How to get hens to start using new nesting boxes?

Smiling Angel

Chickens R Us
7 Years
Mar 28, 2014
Central New Jersey
We have just finished modifying our coop by doubling the size and adding a run in the back. Our small flock of three has been increased by adding eight pullets, who are now eleven weeks old and we just put them all in the new coop together last week. Among other improvements, we put five nesting boxes on the main level, along one side. Only one of our three hens is laying in there, however. Is there any way to encourage the other two ladies to move to the nesting boxes? These two are continuing to lay in the upper loft portion of the coop. We keep putting bricks in the old nesting area, but to no avail. They just keep moving next to the bricks. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get them to use the nesting boxes? We have ceramic eggs, which we have put in each box, but, so far, no luck. Thanks in advance!
Salting the new nests with fake eggs is the best way to call attention to them. If you can block off all access to the nests you don't want used, they will use the new nests sooner. Chickens abhor change, with the exception of egg-laying spots. They rather enjoy trying out new nesting spots, especially if they see an egg already in it.

This is a very temporary problem and it should be resolved in a proverbial blink of the eye.
Thanks for your suggestions. We have already put eggs in the new nesting boxes, and one of the three has started using them.

The coop is 8' X 8', and there is what I am calling a 'loft' all along the back wall of the coop, about four feet above the coop floor. The whole coop was renovated, but in it's original form, the roosting and nesting area were in this upper part, but it used to be more enclosed, and now it is open, as you can see in the picture. In this picture, you are looking at five out of eight of our 11 week old pullets. They spend quite a bit of time up there to get away from the older girls, so there is no way at all to close it off.

We will just have to be more stubborn than our two hens, I guess. I will let you know how things are coming along.

I can't blame them for not wanting to move their nest. It looks like the perfect spot for a private nest
I can't blame them for not wanting to move their nest. It looks like the perfect spot for a private nest
Lol...well, I'm not sure if this was a good idea or not, since the point was for them to use the nesting boxes on the floor of the coop, but we decided to move just one box up into the left hand corner of our 'loft'. Within minutes, one of our hens made herself comfortable and layed her egg there. If nothing else, we're hoping the eight littles will use the other nesting boxes when they start laying.
We were wondering if there is some way we could enclose the other boxes a bit more so that they have more privacy? I will snap a picture of the boxes next time I am outside and see if any of you have be continued...
Some people attach curtains if that's what you're talking about by privacy. Or if you're looking for box modifications I'd be glad to try and help after you've posted pictures.
Thank you! While we really wanted the nesting boxes extending out from the side of the coop, our builder, my daughter-in-law's father, didn't have enough building expertise to do this, so the boxes are pretty much out in the open. You may not be able to see the hardware cloth behind the boxes
From the hens' point of view, I can see why they want to continue laying 'upstairs'.
Here are the pictures:

These are the nesting boxes on the coop floor. You can see the space in the corner where I removed one. The picture on the right has the nesting box in the left hand corner of the 'loft'. The bricks we used to try to keep the girls from laying up there need to be removed. We can't put a row of boxes up there because there is a door in the center there which leads out to their run. As you can see, little has been painted yet. Thanks for any suggestions you may have!
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Get the boxes up off the floor a foot or two and they will probably adapt to them easier. They just like to go up to a nest.
My girls won't use their boxes either. They kick all the hay out and make nests on the ground under the hen house. I have seen them dig a hole in the dirt and sleep out in the run before too. How do I get them to sleep in their house.

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