Suggestions for getting hens to sleep where I want?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by potato chip, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    My isa browns wouldn't be nice to my new chooks, so they've been kept separate. I've got a new house for them to move to. When they were in the other house (the one where the new girls are now), they didn't use the perches and they (or some of them) slept in the nest boxes. I was advised to shut the nest boxes overnight, but that didn't really work out because they lay early in the morning.

    I'm not sure there's much point giving them a roost in their new house, but I'll put one in anyway. Is there any way to encourage them to sleep in a particular place that isn't a roost?

    I'm thinking of getting a "rollaway" nest box, I don't know whether they'll want to sleep in there, but I don't want them to.....

    Any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. DisasterGuy

    DisasterGuy Out Of The Brooder

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    I have something similar going on. I have 6 ISA Browns that use the roost and fairly recently added 3 6 week old Black Australorp chicks and 3 RIR 8 week olds. The new batch sleep piled up in one of the nest boxes. I have just started to block off the nest boxes and place them on the roots by hand every night. I am starting to find that by morning I still have 1 or 2 on the roost.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    This may seem a bit "left of field" but i have done away with nest boxes. The main reason being that since i started using 15cm deep grass cuttings as bedding, my chickens decided that the grass was preferable to the nest boxes. I removed the nest boxes (and the roost above where they lay). Now they seem to enjoy making their own nests in the grass and lay happily on the bedding. Depending on your set up, it may be something you may wish to consider since they would only have the roost as an option of somewhere above ground level to sleep. Just a thought...

    CT
     
  4. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Thanks, I'm sure they'd lay on the bedding, but I want eggs without poo on them..... I could do away with nest boxes, but I'd still be in the same boat, how to get them to sleep elsewhere so I don't get pooey eggs.

    I'm also going to make a flap on the side of their house so that I can access the eggs without going inside. That won't work unless I designate where they are to lay.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I totally understand - we all need to do what suits our needs.

    Good luck!
     
  6. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Thanks, I'm anticipating needing lots of luck.... LOL

    I wonder whether if I put some fake eggs in the area I'd like the eggs to be, they'd lay there. I suspect so, the issue is how to get them not to sleep/poo in the same place..... Maybe, given they liked to sleep in the nest boxes before, I should reverse their arrangement. Give them boxes for sleeping, and put the fake eggs just on the bedding out in the open...

    Why can't all hens just co-operate? LOL
     
  7. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Seems like a good plan - and yeah, they never seem to get it do they? Funnily though, when they hear me opening the front door every afternoon, they all come charging, since thats the time i usually give them a handful of millet! They are smart, but not when we want them to be! [​IMG]
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    They are living animals with their own wills, their logic doesn’t always work like we think it will. In other words they will do what they want. We can usually strongly influence them though. I know we’ve discussed some of this before on other threads but I can’t remember details of what your old coop looks like or how many ISA Browns you have. I certainly don’t know what the new coop looks like.

    I’ve found the best way to get them to lay where I want them lay to start with is to use fake eggs. Does that always work? No, it doesn’t always work, but it helps me. You can get all kinds of different opinions on what the nests need to look like, how open or dark they need to be, what size, where they are placed, or what bedding to use. People are successful with a wide range of nests but sometimes they just lay wherever they wish anyway.

    I built a couple of my nests so I can lock a chicken in there if I wish. When I catch a hen laying where I don’t want her to lay I lock her in a nest until she lays an egg. That works practically all the time but it’s not that easy to catch her on her other nest, especially if you are gone during the day. That’s the only thing that I’ve found to work for me.

    I know you said you want nests that you can empty from the outside instead of having to go through the coop to get to them. The more restrictions you put on things the more challenging it can be to achieve everything. You may have to do some compromising or work harder. Which do you want more, eggs you can get from outside or poop free eggs?

