Mama & chicks sleeping in nest boxes

heybarb

Songster
7 Years
Mar 9, 2012
425
21
111
North Carolina
Our coop is not real big, so after my broody mama got her babies, I put them a covered rabbit cage with bedding, food and water on the floor of the coop. The mama and her chicks hopped in and out easily enough. Well, now they are about 3 weeks old, and for the past 3 nights, I've noticed tons of poop in the nest boxes. I'm pretty sure they have abandoned the covered rabbit cage and are sleeping in the nest boxes at night.

So, how do I make them stop? Thoughts or suggestions?
 

BunkyB

Songster
6 Years
Mar 12, 2013
251
16
101
Blue Mountain, Nova Scotia, Canada
Hmmmm, I would try to keep them from coming out of the rabbit cage. If they are a bit cramped in the cage that will be the reason for their persistence in sleeping in the nesting box. No chance of a bigger cage for the birds? Eventually mama will start to get ornery with the chicks and may peck at them but that is a good time to let mama loose but not until the chicks are fully feathered and lose their fluffy fur.

That is a practice I use anyways. I have tons of room and my ONLY caged birds are mammas and chicks. The rest are free range. It is a good idea to keep taking them out of the nesting boxes so they cannot get used to sleeping there. Hard habit to break sometimes if let to sleep in the boxes. Good luck though... I feel your frustration and it will only be a little more time for the chicks to feather out... Steve
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
216
216
SE Pa.
If you can block off, or remove the nest boxes before they go to roost. On the theory that if they don't see or can't get to, the nest boxes before they choose where to roost they will get out of the habit of sleeping in them. Maybe give the broody an alternate place to sleep, like a pile of straw in the coop. When I let a broody raise chicks I usually leave the pet carrier she hatched them in on the floor while they are growing up.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,829
10,914
636
western South Dakota
put a wide board above the nesting boxes. Mine is probably 4 feet off the floor, and some how Mama gets them up there.

What is happening, is Mama wants off the floor, and the babies still want to cuddle, so a board about 6-8 inches wide, will make a nice roost. The round pole roosts won't work, she still needs to be able to set on them.

The top of my nests is a board, and I could hardly believe she got them to get up there, they hardly had any wing feathers, but they did.

I don't lock my chicks away from the flock, and I can't imagine locking up the mama bird with chicks in a small confined area once they have fluffed. My broody hens takes care of my chicks for weeks, and she free ranges.

MrsK
 

heybarb

Songster
7 Years
Mar 9, 2012
425
21
111
North Carolina
So, I went out to check on them last night and sure enough, even though they are mostly feathered, their little heads were sticking out from under her and she was in one of the nest boxes. I put them back in the rabbit cage and closed the rabbit cage door. No one was happy, but today I will work on making some sort of platform...hmmm, it will take some thought and planning, but I agree with Mrs. K, that's what they want. Mama wants to be off the floor and the chicks still want to cuddle under her...The good news is that they look so cute, it's hard to be mad at her or her chicks!!
 

heybarb

Songster
7 Years
Mar 9, 2012
425
21
111
North Carolina
When I went out at dusk, mama and chicks were in a nest box, but I gently put them all on the shelf above the nest boxes that I installed yesterday. Mama paced around, then jumped back down to the nest box and started calling to them. They were confused, but stayed put on the shelf. My daughter grabbed some bedding and put it up on the shelf, then I put mama back on the shelf with her chicks. She settled right down and started calling to the chicks to come and they cuddled around and under her. In hindsight, I can't blame her for not wanting to sleep on a board, so the bedding helped for sure. They stayed there all night too, because when I went to check on them around 10pm, they were still cuddled up on the shelf!! Yippee!! So, today I get to clean out the nest boxes and put in fresh straw!! No more poopy eggs!!!
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Thanks for the suggestion Mrs. K!! I'm going to try to take a picture tonight, because they really don't fit under mama anymore...she's a bantam and I gave her standard size chicks!
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Really cute!!
 

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