Why specifically straw in the nesting box? (The Gals don't like it!!!)


5 Years
Mar 12, 2014
Portland, OR
I am hoping this helps other newbs out there, too...

I've heard straw is the best medium for nest boxes. (I've also heard it brings in nasty mites, as straw is hollow... I'd rather not invite that kind of trouble into the coop, if I can help it.)

Meanwhile, my barred rock started laying, and won't use the nest box, but rather, the nice fluffy pine shavings we have in the coop. (The run is filled with sand after a short "dabble" with deep litter, and I will never switch from sand again! But I digress...)

I guess the sub- header for this thread might be... "Why won't they lay in the nest box, and what can I do to make it more cozy for them?"

Anyway, I still can't get to the bottom of why people are so very fond of straw. Thoughts?
Try some different types! what type are you using now? Is it meant hay for feeding cows and large farm animals? If it is they might not like it! But is its not, you may want to give it a try. Also when hens are young they usually don't start using nest boxes right away. Try encouraging it by moving a few eggs (or golf balls) into the nest boxes, or get an experienced chicken to show them how to make a nest! My barreds didn't start in nest boxes until i had my silkie show them how. And by show them how i mean just let them watch the chickens when she is in the nest box. It may take a little while and you may still get the odd egg on the ground, but hopefully they will get it soon! Try both of these suggestions! good luck!
There are a hundred and one ways to bed a nest box - it's all about finding what works for you/your flock. Your new layer may not be objecting to the straw, per say, but just not sure about the whole process and hasn't yet figured out what the nest box is for regardless of what is in it. Laying on the floor is not necessarily an indication of preferring the shavings to straw, but more about preferring the floor to the box.

I, personally, use shavings topped with a little hay. I don't care for straw as it is more coarse and because it would require a special purchase since I have hay on hand at all times so it is easy to add/change the bedding as needed.

That being said - you can try using shavings in your box to see if that makes it more atrractive to her.

If you post pictures of your setup we might better be able to advise how to make the nests more enticing - but we may also say that they look fine and your bird(s) just needs time to figure out what they are for.
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My first egg was layed on the floor, i think she was just uncertain and confused by it, haha. After that all her eggs were in the box (I use shavings, but thinking of adding hay to give it more volume. The shavings seem to just go flat.), and I think she's 'showing' the others where to lay, as my second layer went right in the box the first time.

Have you looked into nest box curtains? Maybe your girls would prefer more privacy. :)
I also have Barred Rocks. I began using straw and other stuff in the nesting box. After 3 years... the only thing I keep in the nesting box is cut carpet. I found that to be the best. Though the carpet needs to be replaced once a year or so... My girls don't seem to have any issues with it... me too....
You can train your birds to lay in what you choose. Just bc they don't like it today, if they like their box to lay in and you choose a bedding that don't care for, they WILL soon like it.
Right now, I have birds outside in a fun with some small structures made from a pallet. My layers have decided to dig underneath the pallet and lay in 3 nests that they have created. BIG pitn for me, but they get into habits.
I use the same bedding i use in the coops which is flax. New layers though they often don't lay where you want, heck even switch things up and watch older layers object lol
My hens have been laying for a few weeks now and they would not use the straw either. I put pine shavings in the nesting boxes and also got some wooden eggs from the craft store and they are laying in the nesting boxes now all except for one that lays in the floor of the coop still lol
I don't blame your hens as I don't like straw in nesting boxes, either!

I use pine shavings and the girls like it just fine. The good thing about pine shavings is that - if there's a poo accident or broken egg - you can scoop out the nasty spot and leave any clean shavings in the nest. Not so easily done with straw as it's long and intermingled and I've always ended up removing ALL the straw to clean out the box instead of just removing the problem spot.

Give pine shavings a try in their nests.

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