How high off the floor are the nests? How big is the opening? How thick is the material the lip is made of, assuming there is some type of lip? Do you have normal chickens or do you have chickens that can’t fly like Silkies and/or chickens that can’t see due to their head being covered by feathers? How much clear room is there in the coop so they can spread their wings when they jump/fly?
Different things factor into whether a perch is needed or not, but a perch at or just below the level of the nest box opening won’t hurt anything as long as your coop is big enough that you can move in there without that perch being in your way. With normal chickens I much prefer a perch instead of a ramp. They take up a lot less space and work very well. With exotic chickens a ramp may be necessary.
If you are worried about chickens pooping in the nests, have your regular roosts higher than the nests or this perch. That will solve the vast majority of these types of problems. Sometimes, especially if the roost space is kind of tight, a bully will run a weaker chicken off the roosts to go look for a safer place to sleep. That will probably be your nest whether you have a perch in front of it or not.
The nest boxes are about 2 1/2 feet off the floor of the coop. We have normal chickens a buff, sex link, silver laced and an ameracauna. The lip is only a 1.4 inch thick, piece of plywood, nest box openings with lip are about 10 inches. The reason why I am asking about a perch is because two of the hens started laying but will not go in nest boxes. They were going in them and scratching everything out and laying on the floor. Have tried golf balls in there and nothing has worked yet but they are just starting to lay and are learning. So I thought maybe adding a perch would help that way they can jump onto it and them jump in nest boxes.
Try raising the lip so they can’t scratch things out. I’ve had that problem before and that was the fix. That also might make the nest feel a little more secure and safe so maybe they will start to use it.
If you had said 2’, I’d have said a perch is not needed. At 2-1/2 feet it’s a little more iffy. If they are getting up there to scratch the bedding out, they are getting up there so I’m not sure how necessary it really is. Still, I’d probably add a perch.
Since they have just started, are they laying in the same spot each day or are they moving around? Sometimes when a pullet starts to lay she seems to have no control over the process. She just drops the egg wherever she happens to be. Normally they gain control over the process pretty quickly and many have control from the start, but each pullet is different. If the egg is in the same place every day, she has decided that is where her nest needs to be. If she is randomly dropping them, raise that lip and put that perch on. Or maybe use something about 1-1/2” wide like a 2x4 to raise that lip and give them something wide to land on. The perch doesn’t need to be outside the nest box opening. They just need a good place to land. And keep the golf ball in there. Fake eggs do help.
If she is laying in a nest on the floor you can try a few things. If it is away from your nests, try putting a cardboard box, cat litter pan, or some type of open nest there for her to lay in. After she has started laying in it, gradually move it a few inches a day toward your regular nests. Once she is used to laying in the area of your nests, take the other nest away and see if she will make the switch.
I made some of my nests so I could lock a chicken in there if I wanted to. I’m retired so I am around most days. When I have a hen laying in the floor, I catch her on her nest and lock her in a nest box until she lays the egg. That usually takes about a half hour though I had one hen that took three hours. Stubborn hen. Most of the time I only have to do that once and they catch on, though I had to do that stubborn hen twice before she caught on.
I added a strip of plywood to make the lip about 2 1/2 inches which reduced the opening. I feel that adding any more of a lip will really deter and make it nearly impossible for them to get in. The two hens who are laying both are laying in the same corner on the floor. Was talking to someone who mentioned to lock the two hens in the nest boxes first thing in the morning until they lay. But not sure how to lock them in as our nest boxes were not built for that. I also have thought about putting cardboard box just below nest boxes to see if that would help. I will take some pictures of our set up and post them. Thanks for the input!
Locking them in the nests would only cause undue stress, not a good suggestion IMO.
Maybe they meant to lock them in the coop if they are laying out in the run or in a range area?
It takes new layers a while, up to a month, to figure it all out...before that eggs can be found hither and yon.
Pics of your coop and nests would help folks make viable suggestions.
I do think the perches in front of the nests are a good idea, they can travel back and forth to check things out before choosing a depository.
I use a 2x4 wide side up and have ramps to the perch because my coop is only 6 feet wide and the nests are 2 feet up, so not much room to fly down without a crash.
Some jump down, the creaky old ladies use the ramp.
Installed perch yesterday. It seems to have made it easier for hens to get to nest boxes. Matter of fact one layer an egg in one. After she scratched out all the pine shavings. Then another played on the floor later in afternoon. Was glad to have one egg in nest boxes.