questions about poop in the lay boxes and more

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by playmeasong, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. playmeasong

    playmeasong Chirping

    Apr 9, 2008
    South Jersey
    Hi all, my 4 girls should be laying in the next few weeks and are starting to act funny. They sleep either in the next boxes or on the rim of them, and they prefer to poop in the boxes, leaving me with a little mess to stir around or scoop out. Will they lay in the boxes after using it as a dump area?

    Also, i am reading that people put in golf balls to encourage laying. Any idea how much time that takes hens to get the picture and lay after balls are put in? Do you put 1 or 2 in each box?

    Also is oyster shell mandatory for laying or do they get enough of this from pecking at the ground?

    The gal who posted in the summer about fears about zoning bothering us...still have the 4 hens!
  2. Nemo

    Nemo Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    I'm in the same boat as you, with fifteen 21-week-old Buff Orpingtons in our coop. I'm about ready to start squeezing them to see if that will start the eggs. [​IMG]

    I haven't found a solution for pooping in the nest boxes. Some people say block off the boxes for a while, and they'll stop, but I don't want to do that so that they can lay eggs in there, whenever that day comes. I have more boxes than I need, so I've only put straw and shavings into four, and left the others empty, making them easier to clean out.

    I put golf balls in the boxes about a month ago. It's s'posed to give the hens the idea that this is a safe place to lay an egg. It also gives them time to figure out that round things in the nest aren't edible. It doesn't encourage them to lay eggs, as far as I know.

    Oyster shells, or some source of calcium, is a must for layers. It is different than grit, which they can pick up from the ground. They need enough calcium to produce egg shells. Wild birds get enough from their food, but they don't lay as many eggs as chickens. Some people dry and crush their hens' egg shells and feed it back to them, but the Law of Diminishing Returns shows that that is just supplementary. You need more input than you get out.

    I forgot to say that one or two golf balls should be more than enough.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2008
  3. tvtaber

    tvtaber Songster

    Aug 2, 2007
    Central CA
    I have not found any way to keep them from sleeping in the boxes. If the roosts are higher than the nests they are supposed to prefer the roosts, but I have a RIR that has prefered the box from day one. I go out and put her on the roost, but I am sure she just moves back to her "bed" as soon as I leave. It does make a mess but luckily no one lays in that box.

    The golf ball gives them the idea that that is a safe place to lay an egg (as Nemo said) but only nature can determine when they start laying. The trick is WHEN they start laying to get them to lay in the nests as quickly as possible to keep the eggs cleaner and easier to find! I would put one or two in the nest you want them to lay in, not the poopy ones if you can help it.

    As for the oyster shell, i again agree with Nemo. It makes no sense that you can return the egg shells again and again and have that be enough. And the rocks they get from the ground replace grit but not the calcium they get from the shells. Based in the quantity of oyster shell I go through, they need it. I offer it in a seperate feeder and they eat about a quart of it every month (8 layers), plus they have layer feed with calcium. Not sure on the cost but it is cheap so better to just have it in there for them.
  4. whatsup chickenbutt

    whatsup chickenbutt Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    I have the same problem with my nest boxes. All of mine sleep in them. they are up higher than the roosts, so im going to move them as soon as i get the chance. Im going to put the nest boxes at the lowest spot, and cover them, and put the roosts up above. hopefully this will help, but somehow I get the feeling they will follow the nest boxes. Mine still lay in them, but the eggs are gross sometimes. It was funny though, a few nights ago, for some reason they ALL slept on the roost. I went out in the evening and they were all there, and the next morning there was a thick line of poop all the way across the floor under the roost. That has never been there. They are such followers.
  5. greenmulberry

    greenmulberry Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    I had two hens that were sleeping in the next box at night.

    I went out every night, and kicked them out. Every single night, kicked them out of the boxes. One caught on right quick, and stopped, the other took a little while longer to learn that she gets no rest in the nest box.
  6. gachickeeper

    gachickeeper In the Brooder

    May 25, 2008
    Middle GA
    Nemo we are in the same boat except I have 7 buffs and they were 24 weeks yesterday. Where are the eggs? [​IMG] Keep me posted if you get any [​IMG]
  7. ZooMummzy

    ZooMummzy Queen of the Zoo

    Mar 31, 2008
    Philomath, Oregon
    I have eggs from 2 out of my 3 Buffs (all 28 weeks) but I also have the poop in nest box problem. One of my RIR's just cannot be broke from roosting right on the edge it at night. I'm tired of chasing her off so I just clean out that box more than the others. I figure in the scheme of things, it's really not a big deal. It seems to be the poop box, not the egg box, thankfully [​IMG]
  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    Also is oyster shell mandatory for laying or do they get enough of this from pecking at the ground?

    Free range chickens would probably get enough calcium. Confined to a run probably not. But they only way you would be able to tell is to not have problems (weak or no shells). By that time it might cause problems (egg eating). So, a calcium source is not mandatory, more like insurance.

    If you are feeding them a commercial layer ration in addition to free range you probably don't need oyster shell. But offering it wouldn't hurt and would provide insurance. If you offer it and they don't eat it, they are getting enough calcium and your only loss is the $.

    If you are going to encourage/force winter laying, free range chickens will probably not find enough calcium in winter.​
  9. gachickeeper

    gachickeeper In the Brooder

    May 25, 2008
    Middle GA
    What is the best way to feed oyster shell? Maybe in a bowl?
  10. playmeasong

    playmeasong Chirping

    Apr 9, 2008
    South Jersey
    well thanks for all the helpful replies. I started filling up the nest boxes up to the top of the front edge with wood chips, hopefully do decrease sleeping in there, but they are still pooping it up. I don't think I want to go in there and remove them from the box while sleeping, since I don't have a good light to shine in there and I'm not sure what I'd do if they thrash about once I upset them.
    I did put in some golf balls too--so I am hoping that does the trick!

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