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Getting Your Hens to Use Nest Boxes

July 01, 2020

Have you recently started keeping chickens? Having fresh eggs available is a great perk! However, you may find that your feathered friends don’t always cooperate when it comes to where they lay their eggs. Some hens will leave eggs almost anywhere except the nesting box, making Easter egg hunts a daily task for their owners. A Greater Cincinnati veterinarian offers some tips on solving this issue below.

Proper Setup

First and foremost, make sure that you have enough nest boxes. You should have one box for every 4-6 birds. If you have too many, the birds may use them as toilets, and may not want to lay there. Too few, and your birds may go elsewhere simply for privacy. Keep in mind that hens like to lay in dark, quiet spots. Also, make sure that you have enough roosting spots. (Tip: chickens love perches and swings.)

Lighting

Chickens often lay fewer eggs in winter, especially when the days get shorter. One thing that may help is to put artificial lighting up in the nest boxes. Aim for 14 hours of light a day. 

Comfy Boxes

A nesting box won’t be very comfortable if the bedding is worn out, scattered onto the floor, or soiled. Provide plenty of clean bedding!

Chicken Eviction

Some chickens won’t lay eggs where they sleep. If your hens are dozing off in their nesting boxes, herd them out. Or, carefully pick them up and put them on their roosts.

Ground Your Birds

Hens generally lay their eggs in the morning. One thing you can try is keeping them confined to their coop until late in the morning.

Leave A Decoy

Putting a fake egg in the nesting box will help your chickens form good habits. If you can’t find any at local feed stores, try using a golf ball!

Don’t Leave Eggs Behind

Gather eggs at least once a day. Hens don’t want to lay on top of other eggs!

Move Her

This one is a bit dependent on luck and timing, as you can’t spend all your time on chicken watch. However, if you notice a hen laying an egg somewhere she shouldn’t, gently move her to a nest box. You’ll have to keep doing this until she gets tired of being moved.

Do you have questions or concerns about chickens? Contact us, your Greater Cincinnati vet clinic, today!


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Voted 2019 Best of the East - Cincy Magazine