Nest advice

dheltzel

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 30, 2013
4,811
1,873
331
Pottstown, PA
I've never had peas breeding before, and I'm looking for advice for making a nest since I think my peas have started laying (wasn't expecting eggs this year). I have 5 peas (3 cocks, 2 hens) in a single pen. No aggression so far, so maybe the eggs are not fertile, but still, I'd like to get the hens used to laying in a proper nest. The first egg I found was just in the sand in the run - not optimal.

Should the nest be on the ground, or is an elevated nest platform better?
They seem to not like to be inside the enclosed shelter very much, and spend nearly all their time out in the run (24 ft square and 8 ft high). I have a 4x6 covered area with roosts, I'm thinking the best nest area is under that covered area, even though the roosts are directly above and it is still pretty exposed at ground level (covering panel is 8 ft up). I read they won't use a nestbox, how about if it is open on 3 sides, just a roof about 2 ft off the ground and against a solid wall, sort of a shelter over a low box with bedding inside.

Does anyone have pictures of nesting areas they've made?
 

DylansMom

RIP 1969-2017
6 Years
Jan 10, 2014
3,742
585
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PA
I've never had peas breeding before, and I'm looking for advice for making a nest since I think my peas have started laying (wasn't expecting eggs this year). I have 5 peas (3 cocks, 2 hens) in a single pen. No aggression so far, so maybe the eggs are not fertile, but still, I'd like to get the hens used to laying in a proper nest. The first egg I found was just in the sand in the run - not optimal.

Should the nest be on the ground, or is an elevated nest platform better?
They seem to not like to be inside the enclosed shelter very much, and spend nearly all their time out in the run (24 ft square and 8 ft high). I have a 4x6 covered area with roosts, I'm thinking the best nest area is under that covered area, even though the roosts are directly above and it is still pretty exposed at ground level (covering panel is 8 ft up). I read they won't use a nestbox, how about if it is open on 3 sides, just a roof about 2 ft off the ground and against a solid wall, sort of a shelter over a low box with bedding inside.

Does anyone have pictures of nesting areas they've made?
Hopefully some others will chime in if they have had better luck than I have, but after 20 years with Peas, I've never had a hen use a "Proper" nest or accept and use any prepared area I made for them. If they lay inside they usually choose a corner, but it can change with each egg layed, if they lay outside in a run they will just scratch out a shallow depression in the dirt. Don't try to move a nest as they will abandon it if you do. Many will even lay their eggs from the perch so make sure you have a lot of cushioning under those.
 

KsKingBee

Crowing
7 Years
Sep 29, 2013
6,635
3,972
472
The Scenic Flint Hills of Kansas
I certainly don't have the experience DylansMom has, but I did have one broody hen last year that was successful in hatching out some young ones. My pen was 12 x 24 with an 8 x 12 full enclosed coop made for chickens. My hens had been laying inside and one of the hens had decided that she wanted to set in the corner under the perch. The perch wasn't a problem as they only go inside during the day to get in the shade, but to protect the hen from droppings I leaned a piece of plywood against the wall in the corner where she wanted to set. This gave her protection from the droppings and some privacy from the other birds in the run. The biggest problem I had was the other birds scratching and dusting in the coop. They had undermined the plywood a couple of times, but it all turned out fine in the end.




 

DylansMom

RIP 1969-2017
6 Years
Jan 10, 2014
3,742
585
248
PA
I certainly don't have the experience DylansMom has, but I did have one broody hen last year that was successful in hatching out some young ones. My pen was 12 x 24 with an 8 x 12 full enclosed coop made for chickens. My hens had been laying inside and one of the hens had decided that she wanted to set in the corner under the perch. The perch wasn't a problem as they only go inside during the day to get in the shade, but to protect the hen from droppings I leaned a piece of plywood against the wall in the corner where she wanted to set. This gave her protection from the droppings and some privacy from the other birds in the run. The biggest problem I had was the other birds scratching and dusting in the coop. They had undermined the plywood a couple of times, but it all turned out fine in the end.






