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encouraging hens to lay eggs in new nesting box and sleep on new roost

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jsmith2952, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. jsmith2952

    jsmith2952 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all,

    My husband recently added an addition to our coop, adding a few feet to it in order to make our 3 hens a little more comfortable this winter. He made the overall structure into a 6x4 box. The addition involved moving the nesting box from its original location to the end wall(same nesting box, same height off ground, etc, just now 3 feet farther away...). The new addition is much warmer (and better insulated) than the old one but for some reason the chickens won't go to that end of the coop to sleep (there is a long roosting bar that goes from one end of the coop to the other). They all still sleep cuddled together close to the pop door instead, which I can't figure out why they'd want to since the temperatures have already been dipping to 0s at night. Also, they used to gladly lay eggs in the nesting box, but now lay eggs just outside of it (they even pull straw down from the box to make a little nesting spot. I've tried golf balls, but to no avail. What can I do to a) get them to sleep where it's warmer, and b) get them to lay in the nesting box again?

    Thanks in advance,

    Jen
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Chickens are creatures of habit and once they've established where they want to sleep good luck changing them! As long as they are safely inside the coop at night then I wouldn't worry about it. If the pop door is the only source of light and ventilation that could be another reason why they are staying closer to it. Chickens do not naturally like to be in the pitch black of a closed up coop, preferring at least a little natural light whether it be moonlight or a yard light etc. Although if the pop door is open all night I'd also be concerned about predators getting in.

    I don't have any other advice as far as getting them to lay in the nest boxes, some of my birds lay in their coop but a few have a communal nest in my barn where eggs are laid each day. Since my barn is small and I know where the nest is I really don't care.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Go out after dark and move them to the roost you want them to sleep on. Generally chickens prefer higher roosts to lower ones, so the new one should be at least as high as the old one. Once they are used to it they should sleep there on their own.

    Put some golf balls or fake eggs in the nest boxes for a week or so to encourage them to use the boxes.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. aliciasimon

    aliciasimon Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm new to raising chickens myself so I'm sure others will have better insight. The only thing I can suggest is that chickens are creatures of habit. You may have to enclose them on the side that is better for them until they get used to the idea.
     
  5. jsmith2952

    jsmith2952 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't mind if they stay where they are by the pop door, but a real concern is that as winter is approaching will they move to a warmer spot or are they such creatures of habit that they'd stay somewhere that might be colder? I can relax if I know they'll just figure it out. Would moving them after they're asleep be traumatic on them??

    As for the nesting boxes, if my girls lay brown eggs should I put eggs that look brown there? would that help, or does it even matter?

    Thanks so much all for the replies!
     
  6. bluebirdnanny

    bluebirdnanny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let the chickens be chickens. If they get cold they may move to the warmer area. But likely where they are is the most comfortable to them. Remember THEY have DOWN to keep them warm.
     
  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Anything round or oval that is generally egg-sized works fine.
     
  8. jsmith2952

    jsmith2952 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    well, it's been up to -6c with the wind chill here already, and my chickens STILL are roosting in the old coop...on the plus side, the golf ball has worked for one hen--the others still make a nice little nest just below the nesting box to lay their eggs, but one out of three isn't bad!!

    We'll see how they fare over their first Canadian winter!

    Thanks again for the advice all!
    Jen
     
  9. cackleberrycam

    cackleberrycam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By the way, straw can harbor mites!
    I would get rid of it and use pine shavings.
    Good luck with your girls! [​IMG]
     
  10. jsmith2952

    jsmith2952 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    can pine shavings harbor mites too? the straw is very dry--does that matter?
     

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