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Fake egg/nest box question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by flyin-lowe, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got my pullets home 9 days ago. 3 RIR, 3 golden comets, and 3 barred rocks, all hatched on October 4 according to breeder. I have three nesting boxes and when I brought them home I put a golf ball in each box. I had seen this and assumed it was so the hens would "learn" what the nest boxes were for. The third day one RIR and 1 comet each laid an egg in two different boxes. I took out the golf balls and every since the comet has been laying one egg a day and nothing from the others. There is no poop in the nest boxes so I know they aren't roosting in them or anything. Is there any benefit in keeping fake eggs in at this point or should I assume they all know what the nest boxes are for. I didn't know if seeing the eggs would stimulate them to start laying or if it was only to help them realize that is where they lay eggs once ready. We are just starting to add hours to the day and it is warming up. I am assuming the move was a little stressful on them as well.

    The other question I have is that so far I have found eggs in each different nest box. 1 in the middle one and the remainder have been on either end. Is it common for a hen to switch this up or is it possible I have more then one laying eggs and they are just not each laying every day. Since I am consistently getting one egg a day I assumed it was the same hen but the alternating nest box had me confused.
     
  2. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I would continue to keep the fake eggs in the nest, at least until they have all started laying and have learned to use the nests.

    Are your chickens free-range? Is there any chance there is a hidden nest of eggs somewhere, possibly even in a dark corner of the coop? If you're certain all of the eggs are being laid in the nest boxes, then it may just simply be the stress of them being in a new coop, in which case the remaining pullets should start laying very soon.

    And yes, I have noticed with my hens that some don't always use the same box, they'll switch between nests, which ever one happens to strike their fancy that day. Others have "their" nest, and insist on using it, even if they have to wait until another hen is done and there's a seemingly identical empty nest next to it. Animals' individual quirks can be so funny!
     
  3. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    After posting this I went back and looked at the text message from the breeder. There might have been a typo on his part originally. He told me they hatched October 4th but he said they were 18 weeks old. He might have meant November 4 or something else. October 4 would be 24 weeks. I went to his CL add and it says they are starting to lay and those that aren't are due to start laying by the 1st of April. I know the morning I went to pick mine up he had about 1500 chickens left to sell and he said he was getting about 100 eggs a day, so only a small percentage of them have started laying. Ill put some golf balls back in the nests until I start seeing more eggs per day.

    Right now they are confined to the coop and run. The first couple days they would not hardly come out of the coop, now they are spending more and more time each day outside but it has been rainy lately. After looking at the text message and his CL add I am guessing they are closer to 18-20 weeks old then they are 24 weeks. I am going to send him a message and confirm the hatch date, just out of my own curiosity.
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they're 20 weeks old or less then that makes more sense. Also, at least in my experience, fall chicks develop a little slower than spring chicks of the same age, likely because they're using calories over the winter to stay warm rather than just grow.

    What do their combs look like? Large, waxy, scarlet-red combs and wattles means she's laying or going to start laying very soon. Small pale combs means eggs are still at least a couple weeks a way yet.
     
  5. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    I leave the fake eggs in all the time as it seems to be a constant mental minder for them, seems as soon as I take them out some chickens forget and start laying wherever... Also it can help stimulate them to lay because they assume if there is an egg there another chicken found it to be a good and/or safe place to lay at the current time... The only negative aspect is that leaving eggs in there can encourage some birds to go broody... I have enough nesting boxes that I let a few go broody and it's not a concern but it could be fore people with less boxes and less chickens...
     
  6. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For the most part the combs/wattles are not full and developed yet. I didn't know if there was science behind that or not. Reason I say that is my barred rocks have the best combs/wattles. The comets which I have seen laying barely have any. Real light in color and the are not long at all.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There is some science behind it but things like comb/wattle color, whether the vents are soft, whether they squat are clues, not absolute signs they are laying. Bright red combs/wattles are a sexual sign to the rooster that the hen’s eggs might need to be fertilized so hens laying often have bright red combs/wattles. But the color or brightness of the comb/wattles can change throughout the day. And some just don’t get that bright.

    A hen that is laying, about to lay, or just stopped laying should have a large, moist, soft vent. It’s not a sure sign she is actually laying but a small, hard, dry vent is a sign she is not laying. That is a good way to eliminate a suspect more than confirm one is actually laying.

    A pullet that willingly squats for a rooster (or maybe you) is a sign she is sexually maturing and may be close to laying, but I’ve seen a 13 week old pullet willingly squat for a cockerel two months before she laid her first egg. That was about dominance, not sexual maturity.

    There are several signs but the only proof a hen is laying is what she leaves in the nest. I almost forgot, the width of the pelvic bones is another sign, wider bones means she is closer to laying.

    I’ve had pullets start to lay at 18 weeks, I’ve had pullets lay their first egg at nine months, my only blue egg layers so there was no doubt which ones laid those eggs. There are a lot of different things that influence that. Heredity is a big one but whether the days are getting longer or shorter, diet, is your weather severely cold or hot, day length, and who knows what else all have an influence. Interestingly the ones that started laying at nine months started the first week of December when my days were about as short as they were going to get and still getting shorter. I did not add additional lights. That goes against all the rules. When they lay their first egg is really up to the individual pullet.

    I also leave one golf ball in each nest permanently. It helps show them where to lay. I’ve seen a hen lay on the coop floor next to a golf ball that got knocked out of the nest. I have no doubt the balls encourage them where to lay. I have had hens start to lay in odd places when the golf balls are missing. A couple of times I’ve had a snake enter the coop overnight and eat the golf balls, thinking they were eggs. I don’t know if a snake can regurgitate the golf balls or not, I’ve read both ways, but that’s supposed to kill them. It did in my case because they could not get back out through the holes they came in, the golf balls would not fit. But one member of this forum that I trust said her hens would not lay in her nests until she removed the fake eggs. When you deal with living animals you just don’t know what will actually happen.

    I have three nests. Yesterday I got five eggs total, either one or two eggs in each nest. Most days I’ll get most of those eggs in the same nest, usually the upper nest. But there are days most of them might be in the lower left nest. Some hens are very strong in laying in the same nest every day, others move around.

    People like to think there are hard and fast rules on how a living animal will behave or produce, but each really is an individual. You can’t be too rigid in thinking about them, you have to remain flexible.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I had a newly laying pullet that wouldn't lay in the single nest available until I removed the fake egg...but she got over it eventually.
    I keep fake eggs/golf balls in the nests at all times too....
    .....think it helps to 'spread the love' and discourage fighting over the favorite nest of the day as I have only 4 nests for 14 layers and it can get busy in there.
    Sometimes I mix up the fake eggs, more in one nest - none in another just to see what happens......no discernible results, tho often the empty nest stays that way.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    See what I mean. Aart’s pullet won’t stay consistent enough for me to use it as an example for long.
     
  10. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    A few days ago I put one of my soon to be bred pullets (so she can cleanse her system) in a grow out pen with my 15-16 week Cream Legbars... I put a nest box in there so that older pullet would still lay, to my surprise there were two eggs in there the 2nd day and there is no doubt one egg was from a 15-16 week pullets as it was clearly the CL mint blue/green color not the bright blue color of the older pullet...

    They are full of surprises...
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016

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