When to open up the neat boxes?

Stephine

Songster
May 30, 2016
923
558
219
Sonoma
Hi!
When the chicks moved out into the coop a month ago, I blocked off the nest boxes to keep them from hanging out and pooping in there. Now the older ones turned 15 weeks old and I am wondering when I should open up the nestboxes.
I was thinking I would wait for the first egg, but maybe that's not the best way? Thanks!
 
Last edited:

Pork Pie

Flockwit
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jan 30, 2015
55,681
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Its generally better to open the nest boxes before laying commences, as pullets will often investigate them and "try them out for size" before beginning to lay. You can open them during the day, and then close them at night if you are concerned about them using the nest boxes as roosts.

CT
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,939
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Colorado Rockies
CT is right. Exploring the nest boxes is an important precursor to laying. They will generally get in there and thrash around and make an awful mess, but they're doing important work. Be very encouraged when you see this activity since eggs will be appearing soon!
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
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CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Yep, they love to play house. If you have laying hens, they will hang out and watch while the hens do their business. But if no older biddies to show them the ropes, they will play house. Good if there are some fake eggs for them to play with.
 

Stephine

Songster
May 30, 2016
923
558
219
Sonoma
Ok, good! I will open them up for play then! And get some fake eggs, too, so they get the idea what it's for. Thank you so much!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,117
123,282
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Yes, open now for practice...and to make sure they know to sleep on the roosts and not in the nests!
Hopefully your roosts are higher than the nests.
 

Rozzychick

Chirping
Apr 22, 2016
107
13
86
Hi!
When the chicks moved out into the coop a month ago, I blocked off the nest boxes to keep them from hanging out and pooping in there. Now the older ones turned 15 weeks old and I am wondering when I should open up the nestboxes.
I was thinking I would wait for the first egg, but maybe that's not the best way? Thanks!

I'm in exactly the same boat! ThankS everyone for this info!
 

nursesoc

Chirping
Apr 8, 2016
26
12
69
Northwestern Ohio
My chickens are approx 6 months old and not laying eggs yet. I am new to raising chickens and allowed them to sleep in their nesting boxes. All six of them piled into one box when they were smaller and now looks like they are three to a box. I have a roost with variable height in the coop. I'm not sure what to do wether I should block the nesting boxes at night and open them during the day? We are hoping they start laying soon?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,117
123,282
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
My chickens are approx 6 months old and not laying eggs yet. I am new to raising chickens and allowed them to sleep in their nesting boxes. All six of them piled into one box when they were smaller and now looks like they are three to a box. I have a roost with variable height in the coop. I'm not sure what to do wether I should block the nesting boxes at night and open them during the day? We are hoping they start laying soon?
Welcome to BYC!

Absolutely....time to train them to the roosts for sleeping, pronto.

Onset of lay is commonly between 18-26 weeks, some start earlier-some much later.
If they are showing signs of laying, open them during the day.

Signs of onset of lay---I've found the pelvic points to be the most accurate.
Squatting:
If you touch their back they will hunker down on the ground, then shake their tail feathers when they get back up.
This shows they are sexually mature and egg laying is close at hand.

Combs and Wattles:
Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.
Tho I have found that the combs and wattles can look full and red one minute then pale back out the next due to exertion or excitement, can drive ya nuts when waiting for a pullet to lay!

Vent:
Dry, tight, and smaller - usually not laying.
Moist, wide, and larger - usually laying

Pelvic Points 2 bony points(pelvic bones) on either side of vent:
Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.
 

nursesoc

Chirping
Apr 8, 2016
26
12
69
Northwestern Ohio
We have 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Buff Orpingtons approx 20 weeks old. I've been closing nesting boxes at night and opening them in morning. Much to our amazement one of the reds finally layed a nice brown egg a couple of days ago! I believe they are all on the verge of laying they are getting more cackle and their bottoms are huge! Today we got a second egg not sure which one layed it though but it was a nice medium brown egg. Just this evening we were out at the coop watching them out in the run and all of a sudden one of the reds I believe the one that layed the first egg, was acting weird and I thought that she was going to lay another egg? So I wondered why she didn't go in the nesting box? just then she layed an egg with absolutely no shell at all it was slimy at first then the yolk came out and of course the other girls gobbled it up right away? Is this something to be concerned about or will it correct itself? she seemed fine afterwards.
 

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