Chickens not laying in nest boxes

gordonburrito

Songster
9 Years
Apr 4, 2010
316
6
119
Mid-Missouri
We've managed to get most of our chickens laying in the coop itself. We are happy about this. However, they have never used our nest boxes. They prefer to use the corner of the coop. With winter coming our chickens will be using the coop a lot more and we are worried that our precious eggs are going to get trampled. The inside of the coop up until this week had 3 nest boxes. They were quite small for the size of chickens we have, so I knocked one out and made two larger nest boxes since we only have 6 chickens and 4 of them are laying atm. Two nest boxes should be plenty. I also put in new straw bedding now that straw is readily available. They're still not interested. Anybody have any tips on how to break a chicken of a particular nest site. Below is a video of the inside of the coop if you want to get an idea of what it looks like from a chicken's point of view
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LauraG

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
347
5
121
Upstate, NY
Hi There!

I saw your coop video & everything seems ok. My nest boxes are raised off the floor maybe 18" or so, but I dont think that matters.

I just posted this in another thread, what was successful to me. Maybe it will help you-

I recently had young hens laying from the roost and in the run.....


What I did was take each *offending* hen (separately) and placed her in the nest box that had 2 golf balls. I allowed her to jump out. I calmly put her back in. She jumped out again.

Again I placed her in the nest box and tapped the golf balls so she noticed them. Well she did, then she started showing an interest in checking it out.

Then she kinda pecked around at the straw, turned around a couple times, pecked the golf balls again & hung out in there all her own. Jumped out after about 10-15 mins. She had already laid for the day so I wasnt expecting an egg BUT.........

Next day, voila, eggs in the nest box.

This worked for all of my newly laying hens.

I did this while it was quiet and just me and the young hen in the coop so she wasnt distracted by all the other girls and felt calm and comfortable. Never force a hen to stay in the nest box if she is anxious. You dont want it to be a scary place or experience. You may have to let her jump out 10 times before she shows an interest. I believe just stay patient and she will get it.

I try to nip it in the bud before she gets into a routine of laying on a roost or other undesireable area if possible..Mine just simply never acknowledged that the nest boxes existed before this

Good luck
 

mgw

Songster
9 Years
May 29, 2010
1,393
11
161
Eastern Wa.
Fake eggs in the nest box worked for me. Also take away the spot they like to lay by putting something there they can't lay on or in.

ETA. Maybe you could make or move a nest box there with fake eggs in it to get them started in a nest box. Good luck with those wayward layers
 
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TeamChaos

Songster
10 Years
Nov 8, 2009
1,068
12
163
I am new to chickens, so don't take my word as gospel but I have gotten all my girls laying in nest boxes (knockonwood) and I'm glad to offer feedback based on your video.

First thing I'd say is DON'T take off the roof- you mention just leaving the poop board for coverage and I don't think that would help because hens like a cozy, private box. if you're in the mood for a rebuild, I'd actually suggest framing out the open side (where they walk in) so that it's more private and they can toss bedding with abandon. That roof piece could be hinged for easy egg collecting. I'd also equip one box with the hay/straw like you have and the other with shavings. My hens have various preferences of what kind of bedding ratio they like and they will tweak a nest to their liking.

I see you have fake eggs in each box- are they golf balls? Fake eggs may have contributed to getting all my girls laying in the right spots- I bought some plain wooded egg shapes at a craft store for less than a dollar a piece and painted them myself. Beyond that, I'd move each real egg into a nest box when I found it elsewhere and I'd keep it there until I collected the total at the end of the day. As new girls got ready to lay and they were checking out potential spots, I think it piqued their interest to see how many eggs were in each box. I have roosters and one of the jobs they do is get in the nest box (or other suitable spot to lay an egg, by their calculations) and kick around, all while talking to the hens about how great it is. If you want to emulate that, I don't think it'd hurt. When I clean the nest boxes or pat down the bedding during egg checks, I do my best rendition of that pep talk.
I noticed the hay was shaped into nests, are you doing that or are they? If you are doing it, I think you should muss it up and see if the girls are inspired to make their own nest. Even if a hen is the third one to lay in the same spot that day, my girls love to push the chips around and kick and fluff. I think it helps with the hormone wash needed to lay an egg.
 

HappyTalons

Chirping
11 Years
Apr 9, 2010
77
8
96
Mid-Missouri
Quote:
(This is GB's wife so . . . hi
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Yes, they are golf balls and quite cheap ones at that. I have wondered if more accurate brown egg renditions would be better since that is what they are all laying.

I once moved one of our hens into the old nest boxes (before GB/DH enlarged them). She did seem interested in the golf balls. I tried putting the brown egg that had been laid by someone else in the next box (rather than "the spot") and after she hopped out again she tried very hard to move it out of the box with her beak. I think the old boxes were far too small since they had trouble turning around in them. I even tried forcing her to stay which didn't work so well. I haven't tried putting any of them in the new rendition boxes yet. I may try tomorrow since DH here has to work all day.

I noticed the hay was shaped into nests, are you doing that or are they?

I did that this afternoon. They were really about half full with straw before (DH's idea). The straw is also very stiff and generally the girls have really liked kicking it around in other parts of the coop but maybe it isn't very flexible for them.​
 
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cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,279
20,400
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
Maybe try golf balls or fake eggs in the nest boxes. I use golf balls in my nest boxes and all of my birds lay their eggs in the nest boxes and many times they share a nest box. I live in Florida so I use Spanish moss in my boxes as it is so abundant here. I tried hay but they would kick the hay out of the nest boxes with eggs. They don't do that with the Spanish moss. Some people use indoor/outdoor carpeting in their nest boxes. (washable)

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alaskachick

Songster
9 Years
Jun 13, 2010
349
0
109
Wasilla, Alaska
I tried to fool my chickens with ping pong balls. They were not easily fooled. They kept laying on the ground under my work table. We had 6 nice built nest boxes in the coop vacant. So we decided to raise them higher from one foot off the ground to 2 feet and that did the trick. Now they all lay eggs in the nest boxes sometimes 2 hens in one box.
 

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