changing to new nest boxes & opening size

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 8littlechickens, May 28, 2010.

  1. 8littlechickens

    8littlechickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2010
    I'm looking for advice on how to switch my girls to laying in new nest boxes. When we first got chickens, my husband made up a couple nice nest boxes in the coop he set up. But, before they really started laying, we moved and ended up leaving the nest boxes etc. behind because the person who bought our old house said he thought he'd get some chickens. The house we moved to has a large dog kennel, with a large doghouse inside, and so not being able to make another proper coop (yet...), we put the girls in there and that's worked just fine. Only problem is that they - of course - decided that the far back corner of the doghouse would be a great place to lay their eggs, so we've had to use a small rake (or lately, since one of the girls went broody, I have to crawl in there to get them) to get the eggs. It turns out that the person who bought our old house decided not to get chickens, and so we were able to get our nest boxes back. They're now in the coop, but the girls want nothing to do with them (they've been in there three days). I've tried picking a couple up to try to put them in there and putting an egg in there for a bit, even showing it to the broody one, and nothing doing. How can we get them to make the switch?

    And a related question - how big should the openings be in the nest boxes? When I lifted a couple of the girls up to try to put them in, the openings seemed so small! I think my husband used a measurement he found here or in a book, and I know they like it enclosed, but I'm just wondering if maybe the openings are too small and that's a deterrant.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Chickens are creatures of habit. They do not like change or anything new. Since they are in the habit of laying in that corner, that is where they want to lay. You need to change their habits. Now the hard part. How?

    I had a couple that learned to lay on the floor. I managed to catch them in the act of laying and moved them to the nests and locked them in for about a half hour, until they had laid the egg. I had to do that once for one and twice for the other before they caught on. Your circumstances are different. My two that were laying in the floor were not laying in the floor together at the same time like yours are. The rest were laying in the nest boxes. They usually like to lay where the others are laying, so if you try moving some and the others are still laying in that corner, you might have a problem.

    That broody complicates it a bit too. You might try putting something in that corner to keep them from laying there so they have to change. I've seen that recommended but when I tried it, the hen just moved her nest over a bit and kept laying on the floor. I don't have any other suggestions, other than finishing that new coop you mentioned and move them to totally new surroundings. You did not mention which breeds of chickens and the size of the nest box openings, but I doubt that is the problem. I have full sized fowl and my current nest box openings are about 6" high and 9" wide.

    Good luck! This one may not be easy.
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I would keep a golf ball or wooden egg in the new (old) nest boxes, and give them time. My nest boxes are large, so the opening is probably 14 x 14. I would guess that it's more because they're new than the small opening as to why they're not using them though, unless the opening is just tiny.
     
  4. 8littlechickens

    8littlechickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2010
    We've got Golden Buffs, Barred Rocks, Buckeyes and one Welsummer. The openings are approx 7.5" - 8" high. (Not sure of width, but I'm sure the width is not an issue.)
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well...that does sound small to me; however since RR says his (or her) chickens do fine with a small nest box opening, then I'd still be inclined to think that it's the newishness of the boxes themselves. I hope they figure it out...try the golf balls (some even use plastic easter eggs, although I'd fill them with something to give them weight maybe).
     

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