Silly nesting behavior

JordanFarm

In the Brooder
Jan 29, 2018
17
19
44
NH
This may simply be entertaining for you but if anyone has any ideas I'm all ears. My five April 2018 girls started laying this fall and are really pretty consistent about it. At first one preferred a spot in the hayloft - I finally found it and was collecting from up there but then she stopped laying there. I think mostly they lay in their nest box - the one the older girls (who are now all gone - old age) preferred. They have a total of 4 places in their big coop they can lay but one is a serious favorite.

Last Friday I realized I'd only gotten 2 eggs for 2 days. Hmmm. What's up - getting dark? Someone found a new spot?

Saturday morning I see one of them sitting in a sunny corner spot outside where the barn meets the ellway. Lots of leaves to sit in. And when she gets up and starts telling the world about her accomplishments I find 8 eggs there!!

Then I see two of the others sitting there throughout the day and picked up 2 more eggs. On Sunday you would have thought I'd caused the sun to rise in the North. There was great consternation that the outside nest was found - stomping around, chattering at me, going into their coop (a big horse stall in the barn) and making a huge production of scratching in one of the lesser used nests. But only 2 eggs on Sunday.

Today I kept them inside until noontime and there were 3 eggs there. I don't know what I'll find when I get home- one definitely is an afternoon layer.

I'm just surprised at how mad they were that their outside nest had been discovered - and why would they have started laying outside in December when it's super cold?

Since I know they all can lay inside - I've found 5 eggs on most days - why do they decide to find a new spot?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,705
130,638
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
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. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,757
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
The joys of free ranging! My egg collection also used to involve ladders and crawling into tight spaces and stealth stalking chickens to find their secret nests and yes they get very upset when you discover their secret stash and remove it. Sometimes it is worth leaving one or two eggs and marking them, just to keep them happy and laying where you know, then remove the marked ones and mark the new ones.... a pencil mark works fine.
A few years ago at this time of year I found a mother and daughter tag team had colluded and acquired a veritable mountain of 47 pink and blue eggs in a nest they had made in the eves of my old stable. Due to the cold but not freezing temperatures all the eggs were still edible but not fit to give away or sell so I was eating eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several weeks to use them up!
You might try adding curtains to your nest boxes. Sometimes the coop is not "private" (or sneaky) enough for them and they look for somewhere less obvious, so curtains on the nest boxes can help to give it that secluded feel. Just old feed bags stapled to the front and cut an inch above the lip and down the middle so that they can push through.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,200
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
It's in a hens reproductive favor to accumulate a clutch of 12 to 20 eggs BEFORE SHE takes to the nest to begin incubation. Hens just don't lay one or two eggs and then decide to sit.

By locking your hens in the coop you are forcing them to comment to a nest location that is more coinvent to your purposes so the odds are great that the hens in your flock will return to the nests that they have committed to. Hen nests are not intended for the use of your hens, these nests are only designed with the chicken owners convenience in mind.
 

Killer Tomato

Songster
Mar 2, 2017
498
1,291
247
Willamette Pass, Oregon
The joys of free ranging! My egg collection also used to involve ladders and crawling into tight spaces and stealth stalking chickens to find their secret nests and yes they get very upset when you discover their secret stash and remove it. Sometimes it is worth leaving one or two eggs and marking them, just to keep them happy and laying where you know, then remove the marked ones and mark the new ones.... a pencil mark works fine.
A few years ago at this time of year I found a mother and daughter tag team had colluded and acquired a veritable mountain of 47 pink and blue eggs in a nest they had made in the eves of my old stable. Due to the cold but not freezing temperatures all the eggs were still edible but not fit to give away or sell so I was eating eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several weeks to use them up!
You might try adding curtains to your nest boxes. Sometimes the coop is not "private" (or sneaky) enough for them and they look for somewhere less obvious, so curtains on the nest boxes can help to give it that secluded feel. Just old feed bags stapled to the front and cut an inch above the lip and down the middle so that they can push through.
This sounds like us! My boyfriend had to cut a hole in the floor of the garage to get to the secret nest our EE had made over the summer -- we pulled out 2 dozen eggs. She moved to a different spot that we can't reach now.
 

Killer Tomato

Songster
Mar 2, 2017
498
1,291
247
Willamette Pass, Oregon
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. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
I'm wondering *why* hens choose to hide their eggs, when there's been no noticeable change to their environment? (at least it's not noticeable to me). Some of my steady, reliable coop layers are suddenly laying in a secret spot in the garage. It's my lead hen, and her BFF, (both 2 years old, Barred Rocks) and they are inciting a riot, with two other hens following suit!

One of the Barred Rocks is camping out on this nest in the garage, constantly, even after she'd laid her egg. Maybe she's going broody?

The egg hiders are confined to the coop until they have laid their eggs for the day, then they are released. It usually does the trick, but we'll see.
 

dalasgalas

Songster
Nov 3, 2015
348
836
171
Austin TX
This sounds like us! My boyfriend had to cut a hole in the floor of the garage to get to the secret nest our EE had made over the summer -- we pulled out 2 dozen eggs. She moved to a different spot that we can't reach now.
My tiny bantam burrowed a hole in the compost pile. I had been killing myself looking with no luck and finally chalked it up t winter/not laying...until I spotted the tiny burrow hole. Initially I thought it was rats, nope. Secret nest with 15 filthy eggs. I cooked them up and fed them back to the flock.
 

Killer Tomato

Songster
Mar 2, 2017
498
1,291
247
Willamette Pass, Oregon
I’ve noticed that whenever I took all the eggs, they would choose other places to lay them. Now I leave a few eggs in the area if I like where they are laying.
I'm kind of ok with this new spot in the garage, it's better than *under* the garage! Plus, if she wants to go broody, I guess we could set her up a spot and get some fertilized eggs! I've never hatched chicks before, via incubator, or mama hen. :)
 

TCCL

Songster
Sep 4, 2017
159
270
177
Eastern Tennessee
I'm kind of ok with this new spot in the garage, it's better than *under* the garage! Plus, if she wants to go broody, I guess we could set her up a spot and get some fertilized eggs! I've never hatched chicks before, via incubator, or mama hen. :)

I hear you. I strongly suspect one of mine this summer had been laying under the house. Now that it’s cold enough most of the creepy crawlies will be gone or dormant and I will go under there and see. Sure don’t want the any eggs under there exploding with rot.

I highly recommend getting some fertile eggs if yours go broody. It’s really exciting!!! I have some free range Silkies and they hatched their own recently. It’s been great to see the moms raise the babies.
 

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