Hens scratch all hay out of nesting boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HarriscoopAZ, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. HarriscoopAZ

    HarriscoopAZ New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    My 2 hens have a sizable coop that has 2 nice nesting boxes attached. They are 16 weeks old. Every time I change out their bedding inside the coop house and nesting boxes they scratch it all away until the boxes are empty. They also poop in the boxes. Will they lay there without hay? is this a common behavior?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    You might try raising the lip on the nest boxes so they have trouble raking the bedding out. That worked for me.

    Are they sleeping in the nest boxes? They poop a lot when they sleep. If them sleeping in there is the problem, you need to make sure the roosts are higher than the nest boxes. Most chickens tend to sleep as high as they can.

    There are several different possibilities as to what might be going on, but I think these are the most common.
     
  3. HarriscoopAZ

    HarriscoopAZ New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2012
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    Good idea on raising on the lip in front of the boxes. I'll try that. Their perch is higher than the boxes but is pretty close to them inside the house.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If they are sleeping in the nests, you can try moving them from the nest to the roost at night. Do this with as little light as possible and make sure it is too dark for them to return to the nests after you do this and leave. They should get the message after a few nights, though some are more stubborn than others.

    Another possibility. Are they sleeping on the roosts but projecting at night when they relieve themselves? You may need to create a block or maybe move the roosts further away.
     
  5. K-12 Chickens

    K-12 Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When my hens were pullets, scratching straw out of the nest boxes was a popular pastime until they started laying. The reason your pullets are scratching in the straw(or hay)is probably because they want the seeds and other edible things from it. They also are probably pooping in the boxes as they scratch along. If your pullets aren't showing signs of laying behavior, there really isn't any need to put bedding in the nest boxes.
    But if you do need bedding in your nest boxes, try putting wood shavings(like you use for the bedding in the coop)in the nest boxes. It may be less tempting because there is nothing to eat out of it. I had wood shavings in my three nest boxes for a quite a while and my hens never minded it. [​IMG]
     
  6. BroosterSpringsteen

    BroosterSpringsteen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with K-12. My hens did this all the time when they were pullets. I was so excited for them to lay, that it really annoyed me that they insisted on kicking out all the hay and pooping all over the box. But as soon as they started laying...no more poo. They still kick the hay some though. I added a higher lip to mine when they started kicking the eggs out with the hay.

    I also agree that wood shavings are better...I use pine. But my chickens still sometimes eat the pine shavings. I have no idea why.[​IMG]
     
  7. HarriscoopAZ

    HarriscoopAZ New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Well, it obviously doesn't matter with my little sweet hens because one of them layed her first egg today. Right in the nesting box without any straw. LOL! I plan to clean out the coop tonight and put fresh straw/hay in until we run out. I might try the shavings after that. She didn't seem to care today. I have two toddler girls and this was as exciting as when they took their first steps :) So happy today.
     
  8. K-12 Chickens

    K-12 Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Congrats!! Soon, you will probably not have to worry about empty nest boxes no more! [​IMG]
     
  9. poonam

    poonam Out Of The Brooder

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    Oakland, CA
    my easter egger does a violent scratching routine in the nest box daily. she throws all the wood shavings out, and lays in an empty-ish box.

    i thought it was odd too, but that seems to be her way.
     
  10. pheonixstar15a

    pheonixstar15a Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2010
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    I guess it is just a chicken thing, i have the same problems, but they dont seem to care if there is any hay or bedding in their nests when they lay, only problem is they are more likely to break the eggs with out a cushion or bedding in the nest.
     

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