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How to make hens use the nesting boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LegginMF12, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. LegginMF12

    LegginMF12 Songster

    May 2, 2011
    Yucca Valley
    I just did a post a week or so ago about one determined hen. Well she now has the other 2 that are laying using the chair on the front porch.[​IMG] They used to lay in the nesting boxes. So today I put the chair on the porch away (the big guy wouldn't give up his chair) and moved a nesting box to the front porch. I didn't get one egg today! I usually get 2 -3 a day. I have 5 hens of which I know for a fact that 3 are laying. (I have that sneaking suspicion that I have a secret cache somewhere in the yard). If I leave them in the coop for a week or so without letting them free range during the day will they start using the nesting boxes again? How long do I need to keep them in the coop to make the boxes a habit?
    They are Buff Orpingtons and approx 23 weeks old.

  2. ChickyChickyBaby

    ChickyChickyBaby Barefoot Bantams

    Quote:Moving the nest box would just cause the hens to move! With mine, if anything gets changed, it will also cause them to skip laying for a day or two.

    I would keep them in a coop for 3 days at least - maybe more. I have some that I let out to free range & they will lay anywhere they want, including the middle of the yard. But I do have a few that will go back into the run & coop and lay there.

    Watch where you step! [​IMG]
  3. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Songster

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I have to lock up my girls too. I got two eggs in two days from this one dominique. Problem is, I have 4 leghorns who I'm pretty sure are supposed to lay sooner. Ive been searching the yard for a nest, but have found nothing. I have 8 acres with woods, there's only so much searching I'm going to do. It's time to lock 'em down! Good luck.
  4. bok

    bok Hatching

    Sep 10, 2011
    Hello there
    I can't believe there are only 3 posts/replies to this problem. I was hoping it would be more common. I have 5 hens (3 rir and 2 buff orps). They are about 28 weeks and we were starting to wonder why they weren't laying when we happened upon a clutch of 16 eggs in the ivy two days ago. I put golf balls in the boxes in the coop but I haven't locked them up yet. I'm afraid it will only make them stop laying, they love to roam. Since we found the 16 eggs and removed them, only 3 eggs have appeared. So I'm not sure if they're freaking out that all the eggs are gone.
    So, any other advice? Lock them up? In coop only or coop and run? For how long?
    I'm new at this, in case you haven't figred that out.
    Thank you for any info on this!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  5. SassyKat6181

    SassyKat6181 Songster

    Aug 30, 2010
    Western Mass
    I bought wooden eggs to teach my girls to use the nest boxes.....they were laying on the floor of the coop. They are a light brown color and you can hardly tell they are fakes. When my newest girls started laying at 18 weeks, they were all in the boxes. They range in the run during the day (50'x100') but all eggs have been laid in the boxes. They just run back in when it's their turn. You might have to also lock them in for a few days until they learn the program. Good luck.
  6. farmdude

    farmdude Songster

    Sep 20, 2009
    NE Wisconsin
    I think the "dummie" eggs is the way to go. Instinct tells the hens that if their eggs are disappearing, to lay some place else. Chickens can't count nor can tell tell a fake egg from a real one. So if there is always an egg in the nest box, they'll think it is a safe place and will continue to lay there.
  7. KMHunter

    KMHunter [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Cr

    Jun 12, 2009
    My Coop
    I have read that locking them up for a few days or so is the way that really works. I had one of my pullets laying in a hard to reach place and I blocked it off. I was fully prepared to lock her in for a day or three, but she layer in the nest box today. She didn't seem to have any other place she likes to lay so I feel pretty safe in not locking her up for the moment. I didn't think she had started to lay yet until somehow I looked in a low corner under the coop and there were 5 eggs! I know they are hers because she is the only other EE I have and the other one lays in the coop. Thought not in a nesting box. "sigh"

    Good luck getting them to lay in your coop!

  8. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    I used golf balls, it worked fine, then all of the sudden they started laying outside in the pole barn...so I locked them up and didn't let them out till later in the day...worked great, now they are back to laying in the pole barn...ugh! So today they go back on lock down once again! At least I know where they are laying, but by now I have all 12 of my girls laying, so they will get it if it kills me! Lock them down...it does work, they just aren't that happy!
  9. wrldlygrrl

    wrldlygrrl Songster

    Apr 24, 2011
    Decatur, GA
    Not only do two of mine lay on the floor of the coop, it seems that they go bowling with the eggs if I don't find them early!
  10. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct In the Brooder

    Jul 5, 2011
    Put the nesting box where they are naturally laying them in your coop. If you can find fake eggs, or golf balls put them in the box, and make little nests around them. Ours organically decided to lay in one corner of the coop. They REFUSED the boxes we had set up and would push them around and get stuck BEHIND the milk crates trying to lay eggs in the corner. We finally built a larger community nest box and installed it yesterday in the corner they lay their eggs in. I put yellow plastic easter eggs in there, and one of my Buffs that isn't laying yet didn't like them, so she started pecking at them - yikes! This morning 1 egg was in the box, and another was on the floor tucked near the box. If you see the ladies getting ready to lay eggs, pick them up and put them in the nesting boxes. My girls didn't like this at first, but they got used to it, and it at least encouraged them to lay where I wanted them to lay their eggs. Another thing I do, is if I can - I don't let them out of their smaller pen until they have all laid their eggs. Mine are consistently morning layers with the bulk of them out before I've left for work.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

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