Pullets constantly laying in coop nests not in nesting box?

jk_vt

Chirping
Feb 21, 2021
23
69
56
Hey BYC peeps,
Last September we inherited 4 Australorp hens and a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster (mixed) and added 3 Easter Eggers and 3 golden laced Wyandotte chics this late March. This is our first go with raising chickens so the start of the egg laying process is new for us. The Easter Eggers pullets started laying very infrequently at 4 months and now all the pullets are laying the small pullet sized eggs more frequently. The first pullet egg was found in the nesting box and since then we have not found anymore there. They have all been laying in different "nests" within the corners of the coop and we have not had any of the pullets lay in the nesting boxes since the first one. We have a camera set up in the coop and we have caught some of them trying to lay in the nests and we have put them in the nesting boxes and they leave right away. We have also put them in and closed the opening to nesting boxes, but they get too stressed out so we just let them out and they go to the conners of the coop and lay the egg there. We use hemp bedding in coop and I have pine shavings in the nesting box and have put ceramic eggs in the nesting box, but that doesn't seem to make a difference so I have removed them. The older hens have no problem laying in the nesting box so we are a little perplexed on this.

Is there anything we can do to prevent it or should we even worry about this? Are the pullets staying away because of pecking order and they don't want to upset the hens? Any help or suggestions are welcome. I have attached a photo of the coop and where they are laying. Coop.jpg
 

jk_vt

Chirping
Feb 21, 2021
23
69
56
I don't think anything's wrong. They just like that spot better for some reason understood only by chickens. Try blocking the spots they like to lay with something (put a bucket, chair, bag of feed, etc, in every corner), and put some of the hemp bedding that they prefer into the boxes.
Thanks for the insight. I will definitely add the hemp bedding to the nesting boxes. We have actually blocked all the nesting areas and they just make new ones!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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We have a camera set up in the coop and we have caught some of them trying to lay in the nests and we have put them in the nesting boxes and they leave right away. We have also put them in and closed the opening to nesting boxes, but they get too stressed out so we just let them out and they go to the conners of the coop and lay the egg there.
When you manually put them in the nest boxes, do you just plop them in there or keep them inside?

When I had similar issues, when the bird went to their preferred spot to lay, I'd go and pick them up, stick them in a nest box, and barricade them in using my arms to cover the exit. 30-60 seconds was all they needed to calm down and start exploring the box and decide that maybe it wasn't such a bad place to be. They each started reliably using the boxes after that.

You mentioned having doors that could close over the nest boxes... any photos of those? Are they like open mesh so they can still see out, or solid and blocking all the light?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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How many nest boxes do you have?
I'd block the 'nests' on the floor by placing a box or bucket or something so that they cannot easily lay there.
Don't force them into the nests too much as it could turn them off of them forever.
 

jk_vt

Chirping
Feb 21, 2021
23
69
56
When you manually put them in the nest boxes, do you just plop them in there or keep them inside?

When I had similar issues, when the bird went to their preferred spot to lay, I'd go and pick them up, stick them in a nest box, and barricade them in using my arms to cover the exit. 30-60 seconds was all they needed to calm down and start exploring the box and decide that maybe it wasn't such a bad place to be. They each started reliably using the boxes after that.

You mentioned having doors that could close over the nest boxes... any photos of those? Are they like open mesh so they can still see out, or solid and blocking all the light?
I actually put them in the nesting box (photo attached on first post) and cover most of the entrance with some plywood and held it there so she could not leave. I didn’t cover the whole thing and she could stick her head out and all she did was pace back and forth and try to get out. After 5-8 minutes we just let her out.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,888
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WA, Pac NW
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I actually put them in the nesting box (photo attached on first post) and cover most of the entrance with some plywood and held it there so she could not leave. I didn’t cover the whole thing and she could stick her head out and all she did was pace back and forth and try to get out. After 5-8 minutes we just let her out.
I think being boxed in just made her panic - and since she could stick her head out she likely figured if she just worked at it she could get out.

*Might* want to see if you can rig up something that's wire mesh instead, so she can't poke her head out but can easily see out... I know there's been a couple folks on here who've made locking nest boxes to train new layers but can't remember who off the top of my head, or how they were constructed.
 

jk_vt

Chirping
Feb 21, 2021
23
69
56
How many nest boxes do you have?
I'd block the 'nests' on the floor by placing a box or bucket or something so that they cannot easily lay there.
Don't force them into the nests too much as it could turn them off of them forever.
it is a shared nesting box that has room for 3. I am trying to block the "nesting" spots in the coop and see what happens.
 

Borders3

Songster
Dec 28, 2019
74
192
113
Malton,North Yorkshire UK
Maybe they are being bullied out/put off by the bigger hens, maybe it's too dark in there for them? I would put a box in one of the corners where they lay, it doesn't really matter that they don't want to lay in the communal nest box, so long as they lay and it is better for you to be able to gather them from one place as to all over. The chickens would be happier and there would be no stress for them or for you.
 
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