Nest boxes and egg laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jenn7000, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Jenn7000

    Jenn7000 New Egg

    Jan 27, 2015
    Hi all,

    I’m a “new egg” and could use some advice. My two Barnvelders are nearing egg-laying stage (I think), but I’m not sure when to ‘reveal’ their nest boxes. I did a few weeks ago and they started sleeping there, so now I’ve covered them each night and then ‘open’ them in the morning (after I get up - which is usually well-after them). So, I’m wondering should I start leaving them totally opened? They are free range, so I’m also curious as to how they’ll know to come back?

    And, in terms of chicken behaviour, they aren’t really ‘friendly.’ They seem to hate being picked up - any tricks and tips to get them used to that?

    Thank you!!
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator

    I'd suggest keep closing the nest boxes each night - the sooner they break the habit of considering the nests a sleeping area the better.

    A few questions that may help members to help you:

    1. Are your roosts higher than your nesting boxes?
    2. What do you use specifically for your roosts (e.g. tree branches, poles)
    3. Have you taken any steps to encourage roosting? (e.g. placing them on the roosts on an evening?)

    In terms of them being more friendly - if you can spare some time just to sit with them, give them treats (first on the ground and then see if they will take from your hands) and talk in a gentle, calm tone and don't make sudden movements you may have some degree of success. If you keep at it, they may become more friendly, although some chickens just don't like to be handled - period.

    Hope this helps a bit

    Good luck
    1 person likes this.
  3. Jenn7000

    Jenn7000 New Egg

    Jan 27, 2015
    Thank you.

    I think I’ve got them back on the roost now, but I’m afraid once I reveal the nest box that they’ll move back in. The roost is only slightly higher than the nest box.

    Re: their nature
    They are ‘chatty’, but they definitely don’t like the hand anywhere near them. The closest they’ll get is eating from my palm.

    Thanks for the continued advice everyone,

  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Well done! I'd hope that once they get used to the roosts they will remain there. They are creatures of habit, so fingers crossed the roost becomes a habit [​IMG]

  5. MikeTheGardener

    MikeTheGardener Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 3, 2014
    New Jersey
    This is interesting. I never had to hide the nesting boxes. My girls just kind of figured it out. Do you have a place for the them to roost at night?
  6. ChicKat

    ChicKat Chicken Obsessed Premium Member


    welcome to BYC.
    One thing that may help your process is to put fake eggs or even golf balls in the nesting boxes. Good luck with your chickens!
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Roosts are best about 12" higher than nests,
    long enough to give each bird about 12" of space,
    wide enough to be comfortable to hunker down on,
    easy to get up to and down from without crashing into anything.

    If roosts are amenable they shouldn't want to sleep in nests,
    but if they do, just keep covering nests at night before they go to roost.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Your situation is exactly why I suggest opening the nests before they start to lay. If you are going to have a problem, find out about it before you either teach them to lay somewhere other than your nests or you start getting poopy eggs. This way you can fix the problem in a timely manner.

    Chickens tend to roost on the highest thing they can get to. It sounds like yours can get to the roosts. Sometimes they can’t, say you have Silkies that can’t fly. And the roosts need to be noticeably higher. But just because they tend to roost on the highest thing available doesn’t mean they always will. They are creatures of habit. Sometimes they use the nests a night or two when transitioning to the roosts and just get stuck there. By blocking the nests off at night you can at least break them of that habit and force them to look elsewhere. A week is usually enough but some can be more stubborn that others.

    If your roost is only slightly higher than the nests I think it would be a great idea to raise the roost or lower the nests. It can only help as long as they can get to the roost.

    Another question. How many chickens and how much roost space do you have? Where they get to sleep depends on the pecking order. The higher ranking get to sleep where they want to. The weaker ones may get beat up if they don’t respect that. If they get tired of being beat up, they may abandon the roosts and find a safer place to sleep. To me it’s not so much “inches per bird” but having enough room that the weak can get away from the bullies. It’s pretty common for mine to have the top ranking ones in one area next to the window, the lowest ranking ones in the far corner, and the ones in the middle ranks in the middle.

    Chickens should not be sleeping in the nests if there are safe higher alternatives. But sometimes you have to do a little training.

    Good luck! Here is hoping for a clean first egg laid in a nest soon.

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