Sleeping in Nesting boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by whittychick, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All my chickens are sleeping in their nesting boxes! It was one or two once in awhile, now all 12 of them are! How can I move them out? Or does it really matter?
     
  2. luvmychix2014

    luvmychix2014 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think it would matter
     
  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It kind of does matter, because they poop in their nest boxes and make an awful mess in there. That's not how you want to store your eggs!

    You need to figure out why they are sleeping there, and help them to get back on the roosts.

    First up - are your nest boxes lower than your roosts? Your roosting bars should be the highest point in the coop, so if necessary you may have to lower your nest boxes or lift your roosting bars.

    Next, do a check for mite infestations. Quite often if there is a severe mite infestation the birds will refuse to sleep on the roost, purely because they are being bitten so viciously by the mites. Go into your coop at night with a damp, white paper towel and run it along the under-sides of all your roosts and in all the nooks and crannies. When you go back inside, you will see smeared red 'blood' from the mites if there is an infestation. If so, appropriate mite treatment will be required for your coop, roosts, nests and chickens.

    Thirdly, look at your actual roosts. Do you have enough room for your girls to be able to flap their way up to a roosting point without knocking other birds off the roost? Is there adequate room on the roosting bar for everyone? Do they need a second, lower roost to help them get up to the higher one? And what is your roost made out of? Bigger birds like a flat piece of 2x4, with the wider side facing up so that the can 'sit' flat on the roost, not cling to it like a budgie. Round roosts sound ideal but for bigger birds are actually uncomfortable on their feet.

    Once all of this has been checked out and adjusted, you will need to re-train your birds to the roost. This means waiting until it's dark, and then picking up each individual bird and placing them on the roost bar. If you take someone with you this will make the job easier and quicker for you. Be confident, be gentle with them, and talk quietly to reassure them as you do the relocation.

    To help you in your quest it might also be a good idea to temporarily block access to the nest boxes overnight until they are used to the roost again. This means (unfortunately!) getting up early each morning thereafter to re-open the nest boxes, but the theory is that if the nests are blocked off there is only one place they can sleep - up on the roost! It may take a couple of weeks but your chickens will reform the habit of sleeping on the roosts if you are persistent.

    Sleeping in the nest boxes won't hurt your birds per se, but like sleeping on the floor, it is dirty and not particularly hygienic, for the hens or the eggs they lay. I would recommend you do your best to encourage them back to the roosts.

    Good luck!

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
    2 people like this.
  4. sueandthe6

    sueandthe6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    so I am having an issue with this as well. I had 7 girls who were roosting correctly since spring when I brought them and their coop home from a craigs list ad. Back in sept I added two chicks. They have done ok getting along but I have found they sleep in the nest boxes. It does make quite a mess-and I am not wanting to be washing eggs daily. So far the rest of the girls are laying in the two out of four that are not being slept in- but the eggs still get messy with everyone trying to lay in one box and some have been getting smashed. I did have a small roost in their "get acquainted" pen when I moved them to the big girls run- and they never used it then but I hoped they would get the idea. They are maybe 4 mos old now. When they first started to actually mingle- they would not even go in the coop- I had to scoop them out of the get acquainted pen and toss them into the big girl coop. They finally started staying there-but now don't roost. My coop is not nearly tall enough for a person to get into so moving them on to the roost isn't an option. Will covering the nest boxes at night be enough? I also had a problem when trying to get them to stay in the big girl coop a few times they ran back out so I jimmy rigged a "door" to keep them in. I am afraid might happen if I simply oust them from the nest boxes after they are in. ugggggg
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah, young birds can be difficult.

    An adult bird's natural tendency is to want to roost up high for protection from predators. However, when they are under 4 months old they will naturally sleep in a cuddle-puddle! They get this from when they are first hatched - they all sleep huddled around and underneath Momma. If you take Momma away, the chicks will then naturally huddle together on the floor or in their nest box to keep warm. When they approach the 3-4 month age mark they should, one by one, start roosting up on the bar.

    It's a behaviour that should change as they get older. It may be that your girls are 'not quite there yet' as far as being old enough to roost. Under normal circumstances I would still try and train them to the roost bar at that age, however as your coop is not built for human entry that might be difficult!

    Do you have plenty of roosting space? The chicken pecking order is a funny thing, and the 'big girls' might not be letting the littler ones roost with them. You could install a second roost, maybe a bit lower down and see if that helps. I know when I got 3 new birds recently, my rooster (George) would not let them on the top roost with him and his favourite girls. They were relegated to a lower bar! Something that might be worth a try, anyway.

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  6. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow great info krista! Thanks so much!! My roosting bar is Parell with the nesting boxes, so I need to change that. I have a high bar but the head honcho is there and doesn't allow anyone else!!!
     
  7. Ronh

    Ronh Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey,

    I just replied to another post about the same issue, much thanks Krista. I'll look into those points for sure... Merry Christmas everyone...
     
  8. MickeysChicks

    MickeysChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a similar problem! I added nesting curtains and that seems to have cured them. I occasionally will find a hen hanging out in a nesting box at night, but usually will also find alot of eggs under that hen. I think they were just being a little broody! I removed the eggs and put the not happy hen back on the roost. Good Luck!
     
  9. Ronh

    Ronh Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, I have been trying to figure out what could be the problem. I had heard of nesting curtains and will look into installing some asap, thanks again.
     

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