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One hen has started sleeping on edge of nesting box instead of roost

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Katzmum, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Katzmum

    Katzmum New Egg

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    May 13, 2013
    Gold Bar, WA
    I have 3 hens and one rooster all 6 months old and until recently all four were sleeping on the top roosting bar (of two). Recently one, who has become the lowest in the pecking order, has started sleeping on the edge of the nesting boxes - she seems scared of the dominant hen who I have observed chasing her away from the feed trough etc. For a while the other lower status hen was also trying the nesting box with her, but now one seems to be happy back on the roost. We added a third roost a little further away from the two existing ones which are at different heights a distance apart. It is at the same height as the higher bar. So far none of the hens seem interested at all.

    We have been opening the back of the nesting boxes and shooing Dottie out but she just goes straight back on most nights, though once she was accepted back onto the top roosting bar.

    My question is whether it is worth the effort to keep shooing her away or if it matters that she is using one of the nesting boxes (which is not too difficult to clean. None of the hens has used this particular box to lay in.

    Thanks.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    It's just a bad habit to let Dottie get into. What you need to do to stop this is to block off the nest box at night. Hopefully, she hasn't been doing it long enough to have made it a solid habit. After a couple weeks of being blocked from the nest, you can quit doing it and see if she's reformed.

    Usually there's a reason why they start doing this. It usually is to avoid the stress and competition of roosting when there's a lot of pecking and shoving. Refereeing sometimes can help this if you can figure out who the domineering ones are and encourage the timid one to use the opposite end of the perch.

    Providing additional perches doesn't always solve things. Most chickens, even the timid ones, find comfort roosting next to their mates. I've tacked a couple of Naugahyde curtains to the ceiling over the perch that I can drop when roosting gets too rambunctious. You might figure out how to rig some kind of partitions on your perch.

    I have another lower perch that has been divided into thirds by Naugahyde curtains, and it's a big hit with several of the hens who don't like the competition up on the main perch.

    The trouble with letting Dottie sleep in the nest is that it'll soon catch on and others will be doing it. Then the mess won't be so easy and quick to keep cleaning up.
     
  3. Katzmum

    Katzmum New Egg

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    May 13, 2013
    Gold Bar, WA
    Thank you very much for the advice - we will keep stopping her from staying on the edge of the nests - she was there again this evening but she went to the lower roost after being pushed away. Tomorrow we will take your advice and start blocking off the nesting box area at night. May also use your ideas about separating areas on the roosts.

    Much appreciated!
     
  4. Katzmum

    Katzmum New Egg

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    May 13, 2013
    Gold Bar, WA
    P.S. I see you have "four obnoxious Speckled Sussex Hens" and also some Wyandottes. What is that makes the SS's obnoxious? Susie is our SS and she is the second lower pecking order hen and very sweet though somewhat spacey - often finds herself left behind when the others move on and looks up sort of surprised and has to go running after them. Dottie is a Blue Wyandotte. The two of them have just started laying (Maggie the Cuckoo Marans has been laying beautiful bronze eggs for a few weeks - maybe that is why she has become dominant and rather obnoxious) and we do not know who is laying the paler eggs and who is laying the mid brown ones. Any ideas how to tell the eggs apart? Maggie was easy as she makes a huge noise when she lays but often the other two appear coming out of the coop together but only 1 egg left. We are just curious!
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Well, my four Sussex may be obnoxious, but they're very lovable. I guess they're obnoxious because they're fearless, domineering, two of them are extremely loud and vocal, and overall, they all make their presence noticeable.

    The Sussex eggs are similar in color to the Wyandotte eggs, but the Wyandottes lay large eggs compared to the Sussex medium to smalls.
     
  6. memphis

    memphis Overrun With Chickens

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    I love my Speckled Sussex for the same reasons. Your Sussex eggs should be smaller & lighter in color.
     

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