Chickens Only Use One Nest Box!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by downriverchicks, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. downriverchicks

    downriverchicks Just Hatched

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    I have 37 pullets who are starting to lay, and we are getting 7-10 eggs a day right now from our birds. However, they will only lay them in one nest box. Not even the best nest box, in my opinion, as it is in a place where sometimes rain gets in, but it's the only one they'll use. It's become a problem because three birds will all manage to pile into the box and sit on one another, crushing and destroying their eggs. How can I encourage them to venture out into the others?
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    It's very normal for all the hens to want to lay in the same box. Try putting some dummy eggs in the other nests to encourage them to use the other boxes.
     
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  3. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Your birds are young...I use curtains...They work...More private...

    Cheers
     
  4. chickcrack

    chickcrack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been keeping chickens for 4 years and still learning lessons. I originally had 4 buckets turned on edge in a frame that held them secure. I'm a germaphobe so wanted to be able to remove easily and wash them out. They were lined with shelf liner for grip and then bedded with shavings. Worked great for 3 years except my bottom of the pecking order girl was getting severely picked on while trying to lay her egg. So I installed a wooden box up high thinking she could jump up there and have more privacy. It worked! Until all the rest of the hens decided that was a far superior nesting box :( Next thing I knew there was blood spattering, knock down fights and not one egg being laid in their original buckets! They were literally throwing each other out of the "special" box for hours a day. I ended up making 4 boxes to replace the buckets...ripped the buckets AND the special high box out and made each box identical-same dimensions same height and all facing the same way. Threw a golf ball in each one to give them the idea and voila. Peace restored...all boxes are used equally and I will never make that mistake again! Moral of the story...dont put one higher than the rest...don't make one bigger than the rest...don't give them a choice of different "views". Hopefully that helps before the rest of your girls start laying!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Curious how many nests you have and what they look like.

    Good points made by @chickcrack .
    I do same, nest bank all same size nests, fake eggs and/or golf balls in all.

    They don't need 'private', that's a human attribute..... they need 'feels safe to chickens'.
     
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Great advice. Just to share my experience - I opt to let my girls decide where to lay. The end result has been 4 plastic basins on a shelf, and a communal laying area (covered with 6" of bedding) on the floor. Some prefer the bedding (particularly the more portly, dual purpose birds) and others the nests. The communal laying area was their idea (i.e. they decided to lay in that space) but its not big deal to me, so I went with the flow.
     
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  7. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agree with Chickcracks approach, add a line of 4 new nest boxes inside the coop, put fake eggs/golf balls in all four and then close up/remove the existing boxes.
     
  8. downriverchicks

    downriverchicks Just Hatched

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    Our nest boxes are the kind that are built into the coop with an egg door on the outside. We have ten! They are all the same, but the one they prefer is the farthest from the chicken entrance.I put some fancy dummy eggs from the store inside some other nests today, but the hens were having none of it. They rolled them out into the middle of the coop floor and continued to nest on top of each other in the special box (if I put straw in the other nest boxes they also remove and rearrange it to their whims, so it wasn't the biggest surprise). I will keep at it and see. If they don't yield in a day or two I will close off the nestiest of boxes. One of my Copper Marans is just getting over her first round of broodiness, so I don't want to incite too much ire!

    We are building a new, different style coop in the next few weeks (planning on expanding the flock next spring and splitting some of the bigger breeds in my mixed flock from some of the meeker ones), and it won't have the egg door nest boxes, so I'll have more room to experiment. I like CTKen's "communal laying area" idea. It does seem to be what they want to do!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  9. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do they stay clean? I've thought about using curtains but I worry about them getting dirty and I don't want to constantly have to change them out.
     
  10. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You could always use feed sacks
     

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