New layers, nest box questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by vickichicki, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. vickichicki

    vickichicki Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2012
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    I have 9 RIR girls and a Roo.

    We finally got our first eggs Saturday morning. The girls laid 3 eggs and one of those was bigger than the store purchased x-large in my fridge [​IMG]. We got 2 more eggs Sunday.

    One of the eggs were broken on the end but the membrane inside was still intact. I can only assume it was broken when it hit the nest box. All of the eggs have looked great. I am dead excited about this!

    Couple of question if someone want to enlighten me would be great.

    I have been using straw for the nest boxes, however they all seem dead excited about the material and spend their time stripping it out and digging through it. Suggestions for something else to use instead? Something less appealing on the fun factor, but still functional. I assume the eggs laid in the bare boxes will be fine, just wanted something to cushion the egg so we have no more broken eggs. Will 'pet bedding' work?

    I also have 4 nest boxes at this time. The three eggs on the first day were laid in separate boxes. I am worried about them all wanting to lay in the same box. At this time we did not get the nest boxes built that we had planned for due to the turn in the weather, so we did the 5 gallon buckets. Will it be safe for the eggs for them to use the same box? With them picking the long weekend to start laying I have been able to go outside and check for eggs, obviously when I head back to work I will not be checking every other hour.

    Can anyone suggest a method to check which girls are laying? I was going to tag their legs and I had read on here about using food colouring on their vents. Any other suggestions?

    Finally a question I am sure you have not had here yet [​IMG]

    Can I assume the egg production will be very sporadic for a few months as this is their first laying season?

    Thanking you all as always!
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Yay! Congrats on your first eggs. That is very exciting.

    I use pine shavings in my boxes. I read about lots of people using straw as well. If they are new layers and new to the boxes they may just be curious. You also might want to try adding a small lip or edge to the bottom of your bucket. They really like to kick around the material a little as part of the laying process and a little lip would help keep the material in.

    Chickens like to lay in the same nest box. This is normal behavior and is not a problem. 4 boxes to 9 hens is a fine ratio. You could get away with 3 boxes if you wanted. I have 6 hens and 2 boxes and they only lay in one of them, sometimes 2 or 3 crammed in. They feel safer laying eggs in a place that another hen has already deemed acceptable. If I move my fake egg to the other box they all switch to that box. Silly. Just collect eggs daily or twice daily if you are available and they will be fine.

    I'll leave the egg tagging question to someone else - I have always had a mixed flock with different egg colors and sizes so I have never had to deal with the matching eggs issue. When a hen is about to start laying her combs and waggles will get fuller and more red and she will general start to squat when approached. You might be able to use these physical characteristics to help you guess who has matured first.

    Yes. egg production will like to be a little off to start and you might see a few strange eggs with weird shapes or no shells. Don't panic. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to work out all the kinks. This may be why you found cracked shells. It could be the eggs are s bit thin. You may want to add a little oyster shell on the side for calcium.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  3. vickichicki

    vickichicki Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2012
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Thank you so much for the awesome replies to my questions!

    I did do ahead and cut a lip in the lids for the buckets as per suggestions on this wonderful site, which does aid a little when they are shuffling around in there. I shall go ahead and try the pine savings, hopefully that will be less fun to pull out.

    I feel better knowing about them sharing the boxes. Hopefully their 'spidey sense' will work when they are climbing in on top of the other eggs.

    The eggs so far (including two more since I posted my thread) have actually been good shaped, uniform in colour and the shells are rather firm. More so than the store purchased ones. I am sure as time goes by there will be a few that will freak me out.

    Out of the 7 eggs collected we tagged 5 of them being fertile, with a nice clear bullseye on them. This is putting my husband a little, although I am sure he will come around. However really great news for the possibility of hatching some come spring.

    Another question that is not really super important for an answer, maybe someone can help.

    I am looking for some smaller egg cartons. I have looked online and the only smaller cartons (2's & 4's) are novelty items that cost $10 for 10.
    As we do not have many hens, I would only be giving them away in smaller batches. Do not want to seem cheap only putting 3 into a 12 box! Smallest boxes I have seen are the 6's. Anyone have a packing idea or know where I can get smaller boxes?

    Yet again.. thank you ChickensRDinos [​IMG]

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