They keep overturning the nestboxes!

WhySayWhat

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 5, 2010
926
999
286
Spokane, WA
I have 13 pullets (only 12 are laying, did the "butt check"), they had 4 nest boxes...but, they only use 2 of them and largely ignore the other 2. That is until recently. They started pulling the fake eggs out and "playing soccer" with them! I pulled the fake eggs out and then, they started overturning the 2 unused nest boxes. I out fresh bedding in all the boxes, they dumped the 2 unused boxes that night. I pulled the unused boxes out day before yesterday, they didn't do any good sitting upside down in the middle of the coop anyway. Now...they're overturning the nest box that the majority of them use! What the heck?!? The 4th nest box is attached to the wall, they can't overturn that one, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. What can I do to stop the destruction? I do have another wall mounted nest box to get hung, it's on my "needs to get done today" list. But what the heck are they doing all of the sudden?
 

Auntiejessi3

Crowing
Oct 20, 2020
1,571
3,818
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Central Texas
My Coop
My Coop
Pictures of your setup would help. All my ladies tend to their nest in different ways...my Blue Orp beds down so deep that she is practically on the bottom of the box, my WTB will horde all the eggs(and golf balls before I took them out) into 1 nest before she lays. Point being they all have a different way when it comes to laying and maybe some of it is learned behavior from the one that initially started it. I would make sure that the boxes are secured in some way to stop the flipping behavior, and realistically with the amount of ladies you have 2 or 3 nest boxes would be plenty.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
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they started overturning the 2 unused nest boxes.... they dumped the 2 unused boxes that night....they're overturning the nest box that the majority of them use!

I'm guessing they try to sit on the edge of the nestbox, and that makes it tip over.

Chickens like to sit on things in the daytime, which could explain the daytime tipping. Chickens especially like to sleep on top of things at night, usually with some squabblings as they settle who gets to sleep where. So some of them might be trying to sleep on top of the nestboxes, or use nestboxes as a step on the way up to they do sleep, which would explain the nighttime tipping as well.

They started pulling the fake eggs out and "playing soccer" with them!... I out fresh bedding in all the boxes, they dumped the 2 unused boxes that night.

If they were scratching the bedding out of the nestboxes, they might have been trying to scratch around and forage for food. Even when they have plenty of food in the feeder, chickens really like to scratch around and look for new bits to eat. They may also have been trying to see if those fake eggs were good to eat. (Good training: egg-shaped objects are not for eating.)

Now...they're overturning the nest box that the majority of them use! What the heck?!?
You took out the other ones they were overturning, so whatever they had been doing on the ones you removed, they started to do it on the one that was still there.

What can I do to stop the destruction?

I would suggest:
--fasten nestboxes to the wall (this by itself might be enough.)

--watch the chickens as they go to roost at night, to see if they have enough space to all fit on the roosts, and if they can get up easily. If you see something that needs fixing or changing, then do fix it or change it.

--consider putting curtains on the nestbox fronts, or use any other method of making them darker, so it is less fun for the chickens to scratch and forage in them.

--consider adding more things for the chickens to do in the daytime, such as a pile of dry leaves to scratch through (chickens seem to really like scratching through leaves, and at this season they are probably easy to get.)

But what the heck are they doing all of the sudden?
Chickens do weird things :idunno

I think they are a bit like children or teenagers: someone thinks of a new idea, and they all start doing it. Pullets do pay more attention to nestboxes around the time they start laying eggs, but they also seem more likely to fly out of the coop and try to sleep in trees at that age. It might be part of normal growing up for them, to just try doing things differently and see what happens.
 

WhySayWhat

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 5, 2010
926
999
286
Spokane, WA
Photos?

My boxes are built-in, but I've noticed that most people who use loose bins either set them in some kind of frame or secure them in some other fashion because light bins flip when the hen sits on the edge.
I went out a bit ago and added the 2nd wall-mounted box to the wall and weighted down the egg crate with a heavier mat. I didn't get before photos as they were breaking all the eggs they'd laid and I was cleaning that up!
 

WhySayWhat

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 5, 2010
926
999
286
Spokane, WA
I’m going to order 2 more of the wall mounted boxes now that they’re actually using them. I added older photos of the boxes they’ve been tossing around. I have security cameras inside and outside the coop, but have no idea what they did to flip them, other than tossing all the hay out and making them too light.

Obviously, they like the wall ones now, Lady jumped in before I could even set the drill down. 🤣
 

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NatJ

Free Ranging
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no idea what they did to flip them, other than tossing all the hay out and making them too light.

They probably sat on the edge of the bin or the milk crate and it tipped on its side, then they sat on an edge again and it tipped upside down.

If the pullets recently got a little heavier, that could have made a difference in whether it tips when they sit on it :idunno Or maybe they were trying to have several sit there at a time, and push each other around, which would be enough to tip almost anything that isn't screwed firmly into place :gig

I’m going to order 2 more of the wall mounted boxes now that they’re actually using them....
Obviously, they like the wall ones now, Lady jumped in before I could even set the drill down.
It sounds like you've got a solution that works :thumbsup
 

Ebony Rose

Crowing
12 Years
May 26, 2009
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David, Chiriquí, Panama
They're standing on the edge of the box and their weight is causing the box to flip over. Bet they're not very happy about that, and it can cause them to learn to 'hate' the box. If it were me, I'd put a concrete block in the bottom of the nest box and cover it with fresh bedding.
 

WhySayWhat

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 5, 2010
926
999
286
Spokane, WA
That's it....teenage chooks are just a-holes. Lol. Thought I had them figured out yesterday after they broke 2 eggs flipping nests (one was a huge double yolker). This morning, before 8am, they managed to flip the crate again and I watched the eggs in the nest go flying on the camera! Out to fix it again....screwed some scrap wood to the wall and hooked the milk crate under the wood. Then, they started laying next to the milk crate instead of in it, ugh. Added another milk crate (upside down) to prevent the ground laying. Then, I came in the house and dropped an egg, which of course, broke and rolled under my fridge! My husband was late to his morning meeting at work because he was helping me move the fridge and clean up broken egg and cat toys out from under the stinking fridge. What a morning!

End result, I don't think they can flip the nests anymore...but I'm sure they'll find some other way to make a mess! I also (finally) screwed the wood panel in place across the door, it's been propped there since August, lol. Just 2 screws, easily moved for deep cleaning, but keeps the deep litter from coming out the door!
 

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