Was I too late w/nest boxes?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cockam-amy, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. Cockam-amy

    Cockam-amy Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 9, 2009
    Missoula, MT
    I just got my nest boxes in the coop yesterday. My BOs are about 22 weeks and have not started laying. I'm wondering if I'm in trouble since I didn't have boxes in at 18 weeks as recommended. My girls free range in the vegetable garden, and don't seem to ever go into the coop during the day--that's where my nest boxes are. Will they just figure it out on their own? My coop is not very big so I don't want to lock them in it during the day, also there's ventilation but not any windows so it would seem mean.
    Advice please!
  2. animal_lover03

    animal_lover03 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Put some golf balls or fake eggs in the nesting boxes once you suspect they'll start laying and eventually they'll know to lay in there.
  3. Wyo Chick

    Wyo Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do you put the chickens in the house at night? If you do I have found that chickens are nosy. They like to check out anything new adn they will probably find the boxes. That will seem better to them then the open.
  4. Quote:Yep, let the their nose guide them to the boxes.
    It may take a while, but a few fake eggs, a bit of nice
    grass hay in the boxes and a quiet evening will probably do it.

    Hens inheritly like nesting boxes.
  5. fshinggrl

    fshinggrl Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2009
    the edge of insanity
    We had nest boxes (up high) when we got our first egg. Then I changed the setup (lowered the boxes & added a roost). We've had no issues. I would think you are fine.
  6. Wyo Chick

    Wyo Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Rimshoes wrote "Yep, let the their nose guide them to the boxes.
    It may take a while, but a few fake eggs, a bit of nice
    grass hay in the boxes and a quiet evening will probably do it"

    OK, are we taking the chicken on a date! LOL
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  7. Uppity Peon

    Uppity Peon Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a tiny cat carrier "cave" with straw inside on the floor of the coop and I get one egg each day in that. And I have a doghouse on a picnic table outside the coop where I usually find 2 eggs a day. I have another larger "cave" in the other coop which has never been used, and just today I added a set of 4 boxes built out of a shelving unit to the outside of the coop. My only layers so far ar young RIR "Production Red" pullets.

    I recommend trying a few different things to see what works for your flock. They seem to like cozy, dimly lit places to lay.

    Good luck!
  8. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had not planned on getting chickens yet...I had just started researching the issue. I did know I do not live inside any city limits so there are no rules. But I went to a chicken show in late February with a good friend who has chickens and came home with a pair of adult D'Uccles. Fortunately she had brought an extra crate.

    So I made a temporary living unit with a dog airline crate without the door inside a pen...covered part of it with a tarp. Within a few days the hen started laying. Both of them lived happily after.

    Since then she hatched three orphan eggs (one jap, one that looks like a black polish, and one a real mutt but half polish) since she went broody exactly one day after she quit laying. Sat there for a week and didn't lay another one so I got eggs from that same friend.

    I lost her to a predator and the D'Uccle rooster took over raising them. I'm not kidding. He acts just like a hen. But he is definately a roo... They were three months old yesterday.

    I added a pair of OE bantams and she dutifully started to brood them when I left the eggs to collect in her nest. I kept them separate from the others. She has five babies now a little over six weeks old. They look like one roo and four little ladies.

    When I lost the hen to the predator I decided a new coop just moved to the top of the list. That good friends husband built one from a shed kit...it is 10x10x10 with a barn roof and a loft and some rafters. As yet there is no ventilation, or windows or a little door for them. I just open one of the double doors and they go in and out.

    I plan on putting windows in but I have yet to make them and they will serve as ventilation. I'll put hardware cloth in them (and plexiglas) to keep critters out. I put three medium dog airline type crates in there cause I had them, and my three Pugs don't use them anymore. And there is one wire dog crate in there too. (and one in the SUV cause you just never know when you may run into chickens you may buy)

    Two crates are on the floor, along with one wire one, and the third crate is on top of another. All of them have straw in and on them and there is straw all over the floor. I figured they would do until I built nesting boxes.

    The rooster as mommy and the three orphans he raised have just moved out of one crate and have decided to roost on some of the tree limbs I happened to have and put in the coop because the OE rooster looked uncomfortable on a rafter. I put some low for the babies and they are starting to climb up them. At night the hen takes the babies into a crate...always the same one.

    At first the OE roo got after the D'Uccle roo but has quit. I thought I'd have to partition the inside of the coop to keep the roosters apart, but all is peaceful now. I know the orphan chicks are way too young to lay yet at 13 weeks...but one of them tonight didn't roost as usual, but used one of the tree limb branches that is a 'bridge' to the upper crate and went in there to bed...by himself.

    This is confusing to me as it is our best guess he is a roo, if he is a hen he is way too young to lay, and this is the first time in his life he didn't either sleep under the D'Uccle roo in the straw on the floor with his sisters (?) or roost on a limb with his step dad and the other two orphans.

    Obviously I spend way too much time with my chickens.

    So a couple of questions.

    Is this supposedly roo half grown chick maybe a hen and in some sort of pre-laying eggs mode or did it just decide to change sleeping habits? No one is laying eggs right now...I only have one mature hen and she is the one with babies. Before tonight's occupation of that crate...no one has ever gotten into it.

    Regarding the hen with babies six weeks old...will she start laying eggs again? If so, about when?

    Since winter is coming on can I wait till next spring to put the windows in? They spend the day in a circular pen about 25 feet across with six foot walls but I leave the door open to the coop.

    They have laid eggs, and raised chicks in the dog crates. Do I need to build nesting boxes? The crates are a good two and a half times as big as boxes are usually suggested to be, but they use them.

    The OE roo moved from the rafter where he always used the same spot (all alone) to the tree limb roosts on day one where he again always uses the same spot all alone. The D'Uccle and the orphans always cuddle up to each other on another roost that is until tonight when one of them decided to sleep in the dog crate all alone. There are lots of roosts, I had lots of limbs, and lots of interior space.

    Are these tree limb roosts 'good enough' or should I be thinking how I'm going to lay out roosts, and boxes and windows?

    All opinions and guesses welcomed. The books just tell me what is ideal, they don't tell me what is good enough or also works.

    Terry in Tennessee
  9. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I'd leave them IN the coop for at least two days... get them used to the new furniture...

    Once they get used to it, know it's there, see the golf balls or fake eggs in the boxes, you should be fine.
  10. ArizonaDesertChicks

    ArizonaDesertChicks Eggstactic for Pretty Eggs

    Dec 8, 2008
    Glendale, AZ
    You're not too late - the 18 week recommendation is so that you'll have the boxes when they start laying (some chickens could start laying as early as 18 weeks). Since yours haven't started yet, no problem.

    Do like everyone else says - place one or two fake eggs in each nestbox. We used toy eggs from a play kitchen (filled with sand to make them heavier) and golf balls in ours. The hens may still miss the nextbox the first couple times they lay, but that's not your fault - that frequently happens anyway while the hens are trying to figure out what to do.

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