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laying eggs on the ground

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by featherednest, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. I have a couple of hens that lay eggs on the ground. Is there a way to get them to lay in the nesting box?

  2. Just before they lay carry them into the box to let them know that there supposed to lay in there
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    An older layer is often a "trainer" for the younger pullets. In the absence of an older hen, the pullets have absolutely no idea where you want them to lay. None. Thus, you basically have to work with their instincts. Birds are ground layers. Chickens like to sleep in the boughs of trees to roost, but they never, ever, go broody and build a nest up there. I've never seen that.

    I have seen them lay down in basement window wells, down under decks, etc. Their instinct tends to make them think of the ground. Thus, we go with that. We put our nests very low, just a box set on a half block, 6" off the ground. They take to this very, very well.

    They like dark, private laying too. Face the boxes away from light sources. Some folks even use strips of cloth to make a kind of curtain for privacy or darkening. These things do work. Are your present nests up high?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There are two types of laying on the ground. I’m not sure which you are talking about.

    When some pullets first start to lay, they have no control over the process. They seem to just drop their eggs anywhere, from the roosts or somewhere on the ground. Most of them seem to get it right to start with but a reasonable percentage have problems like this. They practically always get control pretty soon. If this is going on, I don’t consider it a big deal.

    The problem comes when they get control and still lay where you don’t want them to. This can be practically anywhere they feel is a safe place to make a nest. Even shadows on the coop floor can make a place seem like it is hidden enough for a nest. I find that putting a fake egg in the nest you want them to lay in really helps show them where to lay. I use golf balls.

    The way you can tell if a hen has decided to make a nest on the floor is that the egg is laid in the same spot each time and usually they scoop out a shallow area if they are in bedding or in dirt. If they are regularly laying in one specific spot, you have a problem if you don’t want them laying there.

    I’ve read to put something where they are laying so they can’t lay there. That never worked for me. They just lay next to it. I have had success retraining them, the first I think was pure luck. I walked into the coop just after a pullet had settled in to lay her egg for the second day in the same spot. I went over to get her and she ran off. Later that day she laid in a nest and has been since. I think my actions showed her that place was not safe after all.

    I built some of my nests so I could lock a hen in there if I wanted to. That’s actually come in handy a couple of times for different things. One of those things is handling this problem. I’m retired so I can be around a lot. When I have a hen doing this, I check often to try to catch her on the forbidden nest. When I do I can usually just pick her up and lock her in one of the nests I want her to lay in. I leave her in there until she lays, usually about a half hour.

    I’ve had this happen three times. Two of those it was just like I said and was really easy. The third hen took three hours to lay her egg and was back on her old nest the next day. But when I locked her away again that second day, she got the message.

    Something else I’ve heard of that seems like it might work though I’ve never tried it. Put a nest where she is laying, maybe a cat litter box or something like that. After a few days if she gets used to laying in it, gradually move it toward the nest you want her to lay in. After she gets used to laying in the area of the nest, take the temporary one away and see what she does.

    Good luck with this if it is a habit and not an accident of control. It’s not always and easy one to solve.

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