Opening nesting boxes

Sep 22, 2019
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Ontario Canada
So we are getting close now. We’ve patiently raised our girls from day old chicks and they are 18 weeks old now. We are thinking we should see our first eggs in the coming days or weeks. I blocked off the nesting boxes from the beginning. When should I open them up and prepare them ? I have been told to wait till they actually start to lay and I have also been told to start before they actually lay. I plan on using wood shavings and will place some golf balls in there. I would love to hear what all you seasoned chicken keepers do.
Thanks
 

DobieLover

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So we are getting close now. We’ve patiently raised our girls from day old chicks and they are 18 weeks old now. We are thinking we should see our first eggs in the coming days or weeks. I blocked off the nesting boxes from the beginning. When should I open them up and prepare them ? I have been told to wait till they actually start to lay and I have also been told to start before they actually lay. I plan on using wood shavings and will place some golf balls in there. I would love to hear what all you seasoned chicken keepers do.
Thanks
I opened mine at 15 weeks, long after they were well established at roosting where they were supposed to.
I have vinyl curtain across the openings to the nests to make the boxes a bit more dim and private and have one or two fake eggs in each box with a 4" thick bed of chopped straw.
You will still find eggs willy nilly around the run and coop as new layers don't really understand what is happening in the early days. My newest batch of pullets are all laying and I still find an occasional egg in the run, in their pen, on the poop board or on the coop floor under the nest boxes. But it's been a while.
 

Joyschickens

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Jan 23, 2018
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We waited until they were actually laying. We used a ceramic egg in each nesting box (we put a black dot on the end to avoid collecting the ceramic one in error). Our five have been laying for a year, they don't mess in the nesting boxes. Good luck, it's exciting to wait for that first egg!
 

DobieLover

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We waited until they were actually laying. We used a ceramic egg in each nesting box (we put a black dot on the end to avoid collecting the ceramic one in error). Our five have been laying for a year, they don't mess in the nesting boxes. Good luck, it's exciting to wait for that first egg!
It's good to allow the pullets access to the boxes before lay as they will explore them and "practice" and you are more likely to end up with birds actually laying in the designated location vs. finding their own, much less human convenient location to lay.
 

Ted_Harrell

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Sep 23, 2019
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It can be anywhere from 13 to 24 weeks depending on the breed. They can't lay eggs in them if they are closed off. As stated above, be patient with them, the chickens don't read all the latest chicken books and magazines, In the end they will find which box they like and probably all the hens in that pen will lay in that one box. You might even see one pacing back and forth if there is a hen already in the preferred nesting box. Good luck and enjoy your babies with benefits(laying of course)..
 

Joyschickens

Songster
Jan 23, 2018
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Vermont
It's good to allow the pullets access to the boxes before lay as they will explore them and "practice" and you are more likely to end up with birds actually laying in the designated location vs. finding their own, much less human convenient location to lay.
To make a correction to my post, we actually opened the nesting boxes when they started to squat ... before laying. Sorry about that.
 

rosemarythyme

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I would open them up now, for 2 reasons... first, it gives them a chance to explore the boxes before they start needing to lay (and hopefully they'll decide they like what they see) and second, it also lets you test to make sure no one is inclined to suddenly start sleeping in a box, so you can retrain them out of that before they start pooping in the nice clean boxes.
 

aart

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It can be anywhere from 13 to 24 weeks depending on the breed.
Never heard of a bird laying at 13 weeks...I wish!!

I would open them up now, for 2 reasons... first, it gives them a chance to explore the boxes before they start needing to lay (and hopefully they'll decide they like what they see) and second, it also lets you test to make sure no one is inclined to suddenly start sleeping in a box, so you can retrain them out of that before they start pooping in the nice clean boxes.
Ditto Dat!!^^^
 

MANNA-PRO

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