Sleeping in nest boxes?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cochicks, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. cochicks

    cochicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2010
    Colorado Springs
    We recently moved our five hens into their new spacious coop. Unfortunately, they have all decided to squeeze into the two nest boxes to sleep instead of roosting. How do I go about changing this behavior? I don't enjoy having to clean poop out of the nest boxes every morning, and I certainly do not want poopy eggs!

    The funny thing is that they will roost outside in the run. I can't leave them out there though because it gets into the single digits every night here. So around dusk I have to go down to the run, take them off of the outside roost and put them into the hen house. They instantly go into the nest boxes. Silly birds!

    I'd appreciate any ideas! Thank you!

    Here's a picture of the inside of the hen house. There is also another roost to the left. The roosts are either 2x2's or 2x4's.
  2. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Your coop look very nice.

    I am not sure if it is the angle, but do you have enough space on your roosts for the chickens to sit?

    Also, they are probably looking for warmth in the nesting boxes if it is that cold. In the winter I put straw in the coop and mine bed down in the straw for warmth. Straw is warmer than shaving although it is a little harder to clean.
  3. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    Give them several nights to adjust first. When I first moved my girls into their new digs, they all crammed into a nest box too. I think they are very much creatures of habit and change really rocks their world. They are probably a little scard and to huddle together makes them feel safe.

    I didn't do anything and after about 4 or 5 nights, they figured it out on their own and were all up on the roosting bar and have been ever since.

    You could put a ladder up to the lower roosting bar or an upside down bucket to make jumping up there a tad more easy. That might entise them. But I'm pretty sure they will do it on their own. Roosting is what comes natural to them.
  4. nuttyredhead

    nuttyredhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2010
    Southern NH
    It could be due to the temps, but you seem to have some hardy breeds. Is there anything covering the coop other than the hardware cloth?

    I would try to put them on the roost after dark. I did have some bantams that would sleep in a pile, but as soon as I got some others that roosted they followed suit.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    What kind of roof do you have? That looks like it could be open? I've seen chickens roost in trees outside when the temperature was in the single digits fahrenheit, but that was in a very protected valley. I'm probably looking at it wrong, but if it is open, the roosts may be in a draft.

    Assuming I am looking at it wrong, which I probably am, try not giving them enough light to get to the nest boxes when you move them inside if you can. Use a small flashlight with the light covered as much as you can, and set them directly on the roosts. They may learn on their own in a few days, but this might speed up the process.

    Another idea, keep them locked in the coop a little before bedtime. Get them used to going to bed inside rather than using the roost in your run. I'd go so far as to take down the roost in the run so they don't have that option.

    Good luck! Behavior modification can work but it is not always as easy as we like.
  6. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    You can put one on the roost after dark and see what happens the next night. You might want to try this several times with different hens. You might even stick a treat up there.
  7. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 9, 2010
    N/E Texas
    Mine did that at first, too. For a few nights I removed them and covered the boxes so they couldn't go back in. They found the roosts on their own and haven't been back to the boxes except to lay. I think it was 3 or 4 nights.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011

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