Nesting in cedar tree! Help!


11 Years
Sep 17, 2008
Hello there all, I'm new!

My 20 week old black sexlinks are nesting in and under a cedar tree. they have nesting boxes in their house but they won't use them. Can I coax them somehow? they are due to start laying any day.
My girls free-range and I was worried about where they would start to I confined them to their coop at about the time of first laying and they started to use the nest boxes. This took about two weeks. Never had a problem with them laying anywhere else unless they could not get into the coop for some reason.
Thank you for the info! There are 14 of them and they don't have a pen, just a house that is 6ft by 6 ft. Won't they be too crammped?
What do you mean by nesting?

Are you sure they are not just dust bathing?

My hens run for the spruce tree to dust bath, the ground is quite soft under there and they feel protected by all the low lying branches.
my leghorn hen likes to be on a branch on my oak tree when its time for bed, I gently prod her with the handle of the shovel till she jumps down.Then I put her to bed.
Now, if she sees me coming she gets down and goes in on her own.
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Try putting them on a feeding schedule where their feed gets placed in the coop shortly before dusk. Don't starve them but make sure they are wanting the feed you serve and will come at the end of the day when they know it will be in the coop. Then just close the door. But free them when the sun comes up!

You ask if they will be too cramped. Depends on whether they will be confined to the coop if snow falls in your area or have access to the outdoors at all times. If they will be spending the winter inside, then yes, you have way too many birds for that small a space. Get rid of 5 or 6. If your climate is such that in the dead of winter they will use the coop to sleep in and still have the outside world to spend every waking hour in, then the coop as a dormitory is probably ok. Time will tell if they will use your nest boxes. If they don't use them from the start, I think you will have trouble encouraging them to do so when they get used to laying eggs under the porch, in the back seat of the old DeSoto or in the hollow log down by the creek.

If you had an adequate space for your birds, I'd suggest confining them until they learned what the boxes are for, but with too many birds as you have, it might just cause some nasty problems in the flock.

Perhaps you can build a temporary outdoor pen to confine them during the early egg-laying period? It's not the most inhumane thing you could do and they might get used to laying in the nests (or at least in the coop.)

(No experience with truly free-range hens. Here, "free-range" is synonymous with "fresh chicken buffet" for raccoons, fishers, coyotes, hawks and eagles.)

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Hey there Wayne, thanks for the advise. We have never had problems with getting them to bed at night. Around eight or so they just head to the coop. We've decided to not let them out until 2pm for a couple days and see if that won't get them used to the boxes. A pen is in the near future... so many projects, so little time!

A feeding schedule sounds good too. They probably need some structure or they might get rebellious!

So you think eight hens will be sufficient for layers? We are a family of four. We purchased 14 chicks because they guaranteed that 85% would be hens. We were expecting some cockerels for eatin' but it just didn't work out that way.

Thanks again

so many projects, so little time!

This is what my DH says every day when he wakes up, and every night before he goes to sleep!

You should have PLENTY of eggs for your family with the hens you've got. Of course... you could always get a few more.

Let us know when you get your first eggs. Tradition has it that you take pics and post them asap.
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