many hens, one box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ruthiesue, May 4, 2009.

  1. ruthiesue

    ruthiesue Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 31, 2008
    Three hens want to be in the same box, setting on their eggs. I have no idea whose egg is whose, or how old the eggs are. Two eggs have been broken and eaten. This seems like dysfunctional behavior to me. Any comments?
  2. lisahaschickens

    lisahaschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    I am still learning about all this myself, and my answer is only from reading, not from personal experience.

    However, I believe this is common and normal for hens to all want to be in the same box. Do you want them to hatch eggs or not? If not, you need to take all the eggs away. If you do, you'll need to pick one hen, and move her and viable eggs to a separate place and allow her to hatch them. She'll need close food and water because she'll hardly want to get up to eat or drink while she's broody. And she needs to be separate from the others because the adults can and mostly likely will pick on and even kill the babies when they hatch.

    As for the broken/eaten eggs - if they just broke by accident and they haven't really been eaten, then just clean it up and remove them. If they have truly been eaten, you'll need to figure out which chicken is eating eggs and probably get rid of her. I have read that once chickens start to eat eggs, there's almost nothing you can do to stop them...
  3. CoopCrazy

    CoopCrazy Brooder Boss

    Mar 3, 2009
    Totally normal my girls wait in line for the Best box in the house .. They are probably laying their eggs on top of eachother or pushing and thats how the eggs are getting broken.. BAd thing is now you have to worry about eggeaters..
  4. countrybum

    countrybum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2008
    area pop. 96
    Quote:Common and I do not think there is anything to worry about. I use to think the same thing also, but now I know I am not alone. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    If you do not know how old the eggs are they may be spoiling and then the chickens will eat them. I mark the eggs I am letting them sit on and remove fresh eggs daily. If you do that (mark with a sharpie) you will know and be able to keep track. You do not just have to assume the chickens are eating them for no reason this way.

    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Not true on egg eaters! I had the issue and resolved it. It takes diligence on the part of the owner, but it does become a habit, so the sooner you can address it, the better. First, make sure your chickens have LOTS to do. If you do not freerange them, make sure they have things to "play" with in your run. I use a hanging suet feeder and stuff it full of healthy goodies such as cabbage, squash chunks, cucumbers split lengthwise, dark greens, etc. They have to work at it to get the goodies them something else to think of other than eating eggs. Also, egg eating can be caused by insufficient amounts of protein in their diets. When I had the problem, I made mine oatmeal each morning with cooked hamburger in it for the extra protein. Some folks throw in a few handfulls of dry cat food. Understand that it's not good to increase protein and leave it high. I "weaned" them off the oatmeal/hamburger when the egg eating stopped. I also made a curtain for the front of my nest boxes. Apparently, once they go in & lay and leave, the egg is "out of sight, out of mind." But, the very best thing for you to do to deter this behavior and get them out of the habit is to collect eggs FREQUENTLY. Getting them out of the nest boxes is the best way to make sure they aren't being eaten. If you work full time (like me), you may need to call in help from neighbors or friends who don't work. It's a pain, but it's well worth it. I did not want to cull my egg eaters...I had a few in my flock. All these things worked for me, and it took a few weeks of diligence, but (knock wood!!) I haven't had any trouble since (this was in late winter). Good luck! OH, as far as several using the same nest box, that's perfectly normal.
  6. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    I have 14 laying hens and an 8 hole nest box. 2 boxes are the favorite, and they will actually get in line to use them. A few of the less dominant hens will sometimes lay in one of the other boxes. I would add more straw or wood shavings to the boxes to cushion the eggs. You may also want to try making another nest box more inviting. Maybe you could put a box in a secluded corner with its view a bit shielded and put some golf balls or fake eggs in it.
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 6 boxes and the 12 hens use 3 a day, never seems to be the same 3. Heck I'd give your hens another box, or even two. It's nice to get clean, undamaged eggs. [​IMG]
  8. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress

    Countrybum, adorable pic!! [​IMG] [​IMG] Mine do that as well, silly girls!
    and Coopcrazy, my girls "yell" at each other to "hurry up, I need to lay an egg". If they do wait to long, they look like Countrybums girls!
  9. countrybum

    countrybum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2008
    area pop. 96
    My hens just boot the sitters out of the box and jump in to lay their egg. It is hilarious to watch. Once the egg is laid the girls jump back in and sit again.
  10. ruthiesue

    ruthiesue Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 31, 2008
    Thanks, everyone. We let them out all day, only in at night, or whenever they want. We have 8 boxes, but like most people said, no matter how I decorate, they still only like a couple of them. We finally had some chicks hatch out and all is well with them. I have no idea what was going on, but I've isolated the three hens and they seem to be taking turns mothering these little chicks. All the rest of the chickens will be kept out for a few days until the little ones get on their feet. I think we need to eat a couple of roosters. or whatever. Thanks again!

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