not.1323599

Should I respect her choice to sleep in some kind of a nest?

Is it possible she is traumatized because her brother who protected her was given away and got bullied by the older hen?
I had a young Rhode Island red that always slept in the nest box, she was new to the group with another chicken but she was in the lowest pecking order and was bullied by the others. I used to put her with the others after night fall for ages but she always went to the nesting box if she could until Rosie, another Rhodi died then she just took her place naturally and snuggled dowm with the others at night, they just do their own thing, in their time.
 

BDutch

Songster
May 19, 2015
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227
the Netherlands
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If you can pooh pick the nest in the morning when you open up the coop, it could solve the dirty eggs issue and let Janice sleep where she feels safe.
I have a young cock who sleeps in a nest box, tail out, to avoid hen-pecking from his seniors; it's a solution he found and it works. It will change in time. Shad's advice not to interfere in chicken politics is good advice (unless blood is drawn).
Okay. I didn't like her pooping in the nest box and was determined to change her habit. But I did ask what to do because it made no sense anymore. Probably Shad and you are right to leave the politics to the flock in this case.

I make the roost divider. Make a low roost at the entrance of the nest box she prefers and let her be (no more interfering after roost time).

I don’t agree with leaving the hens to decide in general though. If I hadn't interfered at all I would have 3 hens sleeping outside the run every night. For as long as they lived anyway.

I learned from this that it is possible to break habits I don’t like. But this was more important because I am sure the coop is a lot safer then sleeping in a tree or on top of the run.
 

BDutch

Songster
May 19, 2015
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the Netherlands
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I had a young Rhode Island red that always slept in the nest box, she was new to the group with another chicken but she was in the lowest pecking order and was bullied by the others. I used to put her with the others after night fall for ages but she always went to the nesting box if she could until Rosie, another Rhodi died then she just took her place naturally and snuggled dowm with the others at night, they just do their own thing, in their time.
Thanks for sharing.
I have already decided to grant Janice her favorite nestbox for as long as she needs to. And put the fake eggs in the other nestbox. Hope the ladies are smart enough to use the second nestbox for laying eggs. :p
 

aart

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How long is this roost she's not allowed to sleep on....and how many other birds are there(sorry if I missed this)?

Wondering how big the 2 connected coops are and can they be joined into one larger space. Pics of coops and roosts would help immensely as your coop page goes to one pic of a rather small enclosure.

Multiple roosts in a coop are of great help when integrating.
I just block the nests before roost time then uncover after dark when locking up.
Made that easy to do by rigging a hinged cover.
 
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