Nothing but poop in the nest boxes

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Nugget, May 7, 2011.

  1. Nugget

    Nugget Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2007
    Hi all, I have a couple of questions if I may. One is more appropriate for this thread than the other, but I'll post them both.

    1) My hens poop in their nest boxes. Almost every day I have to change out the wood chips and it's tiresome. When I built the coop (floor 6x8') I unfortunately put the nest boxes higher than their perches, and since they like to roost on the highest point in the coop, that's where they sleep, with their butts in the nests, pooping and pooping. The nest boxes are a convenient height for me to reach so I'd rather not change them. I would like to put a higher perch in the coop, but this would be about 5 feet off the floor. My girls frequently jump and flap to the floor. Do you think this would hurt them to drop from 5 feet?

    The nests are on the back of the coop along the 6' wall about 4' off the floor. The perch is along the left long wall, built like a ladder, and the top perch is about 3.5' off the floor. There isn't much room to make a longer, taller ladder. I thought I would get rid of the ladder and hang a 2x4 like a shelf along the left wall, about 5' off the floor and 2' out from the wall, then make a long, narrow ladder to run down along the wall behind the perch to the floor. This seems space-efficient, and should keep cleaning up in there unobstructed. Does this seem reasonable? Are they going to hurt themselves jumping down? Any other suggestions?

    2) The hens will be 4 this year and they apparently retired in November. It's been 6 months with almost no eggs. When I did my reading before getting hens I had the impression that egg production would decrease over the years, but that even a 12 year old hen might still produce a few eggs for you. Is this pretty typical? I check each day wondering if they will start back up again as the weather gets warmer but nothing... Is it time for some young blood, or might they start producing again if I wait for them?


    Thanks!
     
  2. mamabigbird

    mamabigbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Vancouver Island, B.C.,
    I have had an occasional hen get the bright idea to sleep in the nest box and yes poop happens.
    There is a ledge that runs in front of their nest boxes for them to walk along so I would go into the coop just before they were likely to go to bed
    and place a piece of board on the ledge up against the front of the nest boxes so they couldn't go in them.
    Then when it gets dark, and they have all gone to the roosts, I go back in and remove the barrier so they can go in to lay eggs in the morning.
    Usually chickens won't move after dark, so they stay on the roost.

    My roosts are thick branches that are staggered in position.
    One at about 2 feet off the floor and the next one at about 4 feet and then the highest one is about six feet off the floor.
    They sort of hop from one to the next and most sleep on the top one with a few on the middle one,
    so you can put one up very high if they have a ramp or staggered roosts so they don't have to jump so far down.
    Some of my girls are very heavy and I would worry about them jumping from too high up.

    It sounds like you may have some retired layers on your hand and maybe it's time for some younger ones.
    Do you have a space that young ones can grow out in?
    Otherwise the older ones might bully young or new hens.
    They need an adjustment period where they can give each other the stink-eye but not be able to fight.
    Chicken politics! A few weeks of seeing each other usually works, plus you can make sure the new ones are healthy
    before mixing them together.

    When it comes to retired layers, some people cull them but I prefer to think of them as coop insulators and guardians of the younger ones.
    I let them live out their years until they die of old age.
    But that is my opinion and to each their own.

    Hope this has been helpful and not too long winded. LOL.
     
  3. Nugget

    Nugget Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2007
    Thanks mama [​IMG] I'm with you, I plan to let these hens live out their lives in comfort and I'll look into getting a few hatching eggs this summer. I think I will try putting in a higher roost and see how that pans out. If they still want to use the nests I'll try blocking them off or make some other adjustments. Silly beasts [​IMG]

    Glad to know that 6' shouldn't be too high for them
     
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I have one of these to collect eggs. I have some disability issues. I think several different places might carry them. It makes it really easy for me to collect eggs down lower. http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/e_z_reacher.html

    You
    could also block the nests every night.

    I wouldn't want my chickens having to jump down that far every day, if I didn't have to. I think it's harder on their joints. Maybe you could set up a ramp for them, although they don't always use ramps getting down.

    We use supplemental lighting, so our chickens never stopped laying over the winter. It seems like it would be far enough along in the year for them to have started laying again. Do they free range at all? If they do, I wonder if they're laying somewhere else. That would be my first guess. With the nests full of poop, they may prefer to find an alternate place to lay.

    Our 4 year olds are laying 3 out of 4 days, but they have been especially good layers. As 3 year olds, they were still laying an egg a day. Are they getting a balanced feed with enough protein? Any extra high carb foods like scratch or scraps? That can make a difference, too.
     
  5. Nugget

    Nugget Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2007
    I put in a higher perch and there is a chain of steps they can use to hop up and down. Hopefully this will help. I'm surprised how challenging it can be to work with the limited space in there.

    They are fed commercial layer pellets. I do toss in bread or supper leftovers now and then but that's not a big part of their diet. They are wyandottes, orpingtons, an australorp and a bantam game hen, and they have been laying almost nothing over the past 5-6 months. I guess they read the email I sent the breeder today asking for hatching eggs, because I got 2 eggs [​IMG] I wish they had the track record yours do WW. I've been reminding them since fall that they're all a bunch of freeloaders [​IMG]
     

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