Youngsters in nest boxes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jkg, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. jkg

    jkg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2009
    AZ
    I recently moved our youngsters - around 10 wks old- into the coop. The young ones head inside for the night first and go to the top perch, but as soon as the older birds come in for the night, they chase the littles off the perch. The littles are scared to get on even the lower perch then as the bigs get mad and knock them off that one too, so instead the littles sit on the edge of the nest boxes and crap in them. I've thought of covering the nest boxes at night, but then I'd have to get up at dawn with the birds to open the nests back up for the older birds to lay.

    Any ideas for something that would discourage the youngsters from sleeping in the nest boxes but that still leaves the boxes open for layers to jump in? Long term, I'm sure it will be solved when the bigs stop beating the tar out of the littles for using "their" perches, but I'd like to find a solution while waiting for that. What I'm doing now is going out at dark and forcibly moving the chicks to the lowest perch and smacking the old birds around if they try to knock the littles off again. I usually have to stick around a few minutes until the littles settle down as they're convinced the bigs will peck them again (they don't while I'm there). Design should be fine - even the lower perch is higher than the nest boxes.
     
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    For about a week, you'll have to go in after dark and put the little ones on the lower perches. Eventually, they'll get the idea.... it's that or block of the nest boxes at night and unblock in the morning... those hens have to have a place to lay eggs!
     
  3. flakey chick

    flakey chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2007
    Florida
    Could you put a low perch away from the other roosts until the bigger hens are more accepting of their new flock mates?
     
  4. jkg

    jkg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2009
    AZ
    Not sure if I'm making this better or worse. The last two nights when I've gone out after dark to check on things, I've noticed the older chickens were up to their old tricks and were pecking the youngsters off the perches until the youngsters would huddle under the nest boxes to go to sleep for the night. I moved the bigs to the upper perch and the littles to the lower perch and stayed long enough to ensure everyone was down for the night, and sure enough the bigs started trying to beat up the littles again.

    I thought maybe I could train the bigs to stop picking, so every time one of the bigs would start to lunge and peck a little, I'd flick their beak with my finger. They started going longer between peck attempts, but then the one big that had been less a part of the ruckus had enough and started raising her wings at either me or the littles - not sure which. I had enough and grabbed her by the feet and hung her upside down in front of the others.... Maybe a little humiliation in front of the whole class will teach them 1) I'm boss, not them, and 2) no toleration for bullies in my flock (unless I'm the bully).

    Right move? Or am I just teaching them to be angry? Or teaching them only to pick on the littles when I'm not there? Keep intervening when I see the bigs picking on the littles? Or just let the littles go to sleep on the floor of the coop until they get big/brave enough to fend for themselves?
     
  5. jkg

    jkg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2009
    AZ
    by the way... my plan is to redo the perches so there are two equal height perches separated by enough space for eveyone to all get along (unless some of the bigs roost on both perches and still bully the littles off any perch at all).
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    I have no brilliant plan to offer.... but please keep us posted how it turns out, and how you approach it.

    I will be trying to integrate some soon, as I'm sure many others here will be.
     
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I put milk crates in my nest boxes every evening for about a week and went out every morning between 6 am and 7 am and took them out. I thought it was cute at first that they were sleeping in the nest until they started pooping in the nests and I would collect poopy eggs. I decided I needed to put a stop to the sleeping in the nests boxes. I read many threads that said to stop the behavior asap.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009

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