Do they need constant access to their nesting boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by coltsfoot, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. coltsfoot

    coltsfoot Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 21, 2011
    Hello, we have four happy young hens who recently started laying (within the last few weeks). We believe that it's important for their health, happiness and sanity to be able to free range so they spend most of the day doing just that. Our concern is that because we need to keep the run/coup shut during the day to keep out squirrels etc. they are going to lay eggs elsewhere.

    An egg lost once and a while isn't really an issue but is there a risk of them eventually abandoning their box?

    Do they hold in the egg until they can enter the coop? Is there some kind of minimum time that they need to have access to the box?

    And finally, does anyone place a nesting box outside of the enclosed coup/run area

    thanks for your input!!!

  2. ChicKat

    ChicKat Chicken Obsessed Premium Member


    good questions. I was going to be 'funny' and say YES they need access.

    Here's the thing that I think of with mine. If they have already laid the egg....go for it and free range. If they haven't then I want them to lay in the nest box (of course).

    If I leave the run open, the dogs may sneak in and gobble up the chicken feed-- (a little like your squirrel issue I would guess). I have seen mine go back to the nest box from free ranging....and when I put them in a portable pen and they need to lay---one will holler until I let her out of the portable and either take or guide her to the nest box.

    I had thought of your idea of an external nesting box. It would need to be safe, dark and suitable. thus far, I haven't taken that step though. I know our livestock like to have routines and...I don't believe it is healthy for the chicken to have to prevent laying when it is their normal time. (once I accidentally locked one of mine out of her coop at laying time, she seemed to wait until the next day---but the egg had a definite ridge which, I believe, indicates an interruption in the laying process.)
    Not much help I guess, but I can at least give you a bump.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  3. Hunter0704

    Hunter0704 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 8, 2011
    Wentzville, MO
    Usually, my girls lay eggs every morning and no later than 10:30 a.m. After that time, I let them out to free range. Therefore, no problem finding their beautiful and plentifully laid eggs. Hope this helps!
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Yes you want them to be able to get to a nest box. I'd switch to a treadle feeder or something so that they can access their coop. Just my opinion.
  5. coltsfoot

    coltsfoot Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 21, 2011
    great, thanks for all the help!!!

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