Hens won't use upper nest boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HarmonyHen, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. HarmonyHen

    HarmonyHen Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 14, 2012
    Hi all, I have 10 hens, 4 of which are over a year old and 6 are about 24 weeks old. When my first batch of hens began laying, I only had some plastic bin nesting boxes on the floor of the coop. These worked great and they hens always used them. Then my husband decided to build some nesting boxes into the coop, which are very nice, but the hens really don't use them...I'm thinking they are too high off the ground - about 4 feet. Maybe once every other month they'll use one.

    Now, since the new hens have begun to lay, I suspect that a few of my older hens may be laying elsewhere. They all FR during the day, though they have free access to the coop at all times for laying. With the 4 hens, I used to get 2-4 eggs per day. Now, I'm getting 3-5 eggs per day, once in a great while, 6. It seems like I should be getting more eggs per day with 10 laying-age hens, though perhaps not. Anyway, I'm concerned that some of the hens are laying elsewhere as the plastic bin nests (their favorite) are frequently occupied and they don't feel compelled to try the upper boxes.

    Should I try removing the plastic bin nest boxes altogether to try to force them to use the upper boxes? Add a ladder so they can access the upper boxes more easily (they are at the same high or lower than the roosts, which they have no problem getting to)? I'm open to suggestions! Thanks!
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Chickens never seem to appreciate what we do for them eh? My hens (5 layers) insist on using one nest box only, so there's always a queue! This particular nest box is on a shelf around 5ft off the ground.

    Id leave the ground based nest boxes alone and may be consider lowering the height of the other nest boxes to around 2ft and see if that makes a difference. If you move the ground based nest boxes, be prepared for a daily egg hunt around your property!

    All the best
  3. Mc620

    Mc620 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 25, 2015
    Woolwich Maine
    Maybe add some more plastic ones if thats what they enjoy
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Is there a perch 6-8" in front of the nest for them to land on before entering the nest?
    Can you post a pic?
  5. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2013
    Atlanta, Georgia

    We have a ladder going up to the penthouse boxes [​IMG]

    As of right now, we only have one hen that will use the top ones (usually the top right one)...everybody else uses the lower two.

    I agree with Aart - if it's 4 feet off the ground they'll need some kind of perch to land on before going into the boxes (or a ladder)
  6. LeiaLayers5

    LeiaLayers5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2015
    Suffolk VA
    My Coop
    Not sure if this would help or not, but recently we had a chicken start laying and out of curiosity, I moved our older chickens eggs into the upper box to see if that would influence where she laid hers. Normally wherever they lay she also lays hers. Later that day i checked with the other eggs i had moved up there and she had laid in the upper box where i had placed those. Its interesting to see she is taking her cues from them. Maybe if you move some of yours into the upper boxes temporarily during the day they would take the hint and start using it more?
  7. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    When our hens first started laying they wouldn't use the nest boxes, we changed the 2" dowel perch in front of the boxes to a 1" x 4" (4" side up) and they started using them right away. It seems they like something solid to stand on before stepping into the boxes.

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