Keeping younger hens in a mixed aged flock out of laying boxes

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Hijumper, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Hijumper

    Hijumper New Egg

    Sep 8, 2016
    Charlotte, NC
    I have some younger pullets that live with one older laying hen. The pullets have discovered the laying boxes and love to sleep in them. When all chickens are the same age it's easy to keep them out of the laying box but now that one needs to lay I have to leave them accessible. Any ideas how to keep the pullets out while still allowing access for the laying hen?
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    If you close off the nesting boxes on nighttime, and open them in the morning, the pullets will not have access to sleep in the nest boxes. Also, making your roosts higher than the nest boxes can help.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It’s pretty common for younger chickens to be afraid of older chickens. You may notice your pullets avoiding the hens during the day. That behavior is carried over at night. Sometimes the older hens can be pretty brutal on the roosts so the pullets look for a safer place to roost. Sounds like your nests are that safer place.

    I see that behavior all the time when I’m integrating younger chickens, even when they get along fine during the day. Although I have a lot of roost space on a per chicken basis, the younger ones just are not comfortable up there with the older hens. So I put up a juvenile roost. It’s lower than the main roosts but higher than the nests. It’s separated horizontally from the main roosts by at least three feet. It gives the younger ones a safe place to go that is not my nests.

    Since yours are in the habit of sleeping in the nests they may need to break that habit. If you can make your coop really dark, you can try setting them on the juvenile roost after they go to bed in the nest. You can try that anyway even if it’s not that dark and it might work, but it might be harder. Or block the nests after the others have laid and open them very early in the morning to force them to choose another place to sleep.
  4. Hijumper

    Hijumper New Egg

    Sep 8, 2016
    Charlotte, NC
    Great advice. The nesting boxes are at the same height as the roosting bars, but at opposite ends of the coop. The nesting boxes can't be physically moved because that's how the coop is built. I also can't put a roost any higher as it's a A-frame roof and the roost and nesting boxes are right where the roof starts and it quickly narrows. My laying hen likes to roost on the far left and if any of the pullets try to invade her space she pecks them. They do eventually settle to the opposite side of the roosting bar after I shoo them out of the nesting boxes just before dark.I can easily put up a cardboard divider that stops them from sleeping in the boxes. That will be my first step.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Depending on how high and long your roost is, you may be able to put a divider on the roost too,
    blocking line of sight and easy access between bully and bullied....I have seen that done with great success.

    I have a hinged cover on my nest bank, easy peasy to flip it down an hour or 2 before roost time,
    then I flip it back up when I lock up after preference to going out very early and opening nests back up.
    Those pullets are stubborn, even with plenty of other roosts, they still want to sleep in those nests for weeks on end.
    It seems to stop as soon as a few pullets start laying tho.

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