2hens sleeping in the nesting boxes/not laying eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pjreviea, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. pjreviea

    pjreviea New Egg

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    Aug 25, 2013
    We have nine chickens, they are 2years old. We were given them two weeks ago. Two are sleeping in the boxes at night. These are the only two that have not laid any eggs since we got them. Could this be the reason they are not laying. I tried to push them out last night but it would not move.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    When I first saw your title for this thread I thought it would be easy. They are broody. Now I’m not as sure. I still think it is the most logical explanation.

    When did they first start sleeping in the nests, the first night you had them or later? How do they act during the day? Do they spend most of the daytime on the nest with a break or two during the day to eat, drink, and go poo or are they mostly off the nests. When they are off the nest do they walk around with their feathers fluffed up and making a constant puck, puck, puck sound? Broodies will usually defend their nest, growling at you if you stick your hand in there and often pecking you, but I’ve had hens just laying eggs d that too so it’s not a sure sign. How do they act when you physically take them off the nest? If you do that to a hen just on the nest she’ll usually squawk and run way but a broody often just sits there a little bit getting her act together before she moves. Then she might immediately go back to the nest but will probably eat and drink some, maybe take a dust bath, before she goes back to the nest.

    In cold weather the broody breaks during the day are usually fairly short, maybe as short as 15 minutes. During the heat of the summer I’ve seen a broody take two breaks a day, each an hour long. Broody hens do not lay eggs. Also, do they poop in the nests? Broodies hold their poop until they are off the nest and then they let loose. It is normally a big stinking mess. A broody should not be fouling her nest and messing up her eggs.

    If your hens had been settled and then started sleeping in the nests I’d stop here. They are broody. But you complicate it a bit since you just moved them. I assume your roosts are higher than the nests and the others are roosting on them at night?

    When you relocate chickens, even if you keep the flock together, they often reset the pecking order. Usually with hens that know each other it’s not that violent but there is still some pecking and intimidation going on. The place I find mine most brutal when I integrate is in the roosts as they are settling in at night. I’ve had chickens that were used to sleeping on the roost abandon the roosts and seek a safer place to sleep to escape this brutality. That safer place just might be a nest box. This has happened to me several times when a broody hen weans her chicks and stops protecting them on the roosts. Another hen, usually pretty low in the pecking order, goes out of her way to be brutal to the chicks. I put in a separate roost lower than the main roosts, higher than the nests, and separated some horizontally to give them a safe place to go.

    If they are acting normal during the day and only spending the nights on the nest, this might be an explanation, especially if roost space is a little tight. You may need to add roost space, either the same height or a bit lower and separated, to give them a safer option. And now that they are in the habit of sleeping in the nests you might need to physically take them out each night after dark and set them on the roosts to retrain them. If you do this don’t worry about upsetting them or not making a commotion. You want them to think the nests are not a real safe place to sleep. But turn the lights out and make it dark enough they can’t see to go back to the nests when you are done.

    Them not laying could easily be explained by them being broody, but it could also be coincidence. This time of year they could be molting. The stress of relocating plus the days getting shorter may have started them on their molt and not affected the others.

    I still think them being broody is the most logical explanation, but they are living animals. Logic doesn’t always apply. Good luck!

    By the way, good choice on the title of your thread. It really helps to describe your problem a bit in the title to attract people that might be familiar with the problem.
     
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  3. pjreviea

    pjreviea New Egg

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    Aug 25, 2013
    Thanks for the info. They only stay in at night, they leave in the morning and spend their days out. The other six go in and out the rest of the day and lay eggs in the same boxes. there's plenty of roost space, but I can see how them getting used to a new home can change the dynamics. I will try to block off the boxes at night and see if this changes anything.
     
  4. pjreviea

    pjreviea New Egg

    7
    0
    7
    Aug 25, 2013
    Thanks for the info. They only stay in at night, they leave in the morning and spend their days out. The other six go in and out the rest of the day and lay eggs in the same boxes. there's plenty of roost space, but I can see how them getting used to a new home can change the dynamics. I will try to block off the boxes at night and see if this changes anything.
     

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