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getting hens to lay in nesting boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by katenboo, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. katenboo

    katenboo Hatching

    Jul 26, 2011
    new to this very helpful forum. I have four pullets, about 22 weeks old. Two of them have started laying, but they both lay on the floor of the coop (pine shavings) instead of in the nesting boxes. the boxes are lined with straw, have fake eggs in, and have 'curtains' to help make them darker (coop is painted white inside so it's pretty bright). A couple of eggs have been cracked since they scratch away the shavings before they lay and they are cracking when they hit the wood floor.
    Boxes are the right size (13x12x15) and about 18" off the floor. They have a perch in the front to land on before entering.
    Anything else I can try to get them to use the boxes, or will they just 'get it' eventually? I've run out of ideas... thanks so much.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you joined us! [​IMG]

    There are a couple of different possible situations. Sometimes when they first start to lay, the egg seems to drop wherever they are. They seem to not have control over egg laying or don't understand what is going on. The egg just falls out. Usually, they learn what is going on fairly quickly and start to look for a safe hiding place to lay the eggs. Usually. I have had a few that took a while to get over this phase, especially one that kept laying while on the roost.

    The other situation is where they have learned control of the process and choose to lay on the floor or somewhere other than the nest boxes. Who knows why they choose to do that? Just because most chickens prefer certain things in a nest does not mean all those birdbrains prefer the same things. If they are laying in the same spot every time and are scratching out a nest, they are doing it deliberately.

    It is possible they will eventually move to a nest box, but I wouldn't hold my breath. I've seen different things recommended on this forum to try, like block off where they are laying, but that did not work. They just moved next to what I put there. The only way I have been successful has been to catch one when she is on her nest on the floor and lock her in the nest box until she lays her egg. I've done this three different times. Two of the hens laid the egg within a half hour of me putting them in the nest box and laid there ever after. The other one took over three hours the first day and about the same time the second day. But after the second straight day of locking her in the nest box when she settled down to lay, she also started laying in the nest box. That hen was one that would hog the nest for a couple of hours every time she laid an egg.

    Good luck! And again, [​IMG]
  3. breezychick

    breezychick In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2011
    Mine just started laying and she lays all over the run and sometimes in the nest box. I have the fake eggs and the whole thing too. I just
    think she may not know yet when the egg is coming? Either way, Im just happy to have an egg!
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Don't have much to add to Ridgerunners post other than once you get one laying in the box, most hens will follow and start laying there. With raising all different ages in my coop, I rarely have pullets that don't make it into the nest within a week of laying.
  5. mystang89

    mystang89 Songster

    Jul 12, 2011
    Welcome to the forum. I had the same problem with my chickens when I first got them. I was told to put golf balls in their nesting boxes. I put 2 balls in each box and they started laying there. I also picked one up and placed him inside the box to let him know what was there as well. That now seems to be where they lay eggs....when they decide to grace me with eggs. Stingy leghorns.
  6. spiffwilkie

    spiffwilkie Songster

    Mar 22, 2011
    Memphis, TN
    My chicken didn't seem to care about the fake eggs. She layed in the corner of the coop in the shavings (we do deep litter, though, so the egg was protected). I took one of her eggs and put it in the nesting box. Now she always lays there.
  7. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    My pullet that laid her first egg yesterday, kicked around in two different nest boxes - kicking out the fake egg in one of them and covering it up in the other one. Then she laid her egg in the pine shavings on the floor. Hopefully her second egg will be in one of the nest boxes.

  8. halfwaynowhere

    halfwaynowhere Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    La Puente, CA
    My leghorn started laying 5 days ago. The first egg was laid on the wire in the coop (a rabbit hutch type with wire on one side and a "nesting" area on the other, with a door opening to an enclosed run). Each egg since has been laid in the run. Her roommate is my retired Australorp, so no eggs from her. I'm tired of getting on my hands and knees and crawling in to retrieve eggs!
  9. katenboo

    katenboo Hatching

    Jul 26, 2011
    Quote:thanks very much for the suggestions. Since the eggs are so small right now, I'm hoping it's the first option, they just don't realise what's going on. Is it also possible that a hen would lay two strong-shelled eggs then lay one which is all squidgy? the new squidgy one is probably from another hen I'm guessing.
    thanks again!

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