Half my hens sleeping in nesting boxes

Eggstravert

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2016
23
7
47
Central PA
Apologies for the poor photo quality, i had to take it in the dark with a cell phone, but it should give you the idea. We have these old metal nesting boxes we hung on the wall for them. About half them sleep on the perch at the front of the boxes, the others like to climb into the boxes to sleep. Problem is they poop in them. They are only 4 months old so aren't laying yet so I haven't put straw in the boxes or anything yet.

What should I do to discourage this behavior and get them to use the boxes just for laying?

nbNCdMY.jpg
 

Eggstravert

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2016
23
7
47
Central PA
Where are your roosts?

Can you not see them in the photo? There are two wooden bars, one for the top row, one for the bottom row. See the big yellow hen on the left? She's on the top bar in the photo. They also have a tree branch I ran along one wall of the coop for them, sometimes they'll roost on that during the day for a nap, but at night they all huddle together like this
 

kgilmore1

Songster
Mar 26, 2017
113
80
141
I'm having this problem too. We put up a 2x4 and almost all are sleeping on it now. There's a couple that still like the nesting box, but I'm hoping they change over soon since the majority have started roosting
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,546
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Your roosts need to be higher than your nestboxes, the roost in front of the boxes is only for easy access to the nests and is not for roosting. I agree a 2x4 makes the best roosts. Make sure they can get up on them easily as well. Comfortable properly placed roosts will keep most chickens out of the nestboxes for sleeping.
 

Eggstravert

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2016
23
7
47
Central PA
Your roosts need to be higher than your nestboxes, the roost in front of the boxes is only for easy access to the nests and is not for roosting. I agree a 2x4 makes the best roosts. Make sure they can get up on them easily as well. Comfortable properly placed roosts will keep most chickens out of the nestboxes for sleeping.

OK gotcha, I assumed the front parts WERE the roosts but that actually makes more sense, I'll rig up a 2x4 higher then. Do they have any problem if it's located by a window do you think?
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
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CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
My roosts are in front of one of the windows. They all fight for the "window view". It's also a good idea to put the 2 x 4 on the flat, with the wide side up. Helps them to keep their feet warm in the winter. I like to place my roost 15" from the wall. It prevents poo spatters on the wall, and also helps keep them from marring the beauty of their tail feathers by having the feathers touch the wall. Ideal is 2.5 ' to 3.5' above floor, at least 18" below ceiling. If you do multiple roosts, space them 15" apart.
 

iml8agn

In the Brooder
Mar 30, 2017
28
7
49
I have the same problem. I have 5, 13-week old hens, and most of them pig pile in the one or two nesting boxes. I was told this is a bad habit so I used some netting to keep them out of them while they sleep and now they are on the coop floor in a big pile. There are roosting bars in the coop but they are not that high. It is a small store bought coop and not sure I can rig up another bar higher. What can I do to stop this? Is it too late to break this habit?
 

Eggstravert

In the Brooder
Apr 20, 2016
23
7
47
Central PA
OK took your advice and built a nice roost with 3 'steps' at different levels between about 14 inches and 42 inches. They checked it out and climbed on it but like iml8agn said they still sleep in the boxes when it comes time for sleep -lol

I've got some netting I'm going to cover them up like you said and see if they'll take to the roosts
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,732
130,708
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
OK took your advice and built a nice roost with 3 'steps' at different levels between about 14 inches and 42 inches. They checked it out and climbed on it but like iml8agn said they still sleep in the boxes when it comes time for sleep -lol

I've got some netting I'm going to cover them up like you said and see if they'll take to the roosts
Do all the birds fit on the highest roost?? See OHLD's post quoted below.
The lower ones won't keep them out of the nests or off the nest perch.
On some of those metal nests, the perches fold up to block access to the nests.

Your roosts need to be higher than your nestboxes, the roost in front of the boxes is only for easy access to the nests and is not for roosting. I agree a 2x4 makes the best roosts. Make sure they can get up on them easily as well. Comfortable properly placed roosts will keep most chickens out of the nestboxes for sleeping.
 

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