Getting a hen to use a laying box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by hotspur, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. hotspur

    hotspur Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Can you offer practical suggestions borne out of successful experience encouraging a hen to lay in a laying box instead of in its own nest outside the coop?

    I have a rooster and three hens, all free ranging. The hens started laying about three weeks ago.

    After I first noticed one of the hens going missing for an hour or so per day, I searched the garden and I found eggs in a secluded and hidden spot. Then, I constructed a two-compartment laying box and put straw inside it; and two of the three hens took to immediately - each laying one egg per day there for about the last two weeks.

    The other hen hasn't been interested in the laying box.
    Yesterday, after she had gone missing for over four hours (and for the first time) I found her in her nest in another secluded spot, on the other side of the garden fence - with two dozen eggs beneath her!!!!! The weather's been pretty nice and warm or hot here in California for months; and it turned a little cool only a couple of days ago.

    After several chases yesterday evening, I put her and five warm eggs in the laying box, and then closed her up in there overnight. This morning she jumped straight out of the laying box when I opened it up - and the five eggs were flat cold. Now, she's back sitting in her own (empty) nest again.

    Also, what are the chances that the two dozen eggs I found in the wild nest are edible? Also by the way, I've noticed the rooster and some of the hens copulating, starting a couple of weeks ago.
     
  2. winekntrychicks

    winekntrychicks Pooper Peeper

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    My chickens are not allowed to free range due to airborne predators. This allows me to keep them safe as well as I can somewhat control were they lay eggs. I work from home so I am able to frequently check on the girls. I have no previous chicken raising experience but I really watch behaviors and such.
    My pullets are only 21 weeks old and my first just started laying last week (only one pullet laying so far, we have six). They have a beautiful coop and run that my husband built. We finished the nesting boxes about 3 weeks ago. We took them down to the coop; lined them with pine shavings and set them on the floor.
    they have been sitting on the floor for 3 weeks. Saturday I went down to check on my girl as it was just about time for her to lay (she has been laying in the corner of the coop for a going on a week now) she had built corner nest but I observed her looking up---so from this I knew she was ready for the nesting boxes to be hung---even though she has been laying in the corner. So I went down to collect eggs on sunday-she layed in corner- we hung boxes Sun (after egg collection) On and off Sunday I would go down and get her and put her in the box---this after noon at 2:00 my husband and I got home from lunch, we went down to see if She had layed, low and behold to our amazement, there she was in the box and within 3-5 min of us being there we actually witnessed her lay her egg in the hung nesting box........yeah [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. hotspur

    hotspur Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Nice.
    My birds are free ranging, though.
    Does anyone have advice for coaxing my third hen into using the laying box?
     
  4. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    Somehow, I would block off the areas that she likes to lay in and construct an enclosed run so she doesn't have any other accesses except the nest boxes. All birds are different. What may work for one person my not for another. Good luck!!!
     
  5. Kesta

    Kesta Pie Crust Malfunction

    Jul 31, 2008
    houston tx
    put fake eggs in there or even golf balls you can also show her the other 2 hens laying in the box
     
  6. cyanne

    cyanne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Perhaps you could pen her up in the coop with the laying boxes temporarily, that way she gets in the habit of laying there? Also, perhaps you could put some fake eggs or golf balls in the boxes so she will know to go in there.

    Good luck!
     
  7. winekntrychicks

    winekntrychicks Pooper Peeper

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    Quote:I put rocks in the next same size and shape as eggs-took them out today [​IMG]
     
  8. winekntrychicks

    winekntrychicks Pooper Peeper

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    Quote:Hotspur, They want a place that's dark, private, safe and protected I know that much. It was very interesting watching my girl look for the perfect spot. She paced, went inside, then went out side, then back in again. Scratched in corners, etc.... the most interesting thing I observed was the rooster. He is a Bantam, the girls are all standard size. He actually tried to help her one day. Just the two of them were in the coop, (and me quietly in the corner) he hopped into the nest box (on the floor at that time) and she standing by the corner, he talked to her in chicken talk, scratched in the litter, sat down, all the while talking to her. She just stood there listening then all of a sudden ran out of the coop. She is the first one he mated with, that gave me a clue that she was about to start laying. Any way, my point is your pullet (hens after 1 year old) may need to be confined if you want her to only lay in one spot for some reason where you have placed the nest box she does not feel safe, that's why she is hiding. Do you have a coop? My rooster accidentally got out of the run one day and he freaked out. He ran back and forth the length of the run until I held the door open for him to run back in. [​IMG]
     
  9. winekntrychicks

    winekntrychicks Pooper Peeper

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    Quote:okay forgive me appearing stupid; Are you trying to get her to hatch eggs or just lay eggs in the box? If I were a young chicken and you put me in a box with 5 warm eggs I'd run too. If you are trying to hatch eggs, she is just not ready. Chickens are not stupid-she may not want the same things that you want.
     
  10. hotspur

    hotspur Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Dear winekntrychicks

    I hope this will answer your request for me to clarify my objective.

    Ultimately I'd like it if she would lay eggs in the nesting box, just as the other two pullets do. Primarily, for the foreseeable future I'm interested in eggs, as opposed to chick rearing.

    When I found her after she'd been missing over four hours yesterday, she had "flattened herself down" into a low profile on top of her two dozen eggs in her remote nest. She ran off the eggs when I approached very close, and made alarm calls until I left and she got back down on the eggs again. It appeared to me that she had suddenly gone into an egg hatching mode - possibly due to the arrival of the cooler weather.

    I had to get her into the coop for the night anyway. Combined with that, my immediate strategy for getting her to change her ways and start laying eggs in the nesting box instead of the remote nest was to put her in the nesting box overnight along with five of her own warm eggs. Not to hatch them, but to set her up in a safe space together with her own eggs (something like what she'd been doing all afternoon), temporarily until she would eventually adopt the nesting box as her preferred place for laying.

    I saw this morning that that strategy didn't work - as least not as quickly as I'd initially hoped. The problem remains of how to coax her into adopting the nesting box and not using the remote nest.

    Several other respondents have suggested confining her to the nesting box area; and others have suggested less forceful strategies such as putting rocks/balls that look similar to eggs in the nesting box. Actually, she doesn't go to look in the nesting box.

    I hope that clarifies it as you'd asked me to.
     

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