HELP Some Hens are not using nest boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Joyryder, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Joyryder

    Joyryder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My hens have just started laying a month. They were using their boxes. There are 20 boxes for 23 hens. When 9 were laying, I found a couple of eggs on the floor and a couple on the poop board. Okay I put in plastic eggs in the nest boxes. Okay they've been kicking the plastic ones out of the boxes, but I still get 2 or 3 a day in the wrong place. Then yesterday I found 6 eggs laid outside under the coop. The coop is built on a hill. I had to crawl under to get the eggs. One egg rolled out and broke open, They were fighting over it. I don't know why they changed their laying place. Any ideas how to get them back to laying in the boxes?
     
  2. kindir

    kindir Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been having a similar issue with my Sultans. I didn't have a nest box at first, then once they started laying they were kicking the eggs out of the coop so I put in a nest box. I see they've been in there scratching around, but nope, they still won't use it. I then added 3 cochins to the mix who ARE used to nest boxes and voila, ONE of the sultans used the nest box! Still waiting on the other Sultan hen to figure it out. She's a bit slow... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2009
  3. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

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    I have one marans in my blue olive egger pen that lays in the dirt too. Gah! Maybe the other ones bully her out of the box, but she lays here, there, everywhere! I think she's just careless is all.
     
  4. isabrownmom

    isabrownmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] I've had my 6 Isa browns for since June and they started laying right away in the 2 nest boxes, no problems. Now, lately I am finding an egg a day in the corner of the coop on the floor. I'm pretty sure it is from my hen, Nervous Nellie, as she ranks lowest on the pecking order, the smallest hen, and the eggs look the same and are smallest of all the eggs I collect. She always stays away from the other 5 hens and I think she just gets tired of fighting for the nesting box! Poor thing!!
     
  5. sillyaboutchickens

    sillyaboutchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    It sounds like you have plenty of nesting boxes, but I have read chickens may develop a preference for a certain spot and will wait in line to use that box. Do you think all 23 chickens want the same box(es) and they just can't wait? Also, do you think it could be the material in the nesting boxes that is causing a problem? Our chickens were laying on the floor and in a brown bag of wood chips. I took the wood chip bag out of the coop and increased the material in the nesting boxes. I put a (just one) plastic egg into the nesting boxes and put the chickens on the bar in front of the roosting boxes. They did not seem very interested, but when one of them started singing her "egg song" the next morning, I put her back into the coop and she figured out the nesting boxes were the place to go and lay.

    Perhaps adding a "lip" to the front of the nesting boxes would keep the chickens from kicking eggs out.

    Chickens can be so picky! Good luck figuring it out.
     
  6. Joyryder

    Joyryder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Luckily, they only kick out the plastic eggs. There were 3 of them using one box in particular. Inside on the floor wouldn't be so bad, but only 1 does that. I'm thinking of screening under the coop off, unti they get their act together!
     
  7. sillyaboutchickens

    sillyaboutchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Your chickens sound smart - to only kick out the plastic eggs. Mine think the plastic egg is a real egg and will sit on it and turn it. It is funny to watch. They only do it when they are laying, but they treat it so gently and caringly. My response to my husband if he asks about eggs in the morning is often "No eggs yet, but they are trying to hatch the plastic egg or they're laying now".

    I think your idea of closing off their preferred spot under the coop is a good one.
     
  8. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would try to remove their access to any 'cozy egg laying spots' such as under your coop, if only for a while (a month?), and every day or other day, take each one and gently put them in the nesting box in the morning so they remember that this is a better option. This may mean restricting their access to free ranging for a while but it may be worth it.
    Good luck!
     
  9. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Have you tried to close them in their coop for a couple of days or so and see how it goes?
     
  10. Joyryder

    Joyryder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the help. They're starting to use the nest boxes more, but only in 1 coop. There are 2 coops. 11 out of 12 hens sleep in their coop but lay their eggs in the other coop. They were also the last to lay. So I guess they're following an example. I put a lip to the front of the boxes and increased the shavings. I still have to think of a way to close off the bottom of the coop. 3 sides are closed off. But the front is about 25 feet long. Its the only place to stay dry in the rain. They also take their dust baths there.

    I hate to close them in. Thy try breaking the pop door down just waiting to get out in the morning.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009

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