Dummies quit using the nest boxes--HELLLLPPP!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickieNikki, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. ChickieNikki

    ChickieNikki Chillin' With My Peeps

    So we have a weird situation. Our dog chewed through the poultry fence, so the chickens are VERY free range, wandering much of our 3 acres most of the day on warmer days. We got Sugar the Super Dog a doghouse inside the chicken yard, but she is a pasture dog and will not use it. So 2 chickens have taken to laying in the pellet bedding in the doghouse. Sugar will often steal those eggs, but since she isn't using the doghouse, we're going to sell it once it's warm enough to get out there and clear it out.

    So, the next issue is we have 2 community nest boxes, which the chickens are very comfortable using, and have been for 4 months now. I lined them with straw at first, but they kicked it all out. And after they did this ten times, I just left them unlined. No eggs ever broke, so oh well, right? Well, as the pellet bedding has broken down and become more saw-dust-y, they have begun hollowing out little dips like nests on the floor of the coop--3 or 4 of them sometimes, right in the middle of everything--and laying eggs there. This has been going on for about a week and a half, and after seeing it for a few days, I put fresh pellets in the nest boxes, but only found one or two eggs there, with the rest in the coop. I HATE walking into the coop for eggs, and I DO NOT want this to be the new fashion.

    Just for information's sake, there are 22 chickens, and the coop is 8X12, with deep litter that is probably about 8" deep right now. They don't have food or water in the coop, but they have free access in and out of it, and about 24' of roost space way above the nest boxes. The nest boxes are 28" across, there are 2 of them, and like i said, they always laid there before, until recently. The only change in their situation is that they suddenly got bold and started to roam the whole property at about the same time they started to quit using the nest boxes, but I don't know what that has to do with it.

    Weird little brainless critters, huh!!
  2. Andi

    Andi Chillin' With My Peeps

    You were probably thinking they preferred to lay their eggs in the soft broken down pellet bedding, and I agree. As far as them kicking out the bedding you put in the nest boxes. mine do that too. I just add more. It keeps it clean in the box. I could see them not wanting to lay on pellets. It doesn't sound very comfy to me. Do these inside boxes have sides that go up high enough to contain most of their kicking outing? Mine don't, and that's, I'm sure, why I have to refill them daily. But for me, I don't mind. I don't like having to go in the coop when I don't have to either.

    I also agree the roaming and the laying out of the box are coincidental. They may be laying all over the yard as well. Chances are, Sugar will take care of finding those for you, now that she's discovered they taste so good.

    I hope you get them laying in the boxes again soon.
  3. Charlie Chicken

    Charlie Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 24, 2007
    Phippsburg, ME
    This is one of the reasons raising chickens is so interesting. We are always trying to come up with ways to get them to behave as we would like them too rather than how they think they would like to behave. I can understand why they would prefer laying their eggs on the floor in self made nests. The bare bottom nest probably turned them off and they went looking elsewhere. Since straw didn't work before you might want to try shavings in the nest. Put some fake eggs in there and they will check out the new arrangement. It will be up to the hens to decide if they like the new arrangements or not but chances are they will prefer it to laying on the floor.
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I had the same problem with them kicking out the straw in the nest box. So I raised the front side quite a bit--I just now measured it and it is 6 1/4" high on the inside, 7" high on the outside. Now I have NO problem with them kicking straw out. Hens like to do their own decorating, maybe they just can't get enough of a handle on those pellets.

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