Laying in the Wrong Place

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by annjamaican, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. annjamaican

    annjamaican In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2015
    Western Washington
    My chickens are living in a repurposed camper, I have installed nesting boxes but they aren't laying in them. I even put fake eggs in the nesting boxes to encourage them but I have only been finding eggs in the 'closet' of the camper. I told my husband I would lock it off so they can't lay in there but he is concerned that if I deny them access to their preferred spot, they will lay outside instead and we won't be able to locate the eggs.

    What to do?
  2. StephanRanch

    StephanRanch In the Brooder

    Jun 26, 2014
    Murfreesboro Tn
    I just pulled 30 eggs and a hen who'd been missing for 3 days out from under our deck. It was as thrilling as it sounds. I put lots of big rocks in the spot and threw out all the eggs. It took a few days, but they started laying in the house again. I don't have the most experience, but I would maybe move a few of the eggs to the nesting boxes then go ahead and close up the closet. But put a nesting box or something similar in the closet for a while before closing it up so they get used to the boxes and will identify the similarity to the boxes you want them to use.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Your husband might be correct....but if you could close the closet and keep them locked in the coop until afternoon, it would force them to lay in the coop and help establish that good habit.

    They might not like the fake eggs, leave one nest empty of fake eggs. I had a pullet who wouldn't use the nest at first until I removed the fake egg...after awhile it didn't seem to bother her any more.

    Have they just started laying?
    What do the nests look like, can you post pics?
    Are the nests easy to get up to and easy to get down from?
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    What’s wrong with them laying in that closet? Can you make that an acceptable nesting location for you? Probably not or you would not be asking but I’ll ask silly questions.

    Is this just one egg or have they been laying there for a while? It’s not that unusual for a pullet to drop her first few eggs wherever she happens to be but once she gains control of the process she will return to the same nest every time. So if this is regular, she is committed to that spot.

    If you block that area off there are different things that could happen. They might move to the nests, they might start laying outside somewhere, or they might lay somewhere else in the camper, probably near that closet. They are living animals, no one can tell you what they will do for sure.

    So what can you do? Try closing off the closet and see what happens. You could easily get lucky.

    As Aart suggested, can you leave them locked in the camper with that closet closed and force them to find another nest in the camper. You could easily get lucky.

    This one is more involved. If you can get them used to laying in a mobile nest (maybe a cardboard box with bedding in it) where they are now laying, then you can try slowly moving that mobile nest toward the main nests. Just move it a foot or so every couple of days so they keep using it. Then when you get to the nest area, take the mobile nest away and see if they make the switch. Close off the closet of course. I’ve never tried this one myself but some people on this forum say they have had success doing this.

    I’ve used this trick several times. I made some of my nests so I can lock a hen in there if I wish. When I catch a hen laying where I don’t want her to, I move her to the nest and lock her in until she lays her egg, then let her out. That normally takes about a half hour, but I have had some go three hours. I usually only have to do this once but I occasionally get one that is stubborn about it.

    Good luck with this. It can get a bit frustrating.
  5. annjamaican

    annjamaican In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2015
    Western Washington
    I found seven eggs in the same spot after finding my first egg there a day earlier. It is hard to keep the closet area clean so I'd rather if they layed in another section of the camper.
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    Try and figure out what makes the closet so attractive. Is it darker, out of the traffic flow, warmer, colder in the closet. Think about why they might prefer it over the nest boxes you've provided. Are the boxes open or covered, are they raised, maybe too high, too bright? Try and replicate the closet conditions in the area you would rather they nest in.

    I have heavy bodied ladies and in the beginning they kept nesting under the nest boxes I had mounted to the wall. I lowered the nest boxes a bit, hung up curtains to block some of the light, and put a big block of wood in front that they could hop on and use as a launch pad. As soon as I made those changes they started using the boxes right away.

    If you have a number of girls laying in the closet already, I do agree that at this point you'll probably have to block off the closet to get them to stop. Blocking the closet and having another equally attractive option right there in front of them might do the trick though.

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