Nest box pads? (As opposed to loose bedding)

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
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East Tennessee
Have any of you tried any of the nesting box pad products for your nest boxes as opposed to using loose bedding (I’ve been using pine shavings) - loose bedding that your hens just kick out of the boxes until the floors of the boxes are bare?

I’m looking at the Petmate Excelsior brand nest box pads which are advertised as soft and comfortable (made of biodegradable materials). Hens can scratch at them and fluff them up but they stay in place with a brown paper back lining. Then every 2-4 months you just remove the pad and paper, add them to the compost pile, and then refresh each of your nest boxes with a fresh pad. This product has high ratings on Amazon.

An alternative would be the rubber, cut to fit pads for the bottom of nesting boxes. They are slotted so fresh air circulates, they’re soft to stand and sit on for your hens, and they can be removed for easy rinse down at any time. These seem like maybe they wouldn’t give hens the enjoyment of scratching and pecking at a natural nest box material, preventing them from moving the nest box material at Nestound to get it as comfortable as they like but I don’t know. Maybe these would be okay with laying hens.

Have any of you used a product like either of these in your nest boxes? I’d love your input. Right now my hens are kicking the pine shavings I’m using in the boxes out until they’re left with bare wooden floor. None of my pullets (age 4-8 months) have begun laying yet so I want to make sure that the nest boxes remain comfy and inviting and not scratched down to bare wood floor.
 

fldiver97

Enabler
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Aug 5, 2009
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I use the biodegradable liners. Exchange ever 4-6 months. I usually just sprinkle some dried herbs in, spot clean as needed. Mostly clean when the girls are molting and leave feathers everywhere. In colder months I add some pine shavings on top. Never tried the rubber type but like the liners better than anything else I’ve used (straw, just shavings - large or small). 9 girls and 3 nesting boxes. Liners aren’t cheap but hold up well, will continue to use
 

aart

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Nov 27, 2012
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I use a tight flake of straw, stays put pretty good...but my nests have good sized fronts that repel the removal of bedding....once straw is been broken in to a nice bowl shape they don't scratch at it much at all.
 

Loveak9

Songster
Sep 1, 2018
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South Central Wisconsin
We used the natural liners. The ladies love them, they scratch/shape well and last for a good amount of time. I have even removed the linening off one and placed a second one on the bottom.... to give it extra shaping room. Easy to pick the rare poo off, but still cheap enough to toss when really bad.
 

OhZark Biddies

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Apr 13, 2018
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I have a single compartment, communal, roll out, nest box and I use a piece of old indoor/outdoor carpet to line it. I used pine shavings in it to get them used to it, and then just took those out and left the carpet only, to let the eggs roll out.

The ladies use the carpet the same as they did the wood chips no issues.
 

Eilsel

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Dec 15, 2017
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NE Kansas

HeyHo

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May 17, 2018
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Massachusetts
My girls didn't take to the excelsior pads when they were learning where to lay, perhaps because it was different than the rest of their pine bedding. So I went with regular bedding for a while. My boxes have a good lip on them, so the shavings stayed in. Now that they've gotten the hang of things, I've been introducing the pads back in (since I have a pile of them that I paid for). The girls show no particular preference whatsoever. So if the shavings aren't working for you, try the pads.
 

Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
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Funny you should ask @thecreekhouse, as a couple of weeks ago I was investigating this myself.

We had used these excelsior nest pads, as you are considering and they were fine, but apparently my pullets were unimpressed with the paper lining. All excelsior scratched off in less than 24 hours - paper in the coop, along with a good bit of the excelsior. It was so consistent that we just ripped of the paper backing the last couple of refreshes, in order for more excelsior to stay in (and we do have a decent lip on the front of the nest boxes to prevent everything coming out). So, once that 10-pack was almost gone, I started to look into options. I strongly considered the plastic ones you can hose off, but many comments were that they were stiff and chickens were not always accepting of this (I figured I could add excelsior at first to get them used to it). I also considered carpet like @Eilsel and @OhZark Biddies. In the end, with the recommendation from my 12yo chicken assistant recommending continuing to use the excelsior, I purchased a 10lb box of the excelsior (no paper backing) from Amazon. It was listed under "willow specialties" sold by Wasserstrom restaurant supply. It came very clean and was over 10lbs by weight (included the box weight), and not a whole lot more expensive than the 10 pack pads.

Good Luck with your decision!
 
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