Is something sleeping in my nest boxes?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by TheSpiceGirls, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

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    Bay Area, CA
    Here's the deal. I have a small hen house that sits inside a sizable predator protected run. So I don't lock my hens in their house at night. Because they are safe from anything that would harm them. BUT I can't keep out smaller critters like rats, mice, and small birds.

    I have sand under the roosting bar inside the house and shavings in their nest boxes. And for the most part the sand stays put as does the shavings.

    Well, we went away for a few days a few weeks back and the neighbor was looking after my ladies. When I got back, someone had really stirred up the shavings and kicked lots of them into the sand area of the house. My BO has finished molting and is getting ready to lay again and I thought perhaps she was in there and maybe grumpy and kicked some shavings out. Well, it's happening every night. I tidy up the house in the morning and I don't always get home to check on them before they've gone to bed. And each morning the shavings are all fluffed up and kicked around.

    I see no droppings, chicken or otherwise, in the nests. So I don't think it's a rodent. Wouldn't I see droppings if it was a rodent?

    I suppose it could be the hens during the day and I'm just not noticing the few times I get home in time to see them in the evenings.

    What else could do this?

    I guess I need to make a point of checking on them in the evenings to see what's going on in the house and maybe do a midnight raid out there to see if I catch anything in there. I'm almost scared to do so.
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Yeah, I would make a point of doing an evening check but what I suspect is going on is your birds are in there scratching during the day. If their feeder is in there they may be scratching for spilled feed. Or if the ground outside is damp they may be dust bathing. Mine dust bath in the shavings inside the coop door when it's damp outside and they throw shavings everywhere.

    All that aside, the open coop door at night would concern me. Unless your run is a super-duper Fort Knox I'd be concerned that something might eventually find a way to break in.
     
  3. I agree with one of them starting to dust bathe in the nest boxes. Time to check every body well for mites and such [​IMG] since they just started doing it.
     
  4. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

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    Mites. Good point. I haven't picked them up in a while because they have been molting and don't like it. They do have a lovely sandbox for dust bathing but I've found that recently, they prefer the damper soil over where the compost used to be. And there's no DE over there.

    I'll give them a good checking over this weekend and put out a fresh sprinkle of DE all around.

    There is no food or water in the house. I'm in CA and it's really mild here in the winter. We'll get a few nights that dip into the low 30's like last night. But it warms right up when the sun comes up. Today is suppose to be in the mid 60's.

    My run is Fort Knox. I had a guy build it out that way. And I'm fortunate in that the largest predators we have are raccoons, possum, skunk and hawks. Well, and dogs and cats. My girls have been out there for a year and a half and while I've found some raccoon droppings, I've never found any evidence of them trying to get in. Let me rephrase. I'm sure they try. But there is no evidence of them being able to pull up the wire or fencing.

    I know that nothing is totally secure, but I work crazy hours and we do like to get out of town for a long weekend here and there so I needed something where they could come and go on their own. And it's worked well for us thus far.
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Quote:Have you considered an auto-door? They make life SO much easier!
     
  6. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Have you considered an auto-door? They make life SO much easier!

    I just didn't see the point since their run is secure.

    I'd have to get a new house for the girls to do this. Their house is small. It's my avatar. And there isn't enough room to convert their door which opens out to a roll up door. And really, my set up is working fine. I really don't think anything is sleeping in their nests. I think it's the two hens making this mess. Which they are doing to do regardless of how the door works. And if the door isn't open when they are ready to come out, now that they are used to coming and going on their own schedule, I think they are going to go ballistic in there and really trash the place.

    I'll clean up everything this weekend and give them a once over and put out a fresh layer of DE around.
     
  7. <3 N.C Chicken Chick <3

    <3 N.C Chicken Chick <3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if you have a rooster he will do this trying to get the nest "rready" for the girls. [​IMG] good luck
     

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