    Normally a chicken’s instincts tell them the highest place they can get to is the best place to sleep, but chickens can be trained to sleep somewhere else. Some instincts aren’t that strong in some chickens. Also some chickens are just brutes on the roost. They terrorize other chickens that try to sleep close to them. Most chickens like company when they sleep but some don’t. That may be why some of your ISA Browns slept in the nests, the others were beating them up on the roosts so they looked for a safer place to sleep.

    So what can you do to get them to sleep on the roosts instead of your nests in the new coop? First put the roosts in noticeably higher than the nests. If you don’t do this you don’t have much of a chance. Don’t shoehorn them into the tiniest space possible. Don’t think of magic numbers of how many inches they need on the roost per chicken, give them plenty of room to spread out. Give the ones sleeping in the nests a chance to get away from the bully without going to your nests. I’d suggest putting in a separate roost, higher than the nests but lower than the main roosts and separated a few feet so they have a safe haven if they need to get away from a bully. Will this always work? No but it will greatly improve your chances of success.

    Do your ISA Browns have a way to get to the roosts? They should be able to easily fly up five feet or more to get to a roost as long as you haven’t clipped wings. But they need enough room to spread their wings and fly or maybe a series of steps they can jump up, but they also need room to get down. Restricting their room can have bad effects on their behaviors and limit their options.

    If you can do this, they may still not sleep where you want them to. If that happens you need to place them where you want them to sleep after they have gone to bed. This means you have to have access so you can pick them up and put them where you want them to sleep. That can be challenging in some coops. You also need it to be really dark, otherwise they’ll just hop down and go where they want to. If you have lights outside of windows that can be a challenge. Since they are laying and you won’t be down there to open the nests really early blocking off the nests to force them to sleep somewhere else isn’t a good option either. I’m not criticizing you for that, I’m not down there that early myself, though when I’m integrating I do try to not wait too long to get down there.

    I don’t know what stage your new coop build is in. I don’t know how much flexibility you have in it, the smaller it is the less flexibility you have. My main suggestion after putting in high roosts with a way they can get to them is to just try it. See what happens when they get new digs. You may not have a problem, you may. If you have a problem you can’t live with, you can try to fix it, but sometimes that isn’t easy.

    I think your main problem could easily be that you have a hen that is a brute on the roosts. That would be consistent with my experiences. You may have just had really bad luck on the personality of one hen. If you can determine which one that is, remove her from the equation for a few days and see what happens. Isolate her and see how the others react without her. Your easiest solution could be to use the subtraction part of chicken math.

    Good luck!
     
  9. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Thanks, I don't think anyone bullied anyone and they had plenty of room when they were in the other house. They'll have heaps of room in their new house. It's 1.7m x 1.7m (about 5.5 feet square) (just the house part) and there are only four of them. At the moment, they are sleeping in a tiny little house and they all get on ok in there. When they run around getting treats and things, there's no obvious "boss" out of them. No doubt there is one, she's just not obviously in charge, they seem quite egalitarian, I couldn't tell you which one is "top chook".

    In the other house, I put them up on the roost, but they never got up there by themselves so I just gave up and let them sleep on the floor. (My "silly chooks" all roost, it's just the isa browns who sleep on the floor)

    I'm going to need external access, there's no way I'm climbing up into that thing every day (it's raised, and when I get the run up, I'll have to go through the run and then up stairs.) I'll have to to start with, but in time, I'll want access from outside.

    I'm not so worried about them laying where I want, I think they'll do that ok, I just don't want them sleeping there too..... It was silly when they were in the other house. They had heaps of room, but they huddled in a corner or the next boxes.

    Anyway, I'll see what they do when they move in, and take it from there. They'll do as they please and I'll just do as they please, rather than the other way around. LOL
     
  10. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Well, the girls are spending their first night in their new digs. I put up a perch for them on one side, and a couple of boxes for nest boxes on the other. I just went out there to check on them, and 3 of them are up on the perch! One is on the ground in the corner..... Nobody is in the nest boxes which is the main thing I wanted. I hope they continue to use the perch. I'm so proud of them (I know it's daft, but I am).
     

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