Are you tired of trying to stop hens sleeping in the nest box?
A previous article explained how to train your chickens to sleep on the roost and not in the nest boxes. Unfortunately, we have found a few of the new hens just don’t understand.
Chickens sleeping in the nest boxes should be discouraged for 3 reasons:
- Other chickens may learn to sleep in the nest boxes.
- Chickens will poop in the nest box. When an egg is laid it will become soiled. This also results in wasted bedding.
- During winter, the chickens will crowd together on the roosts, keeping each other warm. A lone chicken in a nest box will be much colder than it should be.
Each night, we close up the coop and check the nest boxes. each night we remove the offending chickens and place them on the roosts. Unfortunately, it is a losing battle. Something a bit more drastic needed to be done.
We recently picked up a free wooden screen house from Craigslist that we will be converting into a new, larger coop. With the screen house came some various pieces of rubber sheeting. I took one of the sheets and hung it over the nest boxes. I then made a way to hold it open. Think of it as a type of shade; down closes off the boxes, up opens them up again.
After all the hens have laid their eggs for the day and an hour or two before the chickens head to the coop for the night, we close the nest boxes off by pulling down the shade. When we close up the coop at night it is usually dark. The chickens do not move off the roost when it is dark so we open the nest boxes. The boxes are open for the hens first thing in the morning all nice and clean.
A few weeks of keeping the nest boxes closed off and we hope the hens get into the habit of sleeping on the roosts. At that point we can keep the boxes open at all times. If we find the hens go back to sleeping in the nest boxes we may have to open and close the boxes off every day.
The first night the shade was installed, all the chickens were on the roost as they should be so we will see how things work for the long term. I will update you on our progress.
Here is a word of warning though:
If you forget to open the shade the hens will be forced to lay the eggs elsewhere. Free range hens may lay their egg in places you will not find them. Eggs may also be laid on the coop floor, right in the poop you are trying to avoid. In my case, I have a nest box at floor level that is never closed off. The hens have this as a backup in the event I forget to lift the shade. For some strange reason the chickens do not sleep in this particular box.
Do you have another way to keep your chickens from sleeping in the nest boxes?
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