My hens hide their eggs

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by patinoklahoma, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. patinoklahoma

    patinoklahoma In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2007
    My hens often hide their eggs on the place somewhere and are sneaky as coyotes about keeping their new nest a secret. I just made new nest boxes in their house and maybe they'll take to them. As long as I leave a couple eggs in the nest, they keep using it, so I use a magic marker to know which eggs are to be left in the nest.

    Other than releasing them to free range until later in the day, any suggestions on how to encourage them to lay in the nest boxes? I'll let a couple of my six hens set this spring and I hope we'll enjoy babies. After raising chicks from the hatchery and watching the hens do all the work for me, I'll let them do it from now on.

    Another question: I have a dirt floor in the house and rake it clean every month or so. Should I use some kind of litter?

    It is spring here in Oklahoma!! Crocus are blooming and I'm off to plant onions, potatoes, and brocolli. Hooray!!!!

  2. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    In regards to the dirt floor I would use some bedding, either pine shavings, really dry leaves, really dry pine straw to help with the moisture from the poo and to keep your hens feet cleaner....... thus cleaner nest boxes and cleaner eggs.

    Training your hens by leaving them in the coop for a couple weeks, makes them learn to use the nest boxes, if they are suitable size and darkness. If thats not a option I don't know what you can do.

  3. patinoklahoma

    patinoklahoma In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2007
    Hi again, Bigzio. Pine straw: is that needles or shredded pine or what? I have needles I could collect from under trees. I use them in my flower beds for mulch and they don't seem to deter my chickens from scratching in them, darnit. Just seems like needles would be too "pointy" to be comfortable to walk on. My chicks go into their house and straight up to the roost in the eve, then in the morn when I open the door, they often just fly out the door from the roost, so they actually don't spend much time on the floor.

    I have many truckloads of wood chips that the electric company brings. They like having a handy place to dispose of the chips when they're working on this part of town. Talk about "pointy", tho! We use those chips around trees and in our implement storage area to keep from getting muddy. I've had to put wire over the chips around the trees to keep the chicks from scratching it all away, and they spend a lot of time scratching thru chips in the implement yard. They wouldn't be as absorbent as straw, tho; however, moisture in their house isn't a problem, even with their poo, which is basically just under the roost.

    It's amazing how much mental time we spend on our chickens, wondering about them or planning for their comfort, or just being entertained by them. And, how little actual effort we spend caring for them. Great animals.

    It's time to shut them in and turn off the radio for the night.

    This is sure a good forum. Thanks to all.

  4. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    Our chickens use to hide their eggs. Some would lay in the hen house others would go into the work shop where the dogs stay and lay in the dark corners then the dogs started finding them and you what happens then. What I did was put a nesting box out of harms way of the dogs and now they go in and lay their eggs and no problems.
  5. Freebie

    Freebie Songster

    Feb 4, 2007
    Bloomingdale, MI
    Yes, sometimes it is just easier to alter your plans a bit. That is what I have discovered anyway.
  6. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Yep, they pretty much do what they want. We work for THEM, ya know!
  7. SandraChick

    SandraChick Songster

    Being that leaving a couple of eggs in the boxes DOES seem to work---I suggest just putting some fake eggs out there---golf balls work great, that's what I use. Marking the eggs everyday, so that you know which ones to bring in...gets old fast (personal experience).

    You might also consider making your nest boxes darker, by adding a burlap or other material flap in front of it. Chickens like dark secluded places, so make it dark and secluded. Also, make sure the ROO (if you have one), pays attention to the new darker nests. It is often the roo that shows the hens good places to lay. It's a hoot to watch, but I when I spy my roo doing it, I always end up finding eggs there the next day.

    Regarding using the "pointy" wood chips...they're fine for scratching through, but consider the chickens jumping down from the roost onto them---you may be pre-disposing them to bumblefoot problems. I also don't recommend straw, as they will harbor mites/lice.

    I do think adding some kind of bedding would be beneficial---I personally also have a dirt floor coop and I'm using the deep litter method. I get most of the wood shavings from the cabinet makers' in town....I supply the garbage can, they gladly fill it in a few days time and then I pick it up. I do spread it out and then make sure they didn't leave any trash in it, but it's free so I don't mind taking the time to do that. Pine shavings at the feedstore also is pretty cheap and comes in huge bales.

    Good luck

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