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Chickens haven't found their nest box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MedChicken, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. MedChicken

    MedChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 25, 2011
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    Help! I moved recently and built an all-new coop.This is what it looks like from the outside. The waterer was freezing so I just replaced it with my "winterized" waterer (a 5-gal bucket, painted black, with horizontal nipples). I didn't add the external nest boxes until my first hen started laying, to avoid roosting in the boxes.

    [​IMG]

    Well, my first few eggs were in odd locations...
    [​IMG]
    (The bright spot in the photo is the opening to the external nest box, which my husband had opened to get to the egg)


    [​IMG]
    Again, the small rectangle in the background is the opening to the nest box - you are seeing the inside back wall of the external nest box through the cutout opening from the main coop to the nest box.

    Now, they are just laying in the corners of the coop (not the run, at least). I have two that are laying at the moment (they are just young hens, just getting started) and each is laying in a separate corner. I don't think they have even figured out that the nest box is there! It's a communal nest box, like I had in my old coop, and I have decoy eggs in there.

    [​IMG]

    The boxes are filled with the same pine shavings as the inside of the coop.

    How do I entice them to lay in the boxes, instead of on the floor of the coop? I really wonder if they have even noticed that the nest boxes are there, honestly. The nest boxes are below the level of the roosts, they are out of the way, they are quiet, they are dark, and they are clean. The door is small, but it's big enough for a hen to get through.

    Should I put a red curtain over the opening? Should I take the decoy eggs out? Should I replace the pine shavings with straw? Cut a larger door? Put a light in the nest box? It's not terrible where they are laying, but it means I have to stoop down in the run to get them, and the eggs get a bit dirty.

    Thanks!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    I think it's too dark for them to go into, what I would do is place each hen in there to show them it's not a scary place, it may not occur to them to go into a darken hole that wasn't there before, otherwise you could try enlarging the hole or adding a temporary light, but I would try putting them in there first.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Agrees putting them in there might help.
    You could drill some one inch holes at top of nests under the lid overhang, cover with 1/2 wire mesh.
    It will let some light in and also provide some ventilation once it gets hot out.
    You might also cut one or two more entrances into your communal nest...and you might think about dividing that space into 2-3 nests.

    New layers can take up to a month ro so to get things in the groove....
    ....Meanwhile, eggs everywhere, some of them can be rather funky looking, soft or thin shelled, huge double yolked eggs.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. MedChicken

    MedChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 25, 2011
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    When I went back out last night, the hens were already roosting for the night. I picked up the one closest to the door and put her in the nest box. She ran right back out to roost with the others. Today I left for work at 6:30am and got home at 6:30pm. When I got back the hens were roosting on their perches and there were two eggs in the nest box! There was a third egg on the floor, but not bad for one day!
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Wow, that was fast, great to hear.
     
  6. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see that you are in Virginia and it must get hot in the summer. I believe the opening leading to your nest box won't let enough ventilation in while your hens are laying eggs. You can either make the opening wider all along the long nest box or open the nest lid a bit to let some fresh air in.
    Glad to see that your hens started laying in the box
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

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    Aart has some great suggestions I would certainly give some thought to.

    Chickens are very curious and almost always will find the best places in which to lay their eggs if given the opportunity. Your girls have been a little slow probably because they didn't have access to the nest box prior to beginning to lay. Normally, pullets will explore nest boxes a week or two prior to laying their first eggs, messing around, playing, making a mess, but learning that it's where they want to lay their eggs when the time comes.

    It's a common mistake I believe many people make, not providing access to the nest boxes well ahead of point of lay.
     
  8. MedChicken

    MedChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 25, 2011
    Virginia (Zone 7)
    Thanks for the tips! My old coop had a long nest box sitting on the ground, so the dirt floor kept it cool in the summer. It was also open all along one side. With this one up off the ground, I can definitely see how it would need some extra ventilation. Is it better to do big holes (maybe 1") covered with hardware cloth, or lots of tiny (1/4"?) holes without covering? I'll also look at enlarging the door opening. I won't be able to do any work on it until Saturday, so I have some time to plan!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    I would say fewer but bigger holes would be better.
     

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