Poop in the nesting boxes! Help or Advice needed TY

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lilyrush, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. Lilyrush

    Lilyrush Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    Western Washington
    My chickens keep sleeping in the nesting boxes and I'm not sure how to get them to stop. My coop is about 8'x8' and I have 18 chickens. Four silkies, one cochin bantam, and the rest are regular sized. Half sleep on the roost bar but the rest are in my nest boxes which are full of poop now![​IMG] We got our first egg today and it wasn't even in the boxes but in the corner of the coop. How should we arrange the nest boxes and roosts to encourage the ladies out of the boxes at night and in there to lay? Here are pics of how it is now but it can all be easily moved.


    Standing in the doorway. Boxes to the right, bars to the left. (One bar fell down, we haven't fixed it yet since we're probably moving it.) We need to put a bar lower for the silkies or a ramp or something.


    I could really use some suggestions! Thank you! Oh and Merry Christmas!! [​IMG]
  2. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    I have to go to the coop and scare the hens that sleep in the nest box every night for a week. Some of the hens stopped sleep there and some will not. The one that refuse end up in the pot. If your hen don't lay now, it is a good time to block the nest box completely in the next few weeks. This allow the hens get use to sleep somewhere else.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  3. barneveldrerman

    barneveldrerman Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree with @speedy2020, if the hens are just begging to lay eggs it wouldn't hurt to close off the nesting boxes. Then after a few days they will get used to sleeping somewhere else.
  4. Lilyrush

    Lilyrush Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    Western Washington
    Covering or taking out the boxes is a great idea...didn't even think of that!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You have two currently unrelated issues, the egg dropped on the floor and the pullets sleeping in the nests. Shall we try to keep them unrelated?

    When a pullet first starts to lay it’s not unusual for things to be a little messed up. You might get soft shelled, really hard shelled, or no shell eggs. You can get yolk only, no yolk – just whites, double yolked, or some other type of weird egg. The same thing applies to behaviors. It’s not that unusual for a pullet to just drop her first few eggs wherever she happens to be, on the roost or walking around. Most pullet eggs, though small, are perfectly formed. Most pullets have control whenever they lay their first egg and lay it in place they want to make a nest. As complicated as the entire process the surprise is that so many get it all right.

    But wherever they lay that first controlled egg is usually where they want to return to lay all other eggs after that. That’s why I want my nests open when my pullets are just starting to lay. I don’t want to teach them to lay somewhere other than my nests.

    Why are your pullets sleeping in the nests? Are they only sleeping in the top nests? Chickens typically like to sleep as high as they can. The ones at the top of the pecking order get to sleep wherever they want and can be fairly brutal in enforcing those pecking order rights. You mentioned you have 18 pullets, though see my comments on Silkies below. How long is that roost? From the photo it does not look like that roost is higher than your top nests. It doesn’t look that long either, probably 8’.

    What I think is happening is that your roost isn’t all that high and doesn’t have enough room. The ones lower in the pecking order that don’t fit are going to the highest place they can find, your upper nests.

    So what can you do? My first suggestion is to raise that roost and install a second one. Put the first at least 12” away from the wall and the second at least 12” further out horizontally. I personally like them all the same height but some people stagger the height and it works out. Make sure they are higher than the nests.

    To get them to lay in the nests I suggest you put a fake egg in the nests. I use golf balls but a lot of people like wooden or ceramic eggs. Some people use plastic Easter eggs, though those can be really light and are easily scratched out. Most chickens tend to like to lay where another chicken is laying. That doesn’t always work, but it can help a lot. Also try to keep the randomly dropped eggs cleaned up so they don’t think that is a safe place to lay.

    In your case, especially if they are currently sleeping in the top nests, I’d block them off and try to get them to lay in the lower ones as soon as you get the roosts repositioned. With 18 pullets, four nests would probably be enough but there is nothing wrong with what you have. Since they are in the habit of sleeping in those nests you need to break that habit and give them a reason to look for other high place to sleep.

    One problem you have is that Silkies cannot fly. Some Silkies like to roost, others are quite happy to sleep on the floor. Since they can’t fly is could be hard for them to get to the roosts, especially if you raise them. It’s possible those are the ones causing you a problem and they are sleeping in the lower nests because that’s all they can get to. That would mean what I wrote above may not be that important. What to do about Silkies?

    One thing you could try is to build ramps so they can get to the higher roosts. They might use them, they might not. Another possibility is to build another low roost they can get to, maybe with a small ramp. Maybe make it a little higher than your lower nests if that’s where they are now sleeping. If they keep sleeping in the nests, make it very dark in the coop at night and move them to the new lower roost. They might eventually get the message that this is a good place to sleep. If the problem with pullets sleeping in the nests is only the Silkies in the lower nests, then put in a lower roost with a ramp and block off the lower nests while the upper nest are open.

    I certainly cannot guarantee that any of this will work, you just can’t guarantee behaviors with living animals. But hopefully this will provide some help. Good luck!
  6. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.


    I hold the bag in place with these paper binders.

    Easy Peasy Japaneasy

  7. Lilyrush

    Lilyrush Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    Western Washington
    Thank you so much! I moved some things around, added a third and much higher roost, lowered the nest boxes a bit, and added a few fake eggs.

    The lowest bar allows the silkies to jump up to the second bar which will hopefully keep them out of the nesting boxes. It wasn't just my silkies sleeping in them but also like 5 or 6 of my regular sized chickens. I'm hoping the addition of the third bar up high will give everyone room and options. If I find them in the nesting boxes I will cover the boxes at night. Hope this all works! Thanks again!
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That high roost in the rafters is way too high, IMO (someone's gonna get hurt flying/jumping down from it) and probably unnecessary.
    Plus I like my birds to roost within my reach as I do exams at night when they are easy to 'catch'.
    How long are the two lower roosts(in feet) and how many birds do you have?

    I have a hinged cover for my nest bank.
    Every year I have to cover nests late in afternoon then open back up after dark until pullets are laying or they want to sleep in them.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by