Do hens know where to lay?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jimz1, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. jimz1

    jimz1 Songster

    Jun 6, 2010
    Coleman, Wi
    My chickens won't be ready to lay for a few months yet, but I was wondering something. I've got them running around. Free ranging I guess. When it comes time for them to start laying, how will they know to lay in the nest boxes instead of outside in the bushes or somewhere else? Is there some trick to get them to go in the boxes?
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Fake eggs in the boxes. Mine free range everyday & lay all their eggs in their boxs.
  3. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Where do they go to roost at night?? THat seems to determine where they lay their eggs from all the posts I've read.

    My girls come to roost in a coop each night; that is where we put the nest boxes about 2 days before they started laying (we cut it a bit too close!) THe girls checked out the boxes, going in rearranging the straw, pulling at things, laying down and wiggling to make a nest. Comical to watch really! LOL

    We are at 3 pullet eggs daily from 4 hens I think, and an older henjust came back into lay placing a huge xlg in her own nest box. THe three pullet eggs today were in the same box; yesterday 2 were in the same box and the third with the xlg egg.

    I've read that if they free range all the time, they find their own places to lay the eggs. I don't have any experience with this personally. As I want to find my eggs easily and quickly, I provided the quiet, clean nest boxes in a place of security for the hen.

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  4. ChickenSahib

    ChickenSahib Chirping

    May 21, 2011
    The above works. In fact for a cheap nest box, just use a 5gal bucket with half a lid and put straw inside. While we were making our's one of the chickens decided to just lay an egg inside without any straw. We were kind of mad at her since she kept getting in the way of the build, but she surprised us!

    A fake egg is a must. They'll catch on quicker then you'd think ^^.
  5. stargirl

    stargirl Songster

    Jun 15, 2011
    Fake eggs worked perfectly for me too.
    In fact, my girls are now so insistent on laying in their nest boxes that once when my automatic door opener jammed, they still managed to squeeze in through the 3 inch gap to lap their eggs there! Lovely, crazy girls! [​IMG]
  6. Carolyn

    Carolyn Songster

    Apr 6, 2008
    You asked if hens know where to lay. Mine do. However yesterday they about pushed my last button. I am about out of straw so I filled one of the nest boxes with pine shavings 2 days ago. I found one egg in the straw nest box, one on the floor of the chicken house (too far away from the nesting box to have been accidentally scratched out by another hen) and one laying in the chicken yard. In the pine shavings box was poop!
    These are grown chickens that have been using these nest boxes for months. This morning they are raising a big sqawk waiting to take turns in the staw box.

    Needless to say I found enough straw this morning to fix it like they want it.

    If you have an older hen laying in a nest box it helps. Fake eggs help and keeping them in the run until early afternoon before free ranging also helps them establish a laying pattern. If they get broody or you make 'em mad you may have an easter egg hunt on your hands. Good luck. First eggs are soooo eggciting!!
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  7. stargirl

    stargirl Songster

    Jun 15, 2011
    [​IMG] "Sawdust?? We won't lay in sawdust! What does she think we are?!"
  8. Oghdoff

    Oghdoff Chirping

    May 24, 2011
    SE Texas
    Maybe it's because mine are still young, but they will not lay in them. They have formed nests in them with the fake egs, but still rather make a next in the corner under the roost. [​IMG]
  9. top of the hill

    top of the hill Chirping

    Jun 20, 2011
    Ours are still a few weeks from laying, but we still need to build our boxes. Am I supposed to use hay or pine shavings?
  10. poseygrace

    poseygrace Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    I use pine shavings and they work well. My pullets free range, but i used plastic Easter Eggs in the nest boxes and that's where they've been laying.

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