Nest Box Training - PLEASE HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bmunson, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. bmunson

    bmunson New Egg

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    I have 6 hens that just turned 3mos old. They started laying a week ago, and I hadn't built my nest boxes yet. I built them the day after I found the first egg. My coop / nest box is modeled after a design I found here ( https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=30865-coop ) The problem I'm having is that the hens keep pulling all nesting material out of the boxes, then poop in them. I've put golf balls in as I saw that in a post, but they keep pulling everything out into the main coop area. It's been nearly a week and I'm worried that the problem might be that I hadn't built the boxes in time. (I honestly did not expect them to lay at 3mos old) Any recommendations? Thanks for your help!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  2. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll try to help.
    My guess is that it's boredom that is leading to the scratching of material out of the nest boxes. Maybe over crowding in other words too many birds for the size of the coop and run.
    I put straw in my nest boxes (I put pine shavings on the floor) and it stays in the box better then shavings. The hen naturally does some "rearranging" when she gets in a box to lay and will inadvertantly scratch some out.
    I have to keep adding to my nest boxes.
     
  3. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure they are only 3 months old? When/where did you get them from? That seems really young to start laying! Anyway, I agree with scooter147, it is probably boredom.

    What are you using for nest box material?

    I fill with pine shavings, then cover the top with straw. I do find a few strands of straw outside the box as they do tromp it around to make it comfortable. Make sure you are putting an ample amount in the boxes.

    As far as them pooping in the boxes, are they spending a lot of time in the boxes themselves? Are they sleeping in the boxes? If so, you should somehow make the boxes unavailable to them at night. I sometimes have to put a board in front of my boxes at night to keep any broody hens I am trying to break from going in there instead of roosting.

    Good Luck! [​IMG]
     
  4. city kid farm

    city kid farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have some lovely nest boxes built into the coop and so far (my girls have only been laying for a week) they are choosing not to use them. One lays under a bush and another lays on the floor of the coop. I wish they'd use the nest boxes so I am curious to hear what others say about this.
     
  5. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Well, for the most part I locked my girls in the coop/run for a week so they would get the idea to use the boxes and not the yard. But I had one I had to keep putting in the box so she would get the idea. She finally did!
    CJ
     
  6. sunflowerenvy

    sunflowerenvy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if u know the time of day she lay just put her in the nest box also how far of the floor is the Box. is your rooster higher than your nest box. or if u now where they are lay take some of the bedding and put it in that nest
     
  7. bmunson

    bmunson New Egg

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    Quote:I'm pretty sure they're 3mos plus/minus a week. I got them at TSC. Given how small they were, they couldn't have been much more than a week old. It's a red sex link they sell for layers. I wasn't expecting eggs for some time. Anyways, the coop is 3-1/2' wide X 6' long, and there are 4 boxes mounted on the back, so the boxes are not actually in that foot print. They have a fenced in run that is 6x10 (touchy neighbors so I can't let them roam). I have 6 hens but have been considering giving 2 of them away from the start. I'm new to this, but a several people have told me it's big enough for 6...maybe not. They don't seem to spend alot of time in the boxes, really seem to huddle together in the corner of the coop at night. I'm also using exactly what everyone is recommending in the boxes...nice bed of shavings and hay on top.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  8. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, are they roosting at night or just huddling on the floor of the coop? If so, you could try going out after they are settled in and putting them on the roost one at a time. You may have to do this for a few nights until they get it. I can't remember if you said in an earlier post, but make sure your roost is higher than the nesting boxes and if necessary block it off at night, just make sure you unblock it in time for them to lay in the morning!

    I have a 4x6ft coop and a 7x12ft run and I have four full size hens and four bantams. Even though the coop was advertised for 12-16 chickens there is no way I would have that many in there but the space is adequate for 8 so I think your space should be good for 6. My girls are used to being outside all day so when I have to coop them up they get antsy very fast and have squabbles and start picking at each other. I'm sure eventually they would calm down if they had to stay in there all the time.

    Do you have any roosts in the run? I have two very old saw horses they can hop onto and throughout the day I see them in there just roosting on them. You could also try putting an old tire in the run and filling it with dirt they could dust bathe in. Do you keep the food and water in the coop or in the run? I know sometimes due to weather and or pests people have to keep the food/water in the coop. If you could keep it in the run it might encourage them to stay in there during the day. Another thing you can do is hang something for them to play/eat off of. Like a head of cabbage or greens of some kind. I think the idea is you only want them using the coop for laying eggs and roosting at night so you want to get them interested in staying in the run during the day. I hope I didn't say that too many times! [​IMG]

    Hope all this helps. Sometimes you just have to keep listening to different ideas and trying the ones you can and see which ones work! I will be interested to see how this all works out for you! (and it will work out, you'll see [​IMG] )
    CJ
     
  9. cjdmashley

    cjdmashley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A strung cabbage/apples/just about anything is also a great cure for boredom, also I know that at some garden/farm stores they sell blocks of treat/feed for chickens I plan to try those in the next week or so
     
  10. anbhean

    anbhean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Hey! Mine are doing that too! It's driving me nuts. My one layer (my other two are slow to the process apparently) keeps making a nest on the coop floor and laying there. I know at least one of them has been in the boxes because they are moving around the dummy eggs I put in there. She just apparently prefers the floor of the coop. They aren't pooing in the boxes anymore though, so that's a good sign right? They are always roosted at night when I check, so I don't think they are sleeping there.

    Silly chickens, apparently a lot of us are going through this with them right now! [​IMG]
     

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