need help getting hens to use the nests

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lisameeks, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. lisameeks

    lisameeks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2008
    ANY HELP WILL BE APPRECIATED!

    This is my first time with chickens and everything has gone beautifully--until now.

    I have nine hens (8 different breeds) who are 5 months old. The two Comets started laying at 4 months and use the nests. (I have the nests that cause the eggs to roll out of the way after they lay to discourage egg eating.)

    My Leghorn started by laying on the coop floor in an out-of-the way corner. I tried and tried to put her in the nest (like the books say to do) but she's too feisty to catch. I finally blocked her access to her favorite corner and now 80% of the time she'll use the nest. Occasionally she'll use the coop floor under the nesting box.

    HERE'S MY PROBLEM: My Austrolorpe wants to lay on the droppings board. Two other mystery hens are laying in the chicken run outside. Sometimes these eggs make it and sometimes someone (or two or three) eat those eggs, especially if it's on the droppings board. Yesterday morning I went to let them out. It was barely light. Someone had dropped an egg on the board under their roost and three of the girls were going at it. I know egg eating is a really, really bad habit.

    I've tried putting fake eggs and real eggs in the nests. I added wood shavings to the nests to make them more appealing. Are there any other tricks to encourage the nests over the ground? Why don't they like my expensive nesting boxes?
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do you have photos? Maybe the more experienced poultry folk will comment on layout or nest box size/height.

    Could the droppings board be tilted to make laying there unattractive?
     
  3. lisameeks

    lisameeks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2008
    I don't know how to attach photos so I'll study up on that. The nests are hung on one wall with the roosts and the dropping pit on the opposite wall in the coop. The other two walls have the pop door to the run and directly across from that is my human door that lets me in the coop. The coop is built into a corner of my garage so I access the coop from inside my garage. I access their run from outside. The nesting boxes are the two-over-two kind that has a tilted floor so that the egg rolls into a trough protected by a plastic flap. I mounted it on the wall at the recommended height from the floor. So I figure the nests themselves are the right specs. I was wondering if it was too bright in the coop and therefore in the nests. I have a couple of bulbs burning from the time they get up until they go to bed. The only light source from the run into the coop is the pop door, so without the lights it would be like a cave in there.
     
  4. beakkeeper

    beakkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2008
    Is it possible that the nests are too high/too openor exposed/not enough nesting material inside? The boxes should be 1-2 ft. from the floor for standard, and higher for banties. You should try putting some fake eggs into the nest so they think it's their own. Clear away all nests outside of the boxes you want them to use. Also, try cutting some cloth into slits to make a little door that the hen can go thru to get to her nest. This may make her feel a little more secure.

    Good Luck
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Hens like a dark, quiet place to lay. Can't hurt to turn off the lights and see if you can make laying in the nests a desirable thing. As far as laying on the roosts...can you block access to the roosts in the daytime? Some birds are just confused! [​IMG] When my birds started looking for places outside the coop to lay, I started keeping them in the coop until afternoon, for a week or so. Stopped that behavior. Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  6. lisameeks

    lisameeks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2008
    I'll try your suggestions--I can put up some screening to block off the roosts and turn off the lights and, I guess, block off the floor areas that they're choosing to nest in and see if they'll get the message. Once they start going to the nest can I assume I won't have to keep up all of this?
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Pretty much but you may have to reinforce from time to time.

    I have a rogue young pullet that keeps laying outside and has finally led an insurrection! Now, I have to retrain all my older hens, and tomorrow or the next day the young troublemaker goes in the pot. She's just escaped too many times, roosts outside, lays her eggs outside, is way too wild for my liking. I don't want these kind of characteristics in my flock, so she is taking the chopping-block- bus out of here! [​IMG]
     

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