Retrain a hen?

1 acre willows

Jan 15, 2018
So our girls free range all day, got no problem getting them to come home every night. But all of sudden I've been having serious issues getting them to lay in the boxes in the coop. And now that I have several new pullets starting to lay they are more inclined to lay outside. I have 8 nesting boxes for them, aside from locking them into the coop and run for a couple weeks I don't know what else to do to try and make them change for ways


Apr 27, 2017
North TX
Only one of my hens will use a nesting box. Habits are hard to break... I’ve tried ceramic eggs in the boxes, moving the eggs into the boxes. My boxes have curtains to make it nice and cozy. But nothing’s stopped my girls from laying in the coop floor. :barnie I’m just glad my girls still go in the coop to lay and it’s not an Easter egg hunt every evening!


Premium member
Jan 6, 2018
Centre, AL
I have been wondering, and worrying, about this very thing. Yep, I had to add the word worrying in there because that’s what I do. I overthink everything, especially if it’s something that’s new to me.
My pullets are 13 weeks old today and are already out and about in the yard, unlike my original hens who didn’t free range until they were a year old and were seasoned nestbox layers. I hope that I don’t have trouble with the littles trying to make nests and lay in the bushes. I have already thought/worried :gig about it and figured it would be best to leave them up until lunch. Hopefully the majority of them will get the idea. :fl Hopefully.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I have in the past but I've had to make roll away boxes because of a breaker..... so using ceramic eggs is kinda hard, no pun intended
Lock em up.

Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for a week or so can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop and maybe run 24/7 for a few days to a week, provided you have adequate space and ventilation, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.

You could bed the nests and use fakies until the youngsters get in the habit,
then slowly remove bedding to go back to roll away.
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