Help with multiple issues

jbofky

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 22, 2014
22
0
25
Over a year ago, I finished our 8x12 mobile coop. I made 6 rollout nesting boxes with milk crates and paint pans for the 19 hens. Everything was fine for a while but we'd find an egg outside underneath the coop once in a while. No big deal. Then we integrated about 45 pullets(we've sold 30 of them now)a while back and swapped them from free ranging to electric netting about the same time. Somewhere along the line they slowly quit laying in the nesting boxes, a couple of hens went broody, and now they're eating eggs. I think they're only eating the ones that get broken but we noticed a few days ago that some will peck at them in the basket. Today I got one egg from the boxes, 11 under the coop and two just laying out on the ground in plain view.

They only thing that has changed with feed is that there's some grower in there that's closer to the ground to make it harder for the hens to eat. I'm using one 164' section of netting but let them out within a couple of hours of sunrise. I thought about adding curtains over the nesting boxes. This may help but I'm afraid the problem is too serious for that to cure. Please help, these things are driving me crazy!
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Sep 29, 2014
7,682
22,221
941
New Zealand
Integrating the new ones would've stressed everyone out so that could be why there was some confusion as to where to lay eggs. Broodies taking over nestboxes can cause the other birds to lay elsewhere too. Chickens like to lay in a communal nest so they will copy each other! I had 3 broody bantams so the others laid out in the corner of the run. I didn't realise until our silkie went broody on that nest! I had to rescue her one night when she was getting soaked by the driving rain.

You could put fake eggs in your nestboxes (where they can't roll away) but your broodies will probably claim them. You could try adding some temporary nests to your coop and putting their eggs there whenever you find them to try and change their habit. Like I said, they like to lay where others have laid so hopefully they'll get the idea. But your broodies will probably steal some for their nests! They are sneaky.
 

jbofky

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 22, 2014
22
0
25
You're right about the broodies. They were getting all of the eggs from the bottom of the paint pan. So they had to pull them up the incline and over the lip of a very thick nest pad while holding onto all of the others. Luckily we put them in a cage and broke them a couple of months ago. Do you think the curtains might help? You mentioned communal nesting boxes. Do you think a larger nest box like the Best Nesting Box would be more inviting for them?
https://bestnestbox.com/collections/all-of-our-products?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=**LP Core - B&utm_term=roll out nesting box&utm_content=Roll Out Chicken Nest Box
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,351
129,616
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Crowding and integration stress.
I'd maybe add a few more nests and rig some fake eggs somehow.

How old are the pullets?
Might want to keep them separate but adjacent until the hens get back to laying.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Sep 29, 2014
7,682
22,221
941
New Zealand
I've never tried curtains so I can't advise you there. Just be aware adding anything new will require an adjustment period! We all know what they are like!

I think if you keep some fake eggs (or golf balls) in your nestboxes it will make them think that's the latest place to lay and everyone will start copying. Move any eggs you find in the run as soon as possible.

My little bantam coop has no nestboxes so they make a nest in the straw wherever they please (the first layer of the day chooses a spot and everyone else copies). Just means I have to keep it clean and tidy in there. If ever I have broodies in my big coop in the nestboxes the other hens often choose to lay in a far corner of the coop, so I add a temporary nest there.

Broodies can carry eggs under their wings. They are nothing if not determined! I wish I could indulge mine.
 

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