Chickens and egg nest building?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sweetbird, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. Sweetbird

    Sweetbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2015
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    I have only had chickens since October and by late November they stopped laying eggs. They are young and had just begun to lay eggs when I got them. I wised up about shorter days and learned here about the importance of their diet, so I added light to their house and besides the always available layer pellets, they get scratch in the morning and afternoons. Out of 17 hens, I was getting zero eggs per day but now after these changes, I get really no less than a dozen a day, usually more. These are free ranging chickens. I let them out in the morning whenever I wake up and secure them before sundown.

    I have one of those metal wall hanging nest box arrangements with 15 individual holes, but when I got it I had to cut wood to replace the bottom of the nest boxes and there are a few along the bottom row that don't have bottoms, so obviously they don't use those.

    My chickens seem to prefer higher nest boxes and like to use the same ones. It doesn't seem that they have any problem with laying eggs where other chickens have in their boxes.

    Here is the thing. Some chicken started laying eggs on the floor (I have deep litter hay and shavings) beneath the nesting box unit in the corner. I picked them up and blocked it, but my mother in law who had chicken experience told me that when the hen has enough eggs in that spot, she is probably going to go broody and hatch some chicks so I could leave it alone.

    Well, this has been going on for about two weeks now and there are now about twenty eggs there. It feels weird to just leave them. I don't understand the full picture here. Is this really what I can expect to happen? I thought I was not supposed to leave eggs lying around in case chickens eat them. She tells me that one day I will go in there and find a broody hen who won't leave the nest, but this hasn't happened yet. Are these eggs going bad? It is in the 40s during the day and 25-35 at night.
     
  2. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Depends on the chicken. Some chickens might go broody and sit on the eggs after collecting some...some won't. Some will go broody with no eggs and just sit on an empty nest. I don't think the sight of a full nest of eggs is going to affect this bird. I would pick them up. If one of your girls does go broody, you'll know it and then you can put eggs you picked up under her.
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    X 2 - broodiness is a hormonal condition that is not triggered by the sight of a nest of eggs
    *If* you want to keep bait in the nest because it makes you feel better with regards to encouraging broodiness I would suggest using golf balls, etc as they are a better alternative to using actual eggs.
     
  4. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Those eggs may have gone through a few freeze/thaw cycles and I am not sure I would eat them at this point. Most foods don't respond well to freezing and thawing over and over. I personally would chuck them and encourage the offender to lay in the nest but accept that she is going to lay in the corner anyway :).
    Those eggs are probably no good for hatching at this point anyway. Some folks have had luck hatching refrigerated eggs but some of those have been out there a long time.

    Do you have a rooster? I'm assuming you must have one if you're thinking your eggs might be fertile but it's always a good idea to ask I have found.

    One last thing. The scratch you give them doesn't help them lay more. In giving your girls a good diet it's a good idea to make sure the majority of it is their regular feed. Too many treats means they have less room for nutritious food. Kind of like having your dessert before dinner. Mine don't get scratch every day. Just something to consider although it does seem like you are getting a good amount of eggs out of them right now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  5. Sweetbird

    Sweetbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2015
    Floyd, Virginia
    Okay thanks. I'm going to pitch those eggs, but I feel like I want to block that corner now.

    As far as the scratch goes, they are always provided with layer pellets and scraps. I've been throwing them scratch on the cold days to give them more energy and warm them up with the act of scratching so they can devote more energy to laying. I don't expect I'll be giving them scratch in the summer months since they free range.
     
  6. Sweetbird

    Sweetbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Floyd, Virginia
    Oh and a rooster, yes! His name is Gomez and he's in my avatar picture. He's a young but very good rooster so far, keeping his ladies in line!
     
  7. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would bet dollars to doughnuts it's colder where I live. They don't really need the scratch to stay warm and they will eat that over their layer. 95% of my girls' dirt (here where it is routinely below zero this time of year) is just layer or all flock with oyster shell on the side. They do get some scraps most days and scratch once in a while. They also free range when they aren't deterred by the snow. They're getting better about wanting to walk on the snow now that they're used to it.

    You can keep on giving them scratch twice a day of you want. I just thought I would throw that out there. I'm sure it isn't hurting them but it isn't making them lay more either.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You could block the floor nest to get them back in the main nests....
    ....might want to check for possible pets in the main nests if they are all avoiding them.

    I give some scratch grains in late afternoon to fill their crops for the frigid nights.

    I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and all molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  9. Sweetbird

    Sweetbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2015
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    Thanks, everyone! They do get a dish of the oyster shells and they do use the nesting boxes.. They have been using the boxes *and* beneath them! I blocked the area and I'm adding more boxes, just in case.
     

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