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My chickens won't lay in their boxes

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We have a snazzy coop for our tiny flock and the girls just started laying.  They free-range during the day and we haven't found eggs around the property.  But we do find eggs in different places in the coop.

 

I put a ball in each box because I heard that that can teach them to lay in the box.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 7

Maybe they're not recognizing the ball as an "egg"...?  I'd try putting the eggs you find in the coop into the boxes and see if that helps them.  Also, do they have an easy way of accessing the boxes?  Like a perch outside of the boxes?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response!

 

At first I put rocks the size and shape of eggs in their boxes.  When that didn't work I put in the balls but I will take your suggestion and put actual eggs in.  They do have a perch that they hang out on and they have easy access to the boxes, although I have never seen them in there.

post #4 of 7

Is their nesting material fresh?  Maybe it's moldy and they think it stinks?  Mind you, mine don't seem too picky about clean boxes.

 

Sometimes I use shredded paper, sometimes wood chips, sometimes sawdust.  I'm not sure if they have a preference, but I know when I first change it, they all need to go into the boxes to nest and rearrange stuff.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

I don't see or smell mold.  I use straw in the boxes as well as the in the rest of the coop.  But you know the boxes are lined with something like carpet underneath.  The coop came with our house because the folks before us had chickens.  Do you think they could be smelling something funky from those chickens?  I hadn't though of that.  But I'm a total newbie at this.

post #6 of 7

What direction are the boxes facing?  Are they facing into the wind, sun, etc?  Do they have cozy out of the way place, or are they by the feeder/waterer?

Are other birds roosting in them at night and pooping on them?

 

have you tried one box with hay, one with shavings?  One facing one way, another facing the other way?  Have you tried covering the boxes partially- or hanging scraps of fabric from them to make a sort of curtain?

ummm

 

my bet is on what direction they are facing and if they feel private enough  though

post #7 of 7

The size of the boxes is important to them as well.  Heavy breeds like them about 12" across, smaller as the breed gets smaller.  Some individual birds like different heights, so it's nice to have several options for them.  Also, make sure other areas in the coop don't look as nesty and nice as those boxes.  Make sure they can jump up into them.  I store a couple of hay bales under mine.  It took awhile for our banty hens to choose the cozy nesting boxes up top, and I had to consistently remove the spots they chose in the coop.  When they chose to lay outside of the coop, I shut the flock inside for 3 days.

 

All it takes is one enterprising hen to discover the boxes, and you'll have success.  If one hen thinks it's peachy, all the others will fall in line.  Pick one up and set her in to check it out.  If you have a rooster, do the same, and you might find him start cooing and clucking for all the world like he has an egg to lay.  This is one of his rooster jobs, scoping out good laying sites for the girls.

 

I would chuck that carpet ASAP.  It is a hiding spot for all kinds of mites and other stuff you do not want to encourage.

 

If you are using straw in the rest of the coop, they could be happy laying there instead of the boxes.  Try removing the straw from the rest of the coop entirely for a few days until they get the point.  Once they discover the nesting boxes, you can add the straw back in.

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