Any reason i shouldn't let them sleep in an unused nest box?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by babsh, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. babsh

    babsh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2008
    Minnesota
    i have 10 hens/4 nest boxes. My birds are getting used to a new coop and just beginning to use a roost for the first time. Before that, they were in an ark and just piled together like kittens. Every night, i have been going out and removing birds from 3 of the nest boxes and placing them on the roost. They are getting good now, and no longer even try it anymore. The exception, is the fourth box which is always occupied by our 'lowest on the pecking order' hen. I have been letting her sleep there, because no one ever lays an egg in it (I have no bedding in it). It makes sense to me that this would be warmer, and she probably gets picked on on the roost. Plus, she allows the bantams to crawl under her. i just scrape out the poop every other day or so.

    So my question is- is there any reason i don't know about that i shouldn't let her sleep there?

    Barb
     
  2. 2468Chickensrgr8

    2468Chickensrgr8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2007
    Ontario
    Oh why not....along as she is up and about through the day...and she's happy ..but I would put some shavings/straw in the nest box to help you clean it out better and it'll help keep her warm...
     
  3. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Mine would actually be better off if they just roosted on the ground or in nest boxes. The bottom of the coop is filled with warm bedding and straw. Sitting up in the air on a roost will be much colder in a climate that gets to -20. The only real problem I see is they get dirty easier from sitting on the same bedding they poop in. Otherwise I'd leave them.
     
  4. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens poop a LOT at night while roosting. They can get pretty icky sleeping in a nest box. Cold, wet, blobs of poo stuck to the feathers. Maybe you could make a special low perch for her and the banties. You could put sides and a top over it, if you want, to help them stay warmer.

    Feathers are great insulation. Think of down jackets and comforters. But you're right, -20(C or F?) is awfully cold. I've thought about getting some of those reflective emergency blankets, (like they sell in sporting good departments with camping and hunting gear) and cutting pieces to glue inside a winter shelter for when my cats are outside, or inside the dog house. I don't see why something like that wouldn't work with chickens. I bet if you glued a sheet of it to the wall behind the roosts, and maybe another attached to the ceiling over the roosts, it would make it a lot warmer. It would reflect the chicken's body heat back to them, instead of it just dissipating. I used one of those things in my car when I got stranded in a blizzard, they work. That thin reflective plastic (basically strong cellophane-maybe mylar?) is amazing. They're cheap, it's worth a try!
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  5. babsh

    babsh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2008
    Minnesota
    Thanks for the feedback. I put some shavings in the box and will let them sleep there as long as they keep it egg-free. I checked on them tonight and my Sebrights are in it, which is good because they are the only ones i really worry about with the cold. The rest of my girls are all cold-hearty breeds.

    Barb
     
  6. Portia

    Portia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My teen chicks have taken to all sleeping in a pile in one of the nest boxes since the temps have plummeted; prior to the temp drop they were roosting with the big girls. I figure if it keeps them warm then I'm not going to shoo them out just yet. Of course now that I have a broody with new chicks there will be a brooder light on in the coop, so they may well be warm enough to move back to the roosts at night. They do poop a lot, I have straw in the boxes and just skim the top straw off in the morning & sprinkle on some DE, which keeps things dry.
     
  7. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Babsh and Portia, yeah, I'd rather have poopy boxes to clean than frozen birds! I glad it only gets sub-zero here a small part of the winter. It gets below freezing quite a bit, but not so much as to be a danger to my birds, except now and then. The brooder light should help a lot.

    Are your coops pretty solid, not a lot of cracks and drafts? My DH covered the inside walls of ours with oriented strand board, (a substitute for plywood, better than particle board) and we have glass from old windows that we put up in winter over the chicken-wire covered windows. That way there's sunlight inside, but it blocks the wind.
     
  8. Portia

    Portia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our coop is pretty solid, the windows have pieces of plywood that can be drawn across the wire, closing them completely without any drafts. The ceiling is clear plastic, not very insulated but the coop is beneath the deck and directly below the 104 degree hot tub. I have a remote temp for checking the coop temps/humidity from indoors & have noticed that on average the temp goes up 10 degrees when the chickens are all in to roost with the coop closed except for the air flow openings. If they're cold, they huddle together and seem to be fine. I'm not to worried about the adults, it the chicks that concern me a bit more...but I try not to intervene if I don't have to.
     

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