the great debate..don't sleep where you lay?

Should young pullets have access to nesting boxes before they are of laying age?

  • Yes, give them access and let them get used to their space

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • No, keep the boxes separate until the birds are old enough to lay.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


In the Brooder
7 Years
Apr 10, 2012
My DH and I are having a disagreement and are looking for impartial opinions. Our 9 pullets (most about 8 weeks old, two about a month older) are roosting in their hen house at night, and playing in their run all day. There is a nest box opposite the roosts that is higher than the floor and lower than the roosts, but it has been closed off to them up to this point by a piece of wood. They've been in their house for about 3 weeks.

The "great debate," such as it is, is this: Do we remove the wood and let them get used to the nesting boxes, assuming that instinct will do its job, or do we keep the nests closed of until they are "of age" and avoid the issue of having them roost/poop there? If they sleep there now, will they keep sleeping their once they are all old enough to lay?

Here is a picture, just for reference. The girls are much larger now, of course, but the roosts are on the left (above the poop tray) and the nest boxes are on the right.


13 Years
Oct 31, 2008
West Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
If they are roosting dependably on the roosts that you built for them, then they are unlikely to move to the nest box unless perhaps they fight over roost space or some of the chickens are bullied. Chickens are such creatures of habit. I recently read a thread in which someone enlarged the coop and added new roost space and the chickens still crowded onto the same roosts that they were used to using.


In the Brooder
7 Years
Apr 13, 2012
Jersey, Channel Islands
Personally I would open them up so they get used to them, since chickens will only lay in a place they feel safe and comfortable. You'll probably find they stay where they are sleeping now if they're happy there - they might change areas occasionally, but I've found that once they have their spots they keep to them for the most part. As for sleeping where they lay, we've never had a problem with that THB, ours have roosts but they choose to perch on the edge of their nest boxes or in them. As long as you keep them clean and poop/mite free then they're okay.
We also have one little old cockerel that goes through phases of sleeping in a nest box (we think it's to rest his legs and stay warm in the straw) :)

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