All 3 hens sleeping in the nest box - UPDATE with new problem (pg 2)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chad76, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. chad76

    chad76 Out Of The Brooder

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    I've had my 3 hens for all of 10 days (they're between 4 and 5 months old). For the first week, I think they all slept on the lower perch, which is closer to the window. There were times when one would venture to the far perch that the nest is attached to. And the first night, one of them slept on the floor. But otherwise, they've done as expected... until the night before last.

    Yesterday morning, I opened their door and looked in and saw no feet. (I can usually see 3 sets of legs when I open their door/ramp.) I wasn't sure how they were arranged. So, last night, when I went outside to lock them up, I shined a light into the coop and noticed ALL three were crammed in the nest box! Two were perched on the little lip I added to hold in the hay/eggs (you can see it in the 2nd photo) and the other one was either perched on rear opening or sitting in the nest (I couldn't really see her). It wouldn't be that big of an issue, but they're filling the nest with poop!

    Other details: It has been colder than normal lately (in the 40's), so I've had the window closed for the last few nights to keep them warm. None of them are laying yet, but I did put a couple golf balls in the nest to hopefully give them the idea that's where they should lay since I'm expecting one to start any day now.

    My guess is that they're cold and huddling up together to stay warm. But is it possible that one of them thinks they need to sit on the "eggs" at night (she doesn't do it during the day) and the others are just following her over there? Any idea how to make them stop sleeping there? Should I just remove the nest for a while to break the habit? Any suggestions?

    Here are a couple of photos that show the perches and nest:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Thanks!
    Chad
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2008
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Cold quite possibly has something to do with it. But you are also sort of inviting it by having the nest box as high as (really, a little higher than) the roost. Hens prefer to sleep on the highest location available.

    I would suggest that the easiest solution would be as follows. Remove the nest box, letting them have the entire length of the top roost to use (which is where they're all likely to *want* to be anyhow, and there doesn't look to be a whole lotta room up there for 4 hens). Then reposition that upper roost a bit higher (see below for why) and remove the lower roost entirely. Rebuild your nest box with a roof, and position it underneath the upper roost. Yes the roof will get pooed on, but that is actually a *feature* not a problem -- it will function as a partial droppings-board so you can quick scrape the poo off into a bucket or dustpan every day or two and thus the whole coop stays cleaner.

    If that is too radical, or there is not room for it, then consider moving your feeder over a bit and reposition the nestbox underneath the window shown at the R side.

    Otherwise I expect you will have a continual pooey nestbox [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  3. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Overrun With Chickens

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    Most chickens naturally roost at the highest place possible. Your nest box is it.

    Remove the nest box. When you put it in again it should be lower then the top perch.

    Matt
     
  4. chad76

    chad76 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the replies! I wish I had known that... I guess I missed that detail when I was planning my coop. [​IMG]

    The main problem is... there is an opening behind the nest so I can reach through from the outside to retrieve the eggs (it's the window on the right in this photo). So, this is going to be a little more complicated.

    [​IMG]

    I guess I either need to figure out how to add an even higher perch (might be the easiest solution) or make a new egg window. The existing egg access could be converted to a second vent window (just flip the hinges/latch and add hardware cloth), but I'll have to get creative on where to relocate the nest and still be able to access it from outside.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  5. chad76

    chad76 Out Of The Brooder

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    I missed that last thing you said, Pat. Worse case, I could just put the nest under the existing window (move the feeders) and just have to open the big door to look for eggs. That wouldn't cost me anything or take much time to do.

    I'm wondering though... if I can figure out a way to run a perch going the opposite way of the existing 2 perches and make use of the extra space up top... and just shield the nest so poop doesn't land in it. That will work as long as all of them get on the top roost... or else they'll poop on each other. I'll think on that for a while.
     
  6. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Put one or two roosts up at the very top, even above the nestbox and that should fix your problem. It may not be the most spacious, but neither is three hens in a nest. That's what I would do, is right where the roof and the walls meet on the inside, is glue(or nail/screw if you can get your tools in there) a roost or two. You may need to cover your nest box if you do this, so their droppings won't land where your eggs are laid.

    I think that is what you were talking about in your last post. It should't matter if the roosts run opposite directions. Mine run every which way.

    -Kim
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  7. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chad does the floor come out of your coop? I saw a hardware handle and was curious, it looks like a great lil' coop.

    -Kim
     
  8. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OR! I was looking at your coop and came up with another option. You could move the nestbox to the other window(so you can still reach in) and just move the back perches up, so they are higher than the box. Then just convert the other window into the vent.

    -Kim
     
  9. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    I had the same problem for awhile with mine; I ended up putting a cardboard box in each nest box at night time (and removing them each morning) - it took a few weeks, but they finally stopped sleeping in the nest boxes. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  10. chad76

    chad76 Out Of The Brooder

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    Lots of great ideas!

    Wynette,
    A slanted top cardboard box in the nest will definitely keep them out of it at night... but will it make it more difficult for them to learn to go there when they're ready to lay?

    Kim,
    I think that sounds like the easiest thing to do... adding a roost or two up higher. The roost closer to the front of the photo is removable (held by bolts with wing nuts), but the other roost (the one the nest it attached to) is held in with screws and may be a challenge to move. I think there's plenty of room in the center if the roost runs the opposite direction. Then I'll just have to add a poo deflector. [​IMG] I'll have to make sure they can get up there easy enough though since it's pretty cramped as it is... maybe some sort of ramp. But this still sounds like the easiest option other than forcing them out with a box.

    OR... I could add a ramp up to the back roost/nest and raise the front roost up as high as it will go. How high can I go safely... so they don't get hurt jumping down?

    The floor does slide out. Here's a photo of it sticking out. I attached some scrap vinyl (that used to be my bathroom floor) to make it easy to clean. Thank you!
    [​IMG]
     

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