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How do I get my hens to stop sleeping in the nests?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BackyardDove, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2014
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    I have this metal, two nest chicken nesting box, like the one pictured here. Only, not double stacked and it's only two nests next to each other, not five.

    [​IMG]
    I got this kind of a chicken nesting box because it has a removable bottom to make cleaning easier and it's big enough to where not even my big standard size girls have issues being comfortable in it. However, my Silkie hens have gotten the idea that they must sleep in these boxes, even if they don't have chicks/have chicks old enough to not need to be in a nest. I've put in perches around their area, and I've seen them use it during the day, but they insist on sleeping in the nests at night. I've tried to curve this behavior before by blocking the entrance to the nests before dusk, but as soon as I start having success with them using their perches, one of them goes broody and they all, even the ones not broody, abandon the perches for the nests. I'm really tired of constantly cleaning these nests since I have three hens, six 8 week old babies, and three 2 week old babies all trying to cram into two nests and all pooping in these nests. The nests are on the ground, since I'm afraid the small babies won't know how to get back to the nest if the nests are up on the wall.

    Is there any way to convince them to sleep on the perches? Do I have to get new nesting boxes because, for some reason, they prefer these nests a bit too much?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    How high are your roosts, sometimes silkies can't get up to the roosts easily and will choose the nestboxes because they are lower and of course it's warmer to sit in a nest box. Silkies like to do things their own way.
     
  3. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2014
    Central Texas
    The roosts aren't the issue. They regularly jump onto them during the day with ease and they're no more than a foot off the ground. Due to their type of feathers, Silkies can't fly all that well, so I make sure everything is low to the ground. My other silkies, however, prefer roosts that are at least 2 feet above the ground, but no more than three. But these girls seem to have no interest in sleeping in/on anything but the nest boxes, no matter the perch or how high/low it is.
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd remove the nests from the ground, and secure them to the wall about 2-3ft off the floor. Then go back to blocking them off at night again. If your Silkies decide to go broody, they can do it on the floor (or they may still hop right into the nests).

    My nests for my Silkies and Sizzles are about 3.5ft off the floor. Most of them hop up there to use them, but I do have a couple of girls who lay in a corner of the coop on the ground (but they always have, even when they've had access to nests directly on the floor, weirdos). Most of them use the roosts at night (ladder roost, lowest rung is about 6", highest is about 4.5'). Everybody else makes a cuddle puddle on the floor. I do let my hens brood in the nests, but once the chicks hatch and momma takes them out of the box, thats it, they stay on the floor. Since the chicks can't fly up to the nests, the hen stays with them, and they never get into the habit of sleeping and pooping in them. Occasionally older chicks like to try to roost on the bars outside the nests, but I remove them and they move on to the big roost.

    Good luck!
     
  5. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2014
    Central Texas
    I'll try lifting the nests off of the ground, thank you! Though I probably won't lift them more than two feet, I had a hard enough time teaching them how to jump onto the roosts that are only a foot off the ground. I suppose I'm just scared they will nest on the ground and ants will get to them(I have had this happen before, ruined an entire hatch), or that mom will still try to sleep in the box, even if her babies can't fly up to it. I tend to have the worst luck when trying something new. If something bad might happen, it probably will happen with me.
     

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