Chickens kicking out straw of nesting boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by spiritpots, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. spiritpots

    spiritpots Songster

    I hope someone can give me some insight into why my chickens keep removing the straw from their nesting boxes, which they have been doing for the last couple of weeks. I have three 18 month old chickens who are currently not laying (they just finished molting and we only have 9-1/2 hours of daylight) and three 8 month old pullets. One of the pullets started laying yesterday and I expect the other two will begin soon. I'm thinking that it is probably the pullets that are doing this but I'm not sure. I keep a ceramic egg in one of the boxes because this past summer my brown leghorn started laying in other areas in the coop. I tried removing the fake egg after a few weeks but she started not using the nesting box again so I put it back in. The fake egg did not seem to bother the chickens at all so I've just left it there. This ceramic egg is kicked out along with the straw leaving the boxes totally empty. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!
    ValerieJ and chrissynemetz like this.
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It's impossible to know for certain what chickens' motives are. All we can do is try to encourage them to do things the way we'd like, which is about as easy as telling a cat what to do.

    So you need to look at your nest boxes and figure out a way to keep the straw bedding confined. Installing a low barrier across the opening can help, but part of the nesting ritual is to fluff up and arrange the bedding prior to laying an egg, and some will always end up on the floor.

    Fake eggs don't really fool a hen. It's sort of like parking lot traffic signs are to us humans. They are "suggestions" more than enforcement tools, and we choose to ignore them or not. Same with a hen and a fake egg. She may see it as a "suggestion" to lay in that nest or choose to ignore the egg. Most of my new layers give no indication that they think a fake egg is real.
    Sequel, ValerieJ, EggWalrus and 3 others like this.
  3. They like to roll the eggs around. I used to think it was a game where I was supposed to scour the coop, find and collect all the dummy eggs and then put them back in the box for the next round of Where Will They Be.

    They also like to scratch out the nest like a dog likes to circle their bed before settling in.

    I solved both problems by tacking up a 3" piece of trim across the front of my nesting boxes. They still scratch and bury the eggs but now the trim provides a lip that keeps the bedding within the nests.
  4. spiritpots

    spiritpots Songster

    Thank you! I just peeked in the coop and saw two of the new pullets clearing out the boxes again. One of them was the one who laid yesterday. I did not have this problem with the older chickens when they started laying but will try adding an edge to the front to the boxes. Hopefully that will help. I'll also pull out the fake egg.
  5. Oh! Don't do that! You'll spoil all their fun and all of yours. :eek:

    But I hope adding the lip solves your bedding issue!
  6. chrissynemetz

    chrissynemetz I want a hippopotamus for Christmas

    Dec 19, 2013
    Olathe Colorado
    Adding a piece of trim to the nest boxes should help. I have one hen who tries her best to scratch out every single piece of bedding before she'll lay her egg. :barnie I have another who takes the bedding and completely covers herself with it.... chickens can be so entertaining! :D
  7. boredom also plays a part in this.
    i also use Straw for my nest boxes. i use straw as it has less leaves and seeds that the chickens like to eat than is in Hay.
    i notice in late winter when mine are confined in the coop, that i to will sometime find the nesting material scratched around. they cant scratch it out because i have a 2 inch lip.
    spring comes and i let them out and the nest box scratching stops.
    if your chickens dont have alot of space to move about, maybe give them other things to occupy themself.
    a flock block
    hang a cabbage
    give them a flake of alfalfa to dig through
    i also keep 3 golf balls in each of my 5 nest boxes. they still favor one box in particular.
    dont know why except it is the farthest box from the window, maybe darker.
    good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
    Sequel, EggWalrus and chrissynemetz like this.
  8. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    I had a similar problem. Now I use these in my nest boxes:
    They're not the cheapest, but they have made refilling the boxes unnecessary, and cleaning them is a breeze. I bought a pack of ten, but the three I put in nearly a year ago have yet to need replacing. I just turn em upside down and shake them out if they need cleaning.

    The girls scratch them and shape them like they would normal bedding, but nothing ever falls out. And I added a larger lip to my boxes because I found eggs on the floor a couple of times. I now have ZERO problems with bedding, lost/dirty eggs, and cleaning boxes.

    You can see how they look after nearly a year and how the girls have shaped them nicely. I LOVE them!
  9. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    They kick out the straw because they are trying to make a hollow in the base of the nest box in which to lay the eggs.
    This article explains a bit about it.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
    Sequel, aart, rosemarythyme and 3 others like this.
  10. spiritpots

    spiritpots Songster

    Sequel likes this.

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