Hens suddenly snubbing the nest boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Calomel, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Calomel

    Calomel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2012
    Omaha, Nebraska
    We have 5 hens, 2 of which are laying. Our lead hen has been laying reliably in the nest box all summer with no issues and the second girl just started laying within the last couple of weeks. The problem we're having is that with the change in weather, the girls have started kicking all the straw out of their nest boxes into the center of the coop floor, and making their nest there. I put a retaining board up in front of the boxes to prevent that, but they are determined to redecorate. Does anyone have an idea for why they might be doing this? What can I change so they go back to the boxes? I'm afraid that if the eggs are left out, they will get pecked out of chicken curiosity, broken and eaten.

    An early picture of the interior. Since this picture was taken, the roost was moved.
    [​IMG]

    I've installed a 1x3 to keep the straw in, and a divider to make 2 boxes out of the one big one. Each nest is about 1' square.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you tried putting a fake egg in the nest to encourage them to lay there? Many people use golf balls.
     
  3. Calomel

    Calomel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2012
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Yep, there's a golf ball in each nest. They have been there since our eldestt started laying.
     
  4. MyPetNugget

    MyPetNugget Enjoying the cold!!!

    Are they ALL laying on the floor? Because sometimes a hen will guard all the nest boxes for herself for some reason. Just a thought.
     
  5. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some people confine them to the nest boxes by stapling some chicken wire around the nest box until they lay, and then take them out and hope they go back to normal.
    Sadly, your nest boxes are BIGGER than factory farmed nest boxes so the chickens wouldn't have too little space to SURVIVE. Still, that always seemed too harsh a solution.

    Just because a lot of hens can be corrected from this behavior, doesn't mean they all can. Just to name a few, a blogger has a hen named Hermione who finds the most obscure places to hide her eggs - it's a daily treasure hunt for the poor owner of that hen.
    A person on BYC has a hen named Frou-Frou who has never once laid her egg in the nesting boxes - but always laid it in the same corner of her coop.

    You could try adding lots of cushy bedding to the nest boxes and almost no bedding to the floor - or bedding that chickens don't like to nest on. I think you have sand though which is really useful for that...
     
  6. Calomel

    Calomel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2012
    Omaha, Nebraska
    No, I think it's just the younger hen, getting in there and pulling out all the bedding to lay on the floor. But I'm pretty sure it isn't Goldie, the lead hen. She usually gets in there, gets her business done and leaves. She's a very practical RSL, but you might be on to something. She's a very jealous girl of anything she considers "hers". Treats, the water bucket, even me she will guard jealously from the others. She might be bullying the younger pullets out of the boxes because that's been "her space" for so long.

    I use shavings in the coop and sand in the run. I did try adding more bedding to the nests and leaving the floor of the coop thin of shavings. They decided I must have lost my human mind and "fixed" it by kicking out all the straw and making a new nest in the middle of the floor.[​IMG]
     
  7. fosterson

    fosterson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome to chicken logic 101.

    I have 5 nest boxes for 11 hens. The rooster sleeps in one of them, two more get ignored, one gets all its bedding thrown out regularly, and the middle box, the 'best' one, I sometimes find 5 hens in at once...and it's only about 13" x 13" x 15".
     
  8. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    *Chuckles.* First lesson : there is no such thing as chicken logic, there is only what they think is best... [​IMG]

    As much as we pass around our secrets, I don't believe there will ever be an answer to every question regarding the behaviors of our girls. They lay where they like to lay, eat what they want to eat (and even if they don't try it, just "decide" they don't like it), do what they want to do, and control you (whether you wanna admit it or not).

    Good luck... and if you're worried about egg eating, you could keep high alert - if you see a case, quickly blow out an egg and fill with mustard. The chicken will eat that egg - and never again will she try it. Don't worry about them going bad, eggs from chickens like ours don't really go bad very quickly. I believe they keep four weeks at room temperature.
     
  9. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    Quote: [​IMG] So true!

    Quote: Probably a lot longer than this. I understand that in Europe, eggs are stored and sold at room temperature. They do keep longer if refrigerated, though.

    You can test an egg if you're not sure by putting it in a glass of cold water. If it floats, toss it. If it sinks, it should be fine. (Of course, if you crack it and it's bad, there will be no doubt it's bad!)
     

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