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my chickens aren't getting into the nest boxes!!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by broodof3, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. broodof3

    broodof3 Hatching

    Dec 10, 2008
    I have six hens and three nest boxes within the coop that are approximately 12x12x12 and about 18" off the floor of the coop. I do not have a ladder going up to them, since I figured they were low enough to the ground for them to be able to jump into. All are pullets (5-7 mo old), and I have only seen the bantam in there ONCE, and that is it. Do they just not know what to do, or is there some mistake in my design? Or, will they begin to use them once they start to lay? I have one hen laying now, but I find her eggs in the hay on the floor of the coop. I can see where she scoots out her own little 'nest' down there.
  2. arllcountrygirl

    arllcountrygirl lavender nutt

    You might try adding a plastic egg to the boxes, so that they can get the idea.
  3. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing 10 Years

    My roos spend more time in the nest boxes than the hen. It is very strange. The hen isnt laying though so maybe that is her excuse....not sure about the boys.
  4. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I had to cover my nest boxes until the girls were about 18 weeks because they would have slept in them if they could have. We then opened it up and put in golf balls. I only have 7 boxes for 24 girls and I'm thinking I need to make a couple more in side the coop.
  5. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Songster

    Is there a railing or landing pad just outside the nestbox? Often the hens want to see inside first before laying. You may want to consider putting the hen's eggs into the box, and showing her the next day. A light might go on. [​IMG]
    Another thought is to move the nest box down to where your hen is laying, and then slowly lift it back up to where you'd like the box to be.
    My birds' nest box is on the ground and they're doing fine with it. [​IMG]
    Silly birds...

  6. SussexInSeattle

    SussexInSeattle Songster

    Oct 6, 2008
    Yes, I believe they should not be using the nest boxes at all until they are ready to lay. They should never sleep in there overnight because then they poop in them, then you get eggs covered in nasty poo so they really are chicken work benches and everyone knows that you don't sleep at work.

    When I made my nest boxes, I picked up each chicken during the day hours and set them inside and let them jump back out, just so they knew they were available. When it came time to lay, the first one did go right in the nest boxes.
  7. Just put a little box in front of them. Do they have a perch in front? The hens, especially young ones, like something outside the box to land on. If they have to jump 18" they might be nervous without a perch. 12" high is the optimum height, btw. For now I'd invert a box so they can jump on that first, check that there is no 'monster' in the nest, then hop in. [​IMG]


    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Broodof3, I agree with SussexInSeattle. And, moving the birds in there (quietly) is a very good idea.

    The nest box in my coop is also about 18 inches above the floor. I would prefer that it was lower but didn't have that choice. I built a ramp so that it is easier for the hens to get up and down. From its location and newly opened, I don't think they were going to pay any attention to it at all until I begin to lift them in there [​IMG].

    After about 4 eggs on the floor, the first layer decided the box was a better place for a nest. (Don't allow their nesty spot to remain on the floor - mess it up or place something there where the hen can't get to it. [​IMG]) The other hens followed the 1st into the nestbox until the last hen began to lay.

    I had to go thru the routine of introducing her to the nest all over again. She only layed 2 or 3 eggs on the floor but now they all use the box. There's only one box but there's really enuf room for 3 hens at a time if they "squeeze" in. And, they've done that at times [​IMG].


    edit: And yeah, they are all looking for "monsters" in the box [​IMG].
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  9. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Songster

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Quote:Try putting your nest boxes SIDE BY SIDE on the floor of the coop ........ I have 2 coops and all my nesting boxes are on the floor and I also put 2 golf balls in each nest . Works great . They never poop in the nesting boxes ... I put hay in the nesting boxes and the rest of the coop has pine shavings ...

    Nesting boxes should only be used for laying . Build them a roosting area , AWAY from the nesting area , thats where they will be sleeping at night . You really don't want them sleeping in the nesting boxes ..

    Mine get in the nesting boxes to LAY ONLY and right back out in the attached run . At dusk they enter and all get on the roost ....

    My roosting area is made of 2x4's ( like a large trellis ) on oppoiste wall from the nest boxes ...
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  10. Momo

    Momo Songster

    Mar 16, 2008
    Nelson BC
    I had a perch in front of my nest boxes, which are built into the wall (exterior access) 12" above the floor, but my pullets had a hard time getting the hang of laying in there. I put a box on the floor and that helped; they would usually lay in the box instead of directly on the floor. Then I removed the perch and replaced it with a 1x6 shelf running the length of the nest boxes. The girls love it! They can hop up onto the shelf and pace back and forth in front of the nests looking for the perfect place to lay in. I removed the box on the floor and they all started laying in the nests.

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