nest box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by naomijm, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. naomijm

    naomijm New Egg

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    Hi, I was wondering if I should block access to the nest boxes until my chicks are ready to start laying. I do not want them to start sleeping in them or is that even a concern. I am a newbie chicken owner and I just want to get them off to a good behavioral start. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You’ll get different opinions on this, just like about everything to do with chickens. Many people like to keep the nests blocked until the pullets start laying. I don’t. I’ve had some pullets start to lay at 16 weeks and some start at 9 months. I really have trouble guessing exactly when they will start.

    I’ll let others explain why they think it’s best if you wait until they start. I prefer to have them open early so I have time to correct problems before it costs me eggs.

    Often the pullets will go in the nests before they start to lay and scratch around. I don’t know if they are looking for food or just exploring for a place to lay eggs when they start. But if I find the nesting material or a fake egg on the coop floor, I know I need to raise the lip on the nest.

    Sometimes chickens will sleep in nests, even if the roosts are higher. What happens is that a dominant chicken may be pretty brutal to chickens lower in the pecking order when they are setting down to roost. The less dominant sometimes abandon the roosts and look for a safer place to sleep. They poop a lot overnight. If they want to sleep in the nests, I’d like to find that out before I get poopy eggs so I can do something about it.

    Sometimes a pullet will drop her egg about anywhere, from the roost or just on the coop or run floor. But most seem to be able to control it from the start. Chickens are creatures of habit. If they get used to laying somewhere other than in the nests, they may want to keep laying there even after the nests are open.

    Basically, if I am going to have a problem with chickens sleeping in the nest or with my nest design, I want to know it before they start to lay. As I mentioned, others have different opinions.

    One thing to watch for. Sometimes when the chicks are transitioning from sleeping on the floor to sleeping on the roosts, they may spend some nights in the nests. Usually they continue the transition, but not always. They may get in the habit of sleeping in the nests. Most of the time my chicks make that transition from the floor to the roosts around 10 to 12 weeks, well before they are ready to lay. It is probably a good idea to have the nests blocked off until they are used to sleeping on the roosts.
     
  3. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine slept in their boxes until they were 14-15 weeks old and then they outgrew them. other than cleaning the boxes, it wasn't a big deal. Once they got too big, they quit doing it. I think they were doing it to keep warm. I had 4 and they would squish themselves in them, it was funny. They just lay the eggs there now. If you have a lot of birds, I guess it may be a pain to have to clean them daily.
     

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