This is pretty much what we do now, if they choose to go broody we will try to make the spot they chose more "proper", as opposed to making a "proper" nest and then trying to get them to accept and use it.
 

MinxFox

Crowing
9 Years
Sep 16, 2010
4,117
329
326
Pensacola, FL
I agree with the others peahens can be very hard to persuade to use a designated nesting area.

Now, that being said the very first eggs a peahen lays will not be laid with much thought to the area they are laid in. She will lay the first eggs off of the perch, right in the middle of the pen, by the side of the fence, etc. After her first clutch of eggs that she lays randomly she will start to find better places to hide her eggs and she will start thinking about actually laying the eggs all together in one spot rather than lay them all over the place.

I have four peahens and they have many nesting area options. Each peahen has her own preference, so if you are lucky and have a peahen that does use the nest box you provide, that doesn't mean her sister will do the same.

Inside one of their shelters my Dad and his friend built four nest boxes. The boxes are filled with straw. The peahens don't really consider these nest boxes most of the time. In the 7 or so years I have had peafowl only 1 peahen has nested in one of these boxes and while she was nesting in here a raccoon came in and killed her so after that incident I might never have a peahen use one of these boxes! I saw one of my white peahens jump in one of the boxes recently but so far she has been laying elsewhere. I have had a peahen nest UNDER these boxes. So far I don't think it is worth the trouble making nest boxes for them. My peas do like using the nest boxes as a platform to then fly up to the inside perches or the dominant peacock likes to jump up on top of the boxes and sleep or lounge up there. So it is useful in that sense I guess.


Another option is dog boxes. I have had more luck using dog boxes than nest boxes. This blue dog box is elevated but I always keep a low perch or plank next to it so that peahens or even peacocks can jump in here. Currently my peacock Peep uses this dog box as a hiding place for when one of the other peacocks starts chasing him. This dog box is stacked on top of another dog box. The peahens NEVER use the bottom dog box but they do like using the top one. This year I have collected eggs out of this dog box so they still see it as a good spot for nesting.


Then I have a more natural nesting area that is also very popular. I have two of these areas both are made from the welded wire fencing. You get a bit of fencing, attach it to the fence, and then bend it in an arch. Make sure it is wide enough and tall enough for the birds to easily walk in and out of. The more popular one I have is in the corner of the pen. I would say making this natural shelter in a corner is a good idea and making sure that you give the sides of the fencing a lot of cover too is a good idea. You could probably even get some of that camo screening fabric for the fence part. When we cut the dead palm fronds off of the date palms we take them and put them over this shelter, or whenever you cut any limbs off of trees you can layer them over this. If you are worried about the peahen getting too wet under this shelter you can first put down a plastic shower curtain and then put the branches over it. I did that one year. So far my peahen Ice, the one in the above photo, really loves nesting under this natural shelter. Both natural shelters have had nests under them this year and yesterday I found an egg under one of them. Since I am collecting the eggs once I find them they don't get to sit, but I am sure I would have someone sitting under one of these shelters if I would let them.

This is an old photo of the shelter. I can't seem to find other photos of the two natural shelters I have so I will have to take some today. You can see eggs under it in this photo.


Finally, because I have plants in my peafowl pen, the peahens will sometimes choose to nest under a plant.


Then there are times when they will find any kind of corner - even if it is bare dirt - and nest there. Mine do use some of the areas I make for them to nest in, but really it can be hard to say if they will nest where you want them to or not. Ice seems to really like nesting under the natural shelter because she has had success in the past hatching peachicks out under there so that is probably why she always seems to nest there. This year I have found eggs under both roosts, in the dog box, under both natural shelters, under one of the fatsia plants, under the cycad, by the side of the fence where the peahens pace before they lay an egg, etc. I really do a lot of searching every day to look for eggs.
 

dheltzel

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 30, 2013
4,811
1,873
331
Pottstown, PA
Thanks for the advice!
I will add some course hay under the outdoor roosts and think about some other "cover" I can make for the peahens.
 

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