Crazy Hens Line Up to Use Favorite Nest!

Barry Natchitoches

11 Years
Sep 4, 2008
I have 13 hens and one rooster who live in a 13 by 8 foot by 6 foot high henhouse, and have a 20 foot by 20 foot fenced in chicken yard to play in.

In the back portion of that chicken yard, we recently built a second, small housing unit that we designed to be emergency housing for a sick/injured bird, or as a safe place for a broody hen to lay in wait.

This separate housing unit is 4 by 4 feet by 3 feet high, has a 2 foot long florescent light in it that is wired into the same timer that regulates the big henhouse's lighting system, and currently has a fan running in it (the main henhouse currently has 3 fans running in it -- it's still hot as summer down in these southern parts). We can replace the fan with a heating lamp if ever winter cold comes.

Now, like I said, my wife and I figured that little housing unit to be a short term residential area for birds with special needs.

But our feathered children had other ideas.

They already have a private laying area inside their main henhouse -- a 3 foot by 6 foot by 2 foot high plywood box with three very private nests that they can go in to lay their eggs. They have had that area all of their little lives.

We finished that little emergency housing unit in the late spring. One hen -- a little one who was just beginning to lay eggs about the same time as the housing unit was finished -- began laying her eggs in it immediately, the very first day it was up for chicken usage. In fact, she laid her first egg in that little place on the first day it was opened.

It took a couple of months to happen, but one by one, the little feathered ladies abandoned their inside nesting area for the new little place outside.

We don't know why (since the inside place is really an excellent place to lay).

But that is what is happening.

As I write this, I'm looking out the window and into my back yard, where several of the hens are hanging around the new housing unit right now, waiting for their chance to go in there and lay an egg.

My wife is home more than I am (I'm usually at work during the day) and she's been telling me about this for a couple of weeks now.

There is even one little lady, by the name of Lucy (named after the Lucy character of "I Love Lucy") who will stand in the doorway and begin to cackle loudly in complaint if she cannot get to the nest when she wants to lay. There are three perfectly good nests inside the henhouse, but she'd rather complain quite loudly if she can't get to the one in the new emergency housing unit.

Finally, this past weekend, I put a second nest up on the same shelf as the original nest in that new housing unit. The two nests are now side by side. We put a ceramic egg in it to help promote the new nest's use.

We needn't have bothered with the ceramic egg.

The gals took to the second nest like bees to honeycomb.

But there are still only two nests out there in that new little place for 13 very active laying hens. (It is too small to fit a third in there without completely altering its original intent as an emergency housing unit for birds that need to be segregated from the main group).

So the end result is -- a large congregation of hens waiting for their turn in the favorite laying nests, while a perfectly good laying area with three fine laying nests inside are completely abandoned...

Crazy hens!
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Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
Don't try to understand chickens. You'll only drive yourself batty. Take it from someone who has already made the trip.

Boo-Boo's Mama

9 Years
Mar 21, 2010
Western Edge of Central Texas
I have hens that will not lay alone...they have to get in the nest with someone who is already working on getting their egg laid. They usually causes that hen to get up and leave so they go in search of another and on and on. That has been going on this it was Petunia and Pansy as a team and with 3 hens in a box there was not room to even move. I think Pansy finally laid an egg for the first time...don't think Petunia ever laid today. Keep hoping and praying they will all calm down and get with the program!

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