how to discourage sleeping in nest box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by prepare2xl, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. prepare2xl

    prepare2xl Hatching

    Aug 12, 2010
    We are first time chicken owners. I think we went wrong in mounting the nest box when the pullets were too young to have a desire to nest. Now they are accustomed to sleeping (and pooping) there. The oldest hen is ~ 20 weeks, so she could be ready to begin laying soon. I would prefer the eggs be protected from both trampling and fouling.

    I looked on the forum listings for at least 8 pages. I only saw one thread on this topic. It suggested blocking the entrance to the nest box, which I will certainly do today. Do I just close it at night and open it again during the day? But what about hens who might want access in the early morning hours? I don't want to encourage egg laying in the roosting area.

    Thanks for the advice.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    If you do block your nest box, do so only at night. You are correct in that you want them to learn to lay in the nest, not somewhere else or you have another bad habit to try to break. If you decide to go this route, I suggest unblocking the nests after they have gone to bed or first thing in the morning before they wake up. Chickens cannot see in the dark. If your coop is dark and they cannot see to move after they go to sleep, they will not go back to the nests.

    Are your roosts clearly higher than your nest boxes? Most chickens instinctively roost as high as they can. Chickens are creatures of habit and once they get into the habit of something, it is a little hard top break them. If they are in the habit of roosting in the nest boxes, they may be relunctant to change, even if the roosts are made higher. First way to chance their habits, make sure the roosts are the highest thing they can get to for roosting.

    If your roosts are higher than your nest boxes, I suggest going out after they have gone to bed and using as little light and commotion as possible, move them from the nest and set them on the roosts. For this to work, the coop needs to be too dark for them to be able to find their way back to the nests after you move them. If you have lights inside, turn them off. If you have a light shining in through a window, cover the window. Use a small dim flashlight to move them. After doing this a few nights, they should get the message. You may notice a theme of them not being able to see in the dark as part of your strategy.

    Good luck!
  3. Chickendummy

    Chickendummy In the Brooder

    Apr 28, 2010
    I am a first time chicken owner too. I researched this issue on BYC before I bought my girls, 3 NH reds. Before they go in at night, I place a board in front of the nest boxes. Two of the girls back right up to it to sleep. If I forget to put it there, they sleep (and poop) in the nest box. I have what would be considered a mini-coop it has two nest boxes. I made sure the roost was the highest thing in the coop and so far only one of the hens uses it regularly. They all seem to favor laying in one particular side of the coop. I get up after they do, so sometimes they lay outside of the nest box when the board hasn't been removed. Not really a big deal since the entire coop is lined with straw. When the board isn't there they use the nest box.

    I've probably made some mistakes, but since I'm new, I don't know. No deaths yet. I did save my girls twice from mite infestations, haven't seen any for a month or more. BYC has been an excellent resource. There are other online resources too.

    All the best,


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