Proactive question about nest boxes and Light


May 22, 2019
Clinton (piedmont) S.C.
Question. Do I need additional ambient light in my nest boxes?
My Easter Eggers just hit the 20-week mark. After reading comments here, I'm not anxious as they could take up to 40 weeks to lay. But just interested to find out what the best way to encourage them to use nesting boxes once they do start.
They are in a 16 by 16 run with a coop of 4 feet by 6 feet. The Coop has a door of 1 foot by 1 foot which stays open all day. There are two windows on opposite walls that are 8 in by 8 in for ventilation. The laying boxes are each 18 in wide and 14 in tall and 18 in deep. There is a curtain of shredded cloth across each box to ensure privacy. The run and the coop are in heavy shade all day. Surrounded by mature trees. The coop is opened at 7 a.m. and closed shortly after the birds go to roost around 8 p.m. currently. I have never observed, and I do a lot of observation, any chicken going into the coop until Twilight starts approaching. I purchased a battery operated push on push off light at Dollar Tree and if I need the chickens to roost a few minutes early I turn it on. They almost immediately go into the coop and roost. Since they have passed a 20-week mark I check the entire run and the nest boxes daily, just in case. I find no evidence (poop or feathers) that a chicken has ever been in any of the three nest boxes.
I don't think I'm too far from eggs. Half of the pullets have developed on again off again bright red pea Combs. They were my ex GF pets. I was the hardware guy. I built everything, she played with them. So I have not bonded enough with them to tell if they squat or not. Again, not anxious about when they will start. Just wondering. If they won't even go into the coop during the daytime, will they start seeking out the dark hidden egg boxes when it is time for them to lay? Or do I need to enlarge / add to the existing ventilation windows?
Excellent question. :thumbsup

From my experience they prefer dark nests so I would not add light.
Placing fake eggs in the nests will help them learn to lay there.
To help them see those fakes you may need to the back the curtains until they are actively laying. Once they are using the nests you can release the curtains.

Don't be discouraged if at first you find eggs other places. It takes them a bit to get into the swing of things.
Once they start squatting, you will know it. You walk past a chicken, and instead of running away squawking, she hunkers down in place. Of course, if you don't react, in a few seconds she will stand up and run away. But it is a definite difference in their behavior. You can choose to scratch their back a little while they are still. I think it will help you bond with them. Good luck!
My chickens only go in the coop to roost.... and lay eggs :) Chickens seem to prefer a dark secluded spot to lay their eggs, so I wouldn't add light. Putting fake eggs in the nest boxes is a really good idea though. Beyond that I wouldn't worry too much. :)
The laying boxes are each 18 in wide and 14 in tall and 18 in deep. There is a curtain of shredded cloth across each box to ensure privacy.
Why "shredded"? Can you post a pic?
IMO curtains are unnecessary, could be off putting, and any loose 'threads' can cause injury...
....'privacy' is not needed, they just need to feel 'safe'.
Nests need to be easy to access and some fake eggs in nests can help show them where to lay.

Here's some tips on how to tell......

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