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Stupid hens sleeping in nest boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Why?
    Why would they be doing this? I have nice 2x4 roosts (flat side up!) with room for everybody. The hens are almost 2 years old and they used to sleep on perches (some of which were much less comfy in our old coop) but now all 3 of my Columbians sleep in the nest boxes every night. There are 8 nests, so if they would all lay in DIFFERENT boxes than the ones they fill with poo I wouldn't care. But they never do. All their eggs are in poo-filled boxes. I work the whole day, I cannot possibly clean them out except on weekends. All my eggs are filthy. Stupid Columbians.
    Everyone else is good. The gold laced, the sliver penciled, the Blue lace reds, my BR, BOs... Everyone. Including the pullets who may not even be laying yet.
    What can I do?
    This all started, I think, after a dog attack. My roo was injured badly (1/3 of his feathers and 1/4 of his skin gone, plus some damage to his leg that caused a limp for a few weeks) But the tough guy wouldn't tolerate being put in the sick ward. He was bound to re-injure himself trying to escape if I tried isolating him, so I let him back out with the girls so he'd calm down. He slept in a nest box (one of the ground floor ones) until his leg healed. When he started sleeping in a box, half the flock followed him. Most gave it up when he was back up on the top roost like his normal self. But those darned columbian wyandottes... most uncooperative chickens ever.

    Any suggestions?
    Would physically putting them on the perches each night for a week or so get them to do it on their own? Or are they just hopelessly stupid?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2010

  2. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    Lynn Haven, FL
    Are your Columbians at the bottom of the pecking order? I've noticed my two hens at the bottom of the order frequently roost in thier nesting boxes because they're bullied by their roost mates when they perch next to them. Or perhaps, they just prefer a warmer place to sleep!
  3. boykin2010

    boykin2010 Songster

    Sep 26, 2010
    South Georgia
    i have 3 hens that all squish into one nesting box. i have to change the straw out every other day because there will b piles and piles of poop!!!!
  4. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    Are your perches higher than your nest boxes?
  5. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    Could you possibly put a curtain over the nest boxes during the night and open it in the morning? I have my nest box sleepers ut I am retired and just clean the nests when I visit the birds for morning treats.
  6. Yes, my roosts are higher than the nest boxes.
    The pecking order seems to me that the columbians are ranking in the middle. They outrank the pullets and cockeral, but are on the bottom of the hens' rank. I only have 2 bullies (my gold laced Wyandottes would even pick on my rooster if he got in their way) everyone else is fairly sweet, even when fighting for treats.
    And I can't see the nest boxes being warmer, really. They are a drafty add-on which sticks outside the coop. I am pretty sure they leak in the rain, and I for one would rather snuggle with the other chickens to sleep!
    And though I like the curtain idea, I think it wouldn't work for us... I rely on my room mate to let the chickens out in the mornings, and though he always does that, he often (almost always) forgets to collect the eggs. I fear he would leave the curtain down and the girls would just find new, less convenient, places to lay.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2010
  7. Sanebychicks

    Sanebychicks In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2010
    Colorful Colorado!
    I just recently went through this, but only with one of my four. What I did was before they go in the hen house in the late afternoon, I put a piece of wood to block the entrance to the nesting box. Then before I locked them down tight for the night, I pulled the wood out so it wouldn't be in there in the morning for egg laying. It was about 10 days, a little annoying with a few times of forgetting to either put the wood in or taking it out - but it seems to have broken her of the habit. The key was getting the wood in soon enough. I noticed with her that she went in the hen house earlier than the others and was already camping out in the nest box even before all the others went into the house.

    I'm not sure this suggestion will help with your setup, but so far so good for me. Good luck!

  8. darkmatter

    darkmatter Songster

    Jul 10, 2009
    I've occasionally had that problem with hens wanting to roost in the nest boxes. It's usually the juveniles just learning to roost off the floor and reluctant to join the adults on the ladder roost. I modified my nest boxes with a plank that is hinged and folds up to close off the boxes when I need to "educate" them to use the ladder roost and not the nests.

  9. papeine

    papeine In the Brooder

    Sep 25, 2010
    Mine used they nest boxes as sleeping quarters. I went out after dark and moved them all to the roost, it took a few nights, but they eventually got the message...
  10. Thanks everyone. I may just have to trudge out in the dark after work and move them. I hope they get the point soon.

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