I have three lovely ladies (two BRs and one Australorp) who will be 17 weeks old tomorrow. Their combs are starting to redden and are growing much more in recent weeks, so I'm starting to wonder about laying. I've read a variety of posts and articles about when POL occurs. I was thinking that we might really be looking at next spring, given that cool weather is on the way shortly. I can tell that they have been exploring the nesting boxes, as they have left behind some little feathers here and there and seem to have ruffled in the bedding (just a bit of shavings right now in case they pooed). For whatever (lucky) reason, not one of them, my roo included, messes in the coop. They always go out, do their business and come back, so the floor and boxes are spotless, really. I would like to add in a bit of straw and somewhat form some nests, but am wondering what I can do to encourage them that the boxes are where the laying should happen. My only experience with laying hens comes from a historic site where I volunteer. They have no nesting boxes and the hens lay where ever, whenever, making egg collection a true chore...and messy if you miss one in tall grass! I have heard of people putting golf balls under broody hens and switching them out for either hatchlings or fertile eggs. Might creating some crude straws nests and setting in some golf balls show the girls that this is where the deed is done? The thought is that they might think another has laid an egg and want to follow suit (whenever they are ready), going back to the spot?