Keeping Nesting Box clean?

KikiDeAnime

Crowing
Dec 29, 2017
1,524
2,007
267
Battle Ground, WA
I'm not sure who it is but 2 or 3 of the hens keep leaving poop in the nesting box. The hens lay at different times of the day so I'm unable to go out and see. I'm also quite busy this week with finishing an art piece for someone.

How do I keep the nesting box clean without scaring off the hens from laying in it?
It's important as 1 of our 2 pullets has started laying and I want her to continue laying in the nesting box. I also want to keep the eggs as clean as possible.

And before you say anything, we're currently in the process of building another coop so there will be enough nesting boxes by the time next year rolls around.
 

Jemma Rider

Songster
Nov 25, 2017
456
484
141
Maryland
I'm not sure who it is but 2 or 3 of the hens keep leaving poop in the nesting box. The hens lay at different times of the day so I'm unable to go out and see. I'm also quite busy this week with finishing an art piece for someone.

How do I keep the nesting box clean without scaring off the hens from laying in it?
It's important as 1 of our 2 pullets has started laying and I want her to continue laying in the nesting box. I also want to keep the eggs as clean as possible.

And before you say anything, we're currently in the process of building another coop so there will be enough nesting boxes by the time next year rolls around.
I use sand in my boxes and every day use a kind of sifter and remove any poo or debris that the hens have dragged in. Usually they would get it stuck to their feet and it would fall off while they were scratching around getting their nests perfect. The sand doesn't deter them from laying in the boxes and they have more trouble kicking it out of the boxes so it's been ages since I got a broken egg. I have four hens and four boxes and every day they pile into the same box and lay eggs it's so goofy. That said I think it's still best to have one box per three hens, just so they still have the option.
 

KikiDeAnime

Crowing
Dec 29, 2017
1,524
2,007
267
Battle Ground, WA
I use sand in my boxes and every day use a kind of sifter and remove any poo or debris that the hens have dragged in. Usually they would get it stuck to their feet and it would fall off while they were scratching around getting their nests perfect. The sand doesn't deter them from laying in the boxes and they have more trouble kicking it out of the boxes so it's been ages since I got a broken egg. I have four hens and four boxes and every day they pile into the same box and lay eggs it's so goofy. That said I think it's still best to have one box per three hens, just so they still have the option.
They all like laying in the same nesting box and even when one laid an egg in the chick coop(Still don't know how it got in), they still all lay in the one nesting box and it's big enough for 2 standard hens.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
10 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,164
12,240
707
Southeast Louisiana
You have already answered my first question, it is during the day. Then you got my second, number and sex of the chickens though actual ages of the younger ones could help. You are posting faster than I can type this morning but keep it up, it's good info.

I don't think it is a number of nests issue but that for some reason they are spending time in the nests. I don't think it has anything to do with the size of the nests. Until you know why they are spending time in the nest I can't tell you how to fix it. Since it is during the day I'll speculate that some of your chickens are afraid of some others and are avoiding them. The nests are a safe place for them to go.

If it is pullets then they may be hiding from an amorous cockerel. If it is a younger chick, they may be hiding from the hens or older adolescents. During integration it is pretty common for my more immature ones to be where the older ones are not. If they are all in the coop the younger are often on my roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. Some may hide under the nests, they are pretty low. If the adults are in the run, the young are in the coop. The younger avoid the older.

The same type of thing can happen with pullets trying to avoid an amorous cockerel. They try to go where the cockerel is not and try to get somewhere that he cannot mate them. Since you are building a new coop I'd guess they are fairly crowded.

They may already be in the habit of using the nests as a safe place so ti it may be hard to break them. The solution may be to give them other safe place they can go. That may involve additional room or it may involve other places to hide. That's not always easy to do, especially when you are busy with other commitments. That may involve more run space, it may mean adding things things they can hide under, behind, or above in the coop or run.

It may involve locking up a chicken. If the problem is an amorous cockerel locking him up can take care of the problem, the females no longer have a reason to hide. If it is the chicks doing it because of age you may need to lock them up until they mature or you finish your new coop. I'm speculating but I believe it boils down to not enough room or hiding spaces for a mixed age flock and/or cockerels/pullets going through puberty. I don't think it has anything to do with number or size of the nests, just that they are safe places to hide.
 

KikiDeAnime

Crowing
Dec 29, 2017
1,524
2,007
267
Battle Ground, WA
You have already answered my first question, it is during the day. Then you got my second, number and sex of the chickens though actual ages of the younger ones could help. You are posting faster than I can type this morning but keep it up, it's good info.

I don't think it is a number of nests issue but that for some reason they are spending time in the nests. I don't think it has anything to do with the size of the nests. Until you know why they are spending time in the nest I can't tell you how to fix it. Since it is during the day I'll speculate that some of your chickens are afraid of some others and are avoiding them. The nests are a safe place for them to go.

If it is pullets then they may be hiding from an amorous cockerel. If it is a younger chick, they may be hiding from the hens or older adolescents. During integration it is pretty common for my more immature ones to be where the older ones are not. If they are all in the coop the younger are often on my roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. Some may hide under the nests, they are pretty low. If the adults are in the run, the young are in the coop. The younger avoid the older.

The same type of thing can happen with pullets trying to avoid an amorous cockerel. They try to go where the cockerel is not and try to get somewhere that he cannot mate them. Since you are building a new coop I'd guess they are fairly crowded.

They may already be in the habit of using the nests as a safe place so ti it may be hard to break them. The solution may be to give them other safe place they can go. That may involve additional room or it may involve other places to hide. That's not always easy to do, especially when you are busy with other commitments. That may involve more run space, it may mean adding things things they can hide under, behind, or above in the coop or run.

It may involve locking up a chicken. If the problem is an amorous cockerel locking him up can take care of the problem, the females no longer have a reason to hide. If it is the chicks doing it because of age you may need to lock them up until they mature or you finish your new coop. I'm speculating but I believe it boils down to not enough room or hiding spaces for a mixed age flock and/or cockerels/pullets going through puberty. I don't think it has anything to do with number or size of the nests, just that they are safe places to hide.
I'll take a picture of their free range yard and coop to show.

Right now, the 3 chicks(2 wks as of today) are currently inside and will be until next week. They will go into the chick coop.
The cockerel, as much as I see, only goes after the 2 pullets who he grew up with.They will be 4 months old on the 26th.
The laying hens are 1 year old.
The cornish pullets are 7-8 wks.

The only time a hen has stayed in the nesting box longer than an hour was when it went broody but they were brought inside as soon as possible.
We have 2 apple trees in their yard and 2 of the hens have already begun to jump into one.
 

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