What to do if all the hens insist on using the same nest box?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NHchicks, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. NHchicks

    NHchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm having an issue with my new chicks becoming egg layers. I have 4 mature hens who lay, and one new chick who is now laying, plus 4 more in the wings who should be starting to lay soon. The problem is, all 5 current layers want to use the same nest box. The younger hen (chick) doesn't stand a chance at competing for the nest, so she has taken to laying in a bush outside our house. One of the older hens has joined her. I just found the nest this morning, yippee, so I found 7 eggs in it. (The new hen is laying tiny blue eggs so far - hopefully they'll get bigger - she's not a bantam)

    Anyway, we're putting in pop-out nest boxes to make more room in the coop, and I figure it can be divided into 3 nest boxes. But what is going to happen if they still all want to use the same one? They'll resort to laying in bushes somewhere and I'll end up with fewer eggs. You can't always "hold it" until a hen is done using the nest box, especially if that hen feels like lingering in the nest and making all the other layers miserable.

    Anyone have this issue?
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Hello-

    That is very common. It seems that the hens all have the same favorite nest box. Mine did the same thing for a while, and some will still wait in line for one particular box. I have three nest boxes, and they're all identical. They now use the two outer nest boxes, but skip the middle one, and I have 12 laying hens! LOL It's hilarious. One hen will almost always either lay her egg on the floor of the coop, or out in the run. There's not much I can do about it. One thing though, I don't let my laying hens out of the coop/run until I get home from work at 5:00. That way, they're usually done laying their eggs.

    Things will probably get better once you have more nesting places for them. [​IMG]
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    What to do if all the hens insist on using the same nest box?

    Usually I just tell them they are a bunch of nuts and walk away. I pad my nestboxes heavily with hay and they are extra large boxes, so even when three or rarely four of them decide to pile into the same box, I've yet to have a broken egg. [​IMG]
     
  4. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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    I had the same problem. I have about 25 nesting boxes and they had their favorite nesting box as well. I have purchased fake eggs and placed in other nesting boxes and that seem to helped a bit. Eventually they began laying eggs in the nesting boxes where they saw the fake eggs. You may want to try that to see if that helps any. Other than that, they will lay where they want to lay.
     
  5. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've also found that putting a few fake eggs in the neglected boxes will encourage them to start using them. Invariably, some greedy hen will roll those fake eggs into her (you know, the favorite) nest, but I just put them back in the unused nest from time to time.
     
  6. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    We just redid the nesting area, but still have the same problem of new layers wanting to pile in on top of the older layers. Some days I'm lucky to get any eggs! Some of the older layers tolerate it unless the newbie climbs all over them or stands on them while they are trying to learn how to get the equipment to work! [​IMG] The BR's are some of the worst about this...their mean so the layer in the box usually gets up and runs when said BR enters their box. I need to go out and check...I let Dolly out of jail last time I was out...she is Alpha Hen and does not allow anyone else to use the nesting boxes while the other Sex Links are trying to lay...she pulls the offenders out by the head in order to make room for one of 'her' girls. [​IMG]
     
  7. SmartyChick

    SmartyChick An Official Milkmaid

    Oct 19, 2009
    Sullivan County NY
    ummm, nothing! Like nostalchic says even putting fake eggs down will not work if they are set on laying there. I just sigh and walk away. It's just one of those things I think......
     
  8. churchx3

    churchx3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I currently have 11 laying and they lay in two nest boxes....both boxes are a bit larger. I normally find 8 eggs in one box and 3 in another...there are 4 boxes available. No eggs have been broken to date so I let them be.
     
  9. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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    The most that I have found in 1 box is 10 eggs. I have witnessed them standing in line waiting until the one ahead of them is done. I don't see how they do it. How can they hold it for that long? [​IMG]
     
  10. NHchicks

    NHchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You all are so funny - thank you for the supportive posts. I'm not going to worry about it if it seems it's a pretty widespread thing. But the idea to put the fake (or even real) eggs in the unused nesting boxes is definitely worth trying.

    I guess it boils down to the old saying: What does every woman want? What another woman has. Ha!

    Our chickens are so entertaining, I can't believe everyone doesn't have some. [​IMG]
     

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