Does anyone have to close off their nesting boxes at night and re-open them in the morning?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenHawk12, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chirping

    May 7, 2015
    If I don't close off my egg boxes, the chickens sleep in them and they are filled with poop the next morning. I had left it closed off when they stopped laying around December (well, of my 3 hens, only 2 lay eggs - the other never laid eggs and she's 1.5 years old now, but a favorite of my kids so we keep the freeloader around for sentimental reasons).

    We also hatched 6 new chicks in November that have been out in the coop with the hens since they were 2 weeks old. Since they were out there young, they roost when sleeping with no problem. However, my 3 hens had no roost until they were 2 months old, and I was never able to get them to sleep roosting, no matter how many tricks I tried. So they sleep in the corners of the coop on the coop floor, but if the egg boxes are open, they will try to sleep in there.

    One of my hens started laying an egg in the coop every 4-5 days about 2 weeks ago, so I opened up the egg box for her, but the next morning it was FILLED with poop, not just from the hens, but the chicks must have been playing in there too.

    This is making my chicken-keeping quite a headache, especially in this rainy, snowy, miserable winter we are having. I am thinking about buying a couple of those portable plastic egg boxes they sell at TSC and putting them inside the coop for the hens to sleep in. Do you think this might work and that they will sleep in the ones in the coop, and lay eggs in the real next box? Even so, I will probably have to wait until the chicks start laying in the spring, right? Otherwise they will play and poop in there too? They are about 13 weeks old now.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Can you post photos of the inside of you coop? Looking at the roosts in relation to the nests and how hard it is for them to get to and from the roosts. Some dimensions would help too. How big is the coop, how high are the roosts, and how long are the roosts?

    Do you have Silkies? Since Silkies can’t fly they can be “special needs” chickens.

    I just can’t intelligently answer questions like this without knowing what you are working with.
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Yes, I have that problem, even though the perch is higher than the nest boxes. Each afternoon, after the hens are through laying, I take a scrap of steel field fencing and place it across the nest boxes. First thing in the morning, I take it off so they can access the boxes. It just takes one second, and everyone is happy and the nests stay clean.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Very good questions and post!
    Hope they come back with the answers.

    Am also wondering what tricks they tried and how long they tried can take many repetitions of said tricks to change habits.
    I put a hinged cover over my nest bank, close it an hour or so before dusk and uncover after dark when I lock up.
    Only have to do this when pullets are young and not yet laying...which can be a couple months.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    B/C of the likelihood of dealing with this very issue, My nest boxes are at the opposite side of the coop from the perches. I have 3 over 3 nest boxes. The girls prefer the top boxes. I designed the landing strip in front of the top boxes so that it could be flipped up to block off those top boxes. They won't try to sleep in the bottom boxes b/c they are at floor level. When ever training new chicks to the coop, it's so easy to just flip up that perch. I also have a piece of plywood with key holes (so it can hang on a couple of screws) that I can hang over the opening to the lower boxes, but that is rarely needed. Occasionally, I'll have a bird who has a persecution complex, and I have to close off the boxes for a week or two at night. It's also helpful to offer multiple perching areas away from the main perch(es) so those shy girls can perch while not getting picked on.

  6. Yorkiema4

    Yorkiema4 Hatching

    May 16, 2016
    I started going in the coop after dark and physically removing the hens from the nesting boxes and putting them on the roost. After about 3 or 4 days they stopped trying to sleep in there. I have an Australop that I have to correct from time to time, but this worked for me.
  7. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    Yep, every night. There is one Cuckoo Maran and one Japanese Bantam that try EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. AND every single night I chase them onto their roost and raise the bar in front.

    If nothing else these two are persistent.

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