How long to "imprint" proper place to lay?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 22, 2009
St. Joseph County, IN
My girls are about 5.5 months old, and my Wyandotte just started laying this week (nothing yet from the 3 others...). I have nest boxes all set up, but she is using the opposite corner of the coop where she made a "nest" in the pine shavings. This doesn't bother me. But I was curious how long she needed to use that spot before it was set in her mind that that is THE SPOT to lay eggs? DH accidentally let the girls out early on day #2 of known laying, and the Wyandotte didn't return home to lay. It doesn't help that she seems to be the lowest in the pecking order; everyone follows the buff Orpington, so I'm not sure she'll come back if everyone else is out ranging.

Since she lays around 10:30ish, should I just plan on keeping them all shut in til about 11?
For the first 5 days mine layed, they did so in a spot that sounds very like yours, across the coop from the nests, and in the corner.
Once the first one figured out the nesting boxes, the rest all followed.
From Day 6, on, they have all layed in a nest, except a tiny oops First effort egg, about the size of a quail egg. I'm not sure she even knew she layed it!
Besides that, it seems a matter of Monkey See- Monkey Do.
I also have golf balls in the boxes, which seems to have encouraged laying in the right place. Many people use "fake egg decoys" and have good success.

Best of luck!
Very few chickens lay their egg at the same time every day. It takes approximately 26 hours to produce an egg on average. So the time will change a bit later every day until dark, then will start over early in the morning. Keeping them locked up until a certain time won't help unless you open up later & later each day. She will get the nest boxes figured out pretty quickly, especially if you help her with fake eggs or golf balls.
Ditto on the golf balls, they have worked well for mine. They all prefer the nest with two golf balls instead of one, they like to reach under with their beak and roll them around when they're getting ready to lay - seems to get them in the mood

My first egg was in the nest box, then there were a few floor eggs while the others figured it out. Is your chicken tame enough that you could go out and help her when she's trying to lay in the corner? When I was getting floor eggs I found one of my Speckled Sussex in the corner throwing shavings over her back, I picked her up and put her up by the nesting boxes and she climbed right in - we haven't had a floor egg since. You might try, since she's the first layer and the others will probably follow her example.

ETA: I think some chickens do have a shorter cycle than 26 hours - I have 2 6-month-old red stars that lay at the same time every single day, like clockwork. Those poor girls never take a break!
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