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Stupid hens that lay in the dirt!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ladycat, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. ladycat

    ladycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use plastic totes with a hole cut in one end for nest boxes. I put shavings inside. All the hens use these except for one group.

    I have a White Marans roosters with some black hens split for white. These hens are laying beautiful dark eggs. But they won't use the nest box. They lay on the ground and almost all the eggs are too dirty for hatching.

    Moreover, when I put shavings in the nest box, they immediately kick all the shavings out.

    What's up with these birds? I need those eggs to be clean!
     
  2. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    They are not stupid, they just prefer the dirt.
    Try locking them inside, first all day for a day or two, and when they lay in the nests start letting them out after they lay. Keep reducing the time until they are let out in the early morning again. They should remember.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I wonder if the problem could be that you really have two sub-flocks and they don't wnt to share the space. It might also work to give them another nest in a different area. I'd also be sure my nests weren't a little smaller than they would prefer.
     
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    My Coop
    X 2 - the trick is that you need to figure out *why* they don't like the nests you have intended for them to use. I think that Judy is on to something with the possible issue of the sub-flock. How many birds do you have, how much space are they in and how many nests, total do you have? Where do the dirt layers seem to fit within the pecking order? What is the interior setup of your coop like? Is there potential to be able to offer some alternative nest boxes?
     
  5. ladycat

    ladycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Each group of breeders are in their own separate pen. with one rooster and his hens. There are no sub flocks. The pens are all identical. The hens in the other pens lay in the nests just fine. I don't know why this group of hens in this one pen are being so stubborn about it.
     
  6. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Maybe you could move the nests outside. There might be something inside they just do not like.
     
  7. ladycat

    ladycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here they are in their pen. The pens are made in rows, 6 foot deep. I have dividers and the width of a section depends on how many are in there. So each section is 6' deep by however wide.

    The back 2+ feet on the top is covered with corrugated tin, with roosts underneath the covered part.

    You can see the corner of the nest box in the lower left corner of one of the pics.

    We have warm winters here so it's not necessary to give them an enclosure, but they are in a very protected area so they don't get cold wind on them or anything (on the rare occasions we have cold wind).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  8. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    How wide are the pens? Could you show a picture of how you have your nests set up?
     
  9. ladycat

    ladycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'll have to take a pic of the nest box tomorrow, it's too dark now.

    The width of the pen sections depends on how many birds. The pens are 6 feet deep, and I like to allow 6 square feet per bird, so a quad gets 4' wide, etc.
     
  10. ladycat

    ladycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here's front view and top view of the nest box. You can tell they kicked the shavings out, like they always do. The yellow arrow points to an egg laying in the dirt. There's also an inside view of one of their neighbor's nest boxes with shavings inside. The others always kick a few shavings out, but not very much, and I don't have to add shavings real often.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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