The time of year when spring chicks start laying eggs is a very exciting time! Finding the first little eggs is such a reward for all the hard work we put into our chicks all summer long. You know what’s not fun, though? Having to conduct an Easter Egg hunt to find the eggs! Here’s 4 ways to encourage chickens to lay in nesting boxes.
If you’re wondering how to encourage your spring chickens to actually use their nesting boxes, you’re not alone. Sometimes it seems like chickens go out of their way to make egg collecting difficult. Instead of using the comfortable boxes they’ve been provided, they sometimes make their own nests in hard to find locations.
If your chickens are laying everywhere but their nesting boxes, here are several things you can do to encourage them to lay in the right spot.
First, you’ll want to make sure the nesting boxes are clean, fresh, and inviting. If you need to, clean out dirty boxes and add fresh nesting material. Pine shavings or straw make good nesting material and you can make it more inviting by fluffing it up some. The nesting boxes should be a few feet off the floor, and they should ideally be used for nesting only. So, make sure your hens also have a place to roost elsewhere.
Next, make sure you have the proper number of nesting boxes. One box per four to six hens is ideal. If you don’t have enough nesting boxes the chickens may fight each other over them. Sometimes it seems all the chickens prefer one box even when they have plenty and there’s not much you can do about that. But if you have too many nesting boxes, they may start to sleep in them and that becomes a problem because they also poop in them and the eggs get dirty.
Another way to encourage them to use the nesting boxes is to put fake ceramic eggs or golf balls. It’s important to collect eggs regularly throughout the day, but I have found if the chickens have an example, sometimes they’re more apt to use the nesting boxes. I’ve also found the fake eggs kicked out of the box and on the floor which I find amusing. They are not always fooled by the fake eggs!
The last thing to do is to lock your chickens up in the coop until early afternoon. Not being able to get out to build their own nests can encourage chickens to use their nesting boxes. I’ve only had to lock up my chickens for a few days before for they seem to understand. Remember, you don’t have to lock them up all day, just until their egg laying time has passed. After a few days, you can start to let them out all day again. Hopefully, they learned their lesson and egg collecting becomes a pleasant experience once again!
Do you have any tricks I didn’t mention to encourage your chickens to use their nesting boxes? Please share!