I'm not sure this is the right place to post this but my problem seems to touch on this! My hens should be laying eggs by the end of the month or so. I have a couple of roosters who are trying (and seem successful) at breeding these hens. I figure eggs should start pretty soon. From the start the hens seem reluctant to go in the nest boxes. They'll lay all over the floor or even on the spare straw bale underneath the nest boxes. The straw bale fits pretty close in so it doesn't give the hens much room to maneuver. I heard that putting golf balls in the nest box will sometimes help encourage a hen to lay or at least sit in the nest box. So I put a few golf balls in each box. Here's the weird thing. Some of the golf balls have disappeared! I've cleaned out the entire coop, several times, thinking somehow the golf balls are getting kicked, scratched or bumped out. But there's no sign of them. My first fear was rats but we've set traps and nothing gets caught. I don't feed inside my coop so there is no food or spillage. If it was warm weather, I might consider snakes but it's pretty cold here right now - low 30's at night. I've caught a few hens moving around in the nest boxes but not really laying down yet. Can't say they are doing normal hen behavior because they still seem to go to a corner or just flatten out a place on the floor. There are 5 nest boxes in a row with a little 2" wood piece they sort of have to step on or over to get into the nest box. The 2" front of the nest box was just built that way to help keep the eggs or chicks from falling right out. A perch stick runs the length of all the nest boxes so they can step in and out easily. No signs, chewing, tunnels that could be rats, no poop or anything to make me think we have rats inside the coop. We did have problems with mice for awhile but haven't even seen them now for days. I don't see how a mouse could move or eat a golf ball! My chickens are all bantams, not that big so surely they're not eating the golf balls! Any ideas?