How to prevent sleeping/pooping in the nest boxes??


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 15, 2009
I have 6 hens that are 13 weeks old so too early to lay but I think I might have a problem when they do start laying. They have taken to sleeping in the next boxes at night and pooping in there as well so the boxes get very dirty which is not going to be good when they start laying. I tried blocking the boxes off but I wasn't sure then how or when to allow them access to the nest boxes just to do the laying, especially if it's early in the morning when they lay. I heard if you block off the boxes, they might lay on the ground or on the bottom of the coop.

I am newbie, this is my first flock so if you can give me some advice I would really appreciate it. I have to figure out a solution quickly as I don't want them to start laying in the boxes and I wind up with nothing but pooped on/cracked eggs. 4 or 5 of them usually crowd in one nest box to sleep at night. I don't know how that is going to work if they start laying in another month.

Clean and close off the nest boxes ASAP. They are too young to lay any eggs for awhile. Do you have a roost set up? You need to put them on a roost every night if they don't go up themselves until they learn to do it. My birds are 4 weeks old and all sleep on the roost at night.
how big are your nest brother had this problem with his
and his boxes were to big..he put a board on the front of them with a 9" hole entrance..that stopped them from sleeping in them...i have a standard metal nest box that you buy from a supply store...mine was free has a 9" entrance front and i never had the problem of them sleeping in the boxes
I have approximately 9 week old chicks that have just been released from their mother. Before she let them go they slept under her in a nest. Now they just sleep together. I don't have a problem since this has just happened. I am thinking as they get older they will work themselves onto the roosts. I think???? Or should I be doing something else??
I read to make sure your roosts are higher than the nest boxes, and that they prefer to be higher to sleep. I'd close them off, and put one nest box on the floor of the coop when they start to lay, hopefully they will be in the habit of using the roosts by then. Good Luck. Henz
Block off the nestboxes for now. 15 weeks is early for a hen to start laying. Very early. So you have a couple of weeks to train them to roost.

And that's easy. Every night after they bed down, pick them up and set them on the roost. They'll figure it out. And once they get in the habit of roosting, they won't want to sleep anywhere else.
Henz is right..........are the roosts higher than the nest box now? If not, it should be.
And if it is, then it needs to be higher still, and/or lower the nest box.
ARe they too cold at night they huddle for warmth? IF not, fill big gallon plastic jugs with dirt and place in the boxes until they're older. It only takes about a week to change their pattern. Worked for me.
I don't know what your coop looks like. With only 6 chickens, you could easily have something fairly small and be height limited. The roosts need to be clearly higher than the nesting boxes, about 12" if you can manage it.

Or if you can't manage that, can they sleep on top of the nest? Cover the nesting box and have enough of an overhang so they cannot poop in the nest from above. This becomes a droppings board and you'll need to scrape it clean every day or two, but this is a great addition to a compost heap. It will also extend the life of your bedding.

I would certainly block off the nests until they get used to sleeping somewhere else. As others said, after they go to sleep, move them to where you want them to sleep. If it is up higher than their preferred spot, they should catch on in a few days. Just make sure they are asleep when you do this and do it with as little light and disturbance as possible.

The key is to have some place higher than the nesting boxes for them to sleep, then retrain.

Good luck!
Thanks for all of your replies. Here is some more information on our coop.

I have a small coop that I bought online. The roosts are lower than the nest boxes about 6 inches or so off the floor. It sort of looks like this one:|39:1|72:1205|240:1318|301:0|293:3|294:50

So I don't think I could get the roosts any higher but I can block off the nest boxes. I just feel that this coop is a little small for six big chickens and when I block off the nest boxes that leaves about a 3x3 area for them to roost and there is two hanging 1 gallon feeders for water and food in there too. Maybe I should scrap the coop and get something else. They have a 8ftLx 4ftWx 6ft H run attached to the coop that they have access to at all times and we move it every other day to clean grass and throw some scratch for them. We also let them out every night for 3-4 hours from about 5 to 9pm.

Anyway, please let me know if the roosts absolutely have to be higher than the nest box.
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