Why That Darn Hen Won’t Use The Nest Box!

Portable chicken ark.

Portable chicken ark.

A couple of years back, my 3 hens moved from their portable Chicken Ark to some swanky digs here at City Boy Hens. It was kinda’ like the Jefferson’s, but this time it was my three hens who were “movin’ on up!”  The Portable Ark worked well, as it provided my hens with some space to “free range” and an upper level to roost and lay eggs,  but it was a pain in the butt to move around the yard each day.

So with hammer, nails, screws and wood,  I built them a home that was fit for Queens.  I meticulously constructed their coop/run; adding insulation, electricity and 2 nest boxes.  I know that some of you may think that the 2 nest boxes was overkill for three hens, but the last thing I wanted to do was make one of my girls have to wait in line in order to deposit her daily offering.  Besides, …….I know what it’s like at the cottage with only 1 bathroom.  Inventing a new dance move in front of a locked bathroom door is no way to start the day while a relaxed occupant casually thumbs through a 3-year-old  tattered magazine.

092Anyways…..I built 2 nest boxes for the hens and proceeded to line those boxes and the bottom of the coop with fluffy aromatic wood shavings.  The shavings in the nest box would make a great landing pad for the eggs and the shavings on the coop floor would make poop pickin’ up a whole lot easier.

As it turns out, Swifer, (YES IT IS THAT DAMN HEN AGAIN)  has chosen  to not make any distinction between the wood shavings in the nest box and those on the coop floor.  In fact, I think she feels the coop floor IS HER NEST BOX because she deposits her egg on the coop floor EVERY morning.  But worst of all, she had taught Rosie that this practice is acceptable.

I am proud to say that I have managed to “re-train” Rosie to use the nest box by  always keeping a plastic egg in one of the boxes, but Swifer ain’t gettin’ fooled by that trick.  In fact, she goes into the nest box and pecks that plastic egg until she has turfed it out on to the floor of the coop!

“OK Swifer…..it’s the beginning of a New Year and with it comes the opportunity to bid the past goodbye and  to start anew.  How ’bout you start laying that “ping-pong poor excuses you call an egg” up in the nest box and I’ll stop decorating the coop walls with pictures of great tasting chicken noodle soup recipes!  Deal?????????????????????”

I do have my doubts……..It’s hard to teach an old chicken new tricks!

Well…..as Meatloaf sang “Two out of 3 ain’t bad!”009

Happy New Year To All!


37 thoughts on “Why That Darn Hen Won’t Use The Nest Box!

    • Hi Christopher.
      Thanks for your question. It’s not good practice to have a hen poop & lay her again in the same area. The nest box is designed to be a quiet place for the hen to only deposit her egg. She is generally not there for a long time unless she is broody so it remains a clean environment for the eggs. In other words….poop in the coop & eggs in the nest box.

  1. What kind of wood shavings are you using? When you said “aromatic” I was hoping they’re not cedar, not healthy for chickens. You want to stick with pine. You may want to add a ladder to the nest box, that’s what a lot of people do. You can try golf balls too 🙂

  2. My other note didn’t go through. What I was saying was dogs and cats won’t eat or sleep near where they poop. Maybe hens are the same way, but what do I know. I’m a city girl… sorry! I know google it and see what they say.

  3. My hens aren’t laying at all right now, so I think I wouldn’t complain at all even if they decided to lay on the floor. I know the eggs can get pretty messy though. We don’t use lights in the winter – we did get three eggs a few weeks ago though! Hopefully now with the days getting longer they will start laying again. Love my hens (and the two roosters!), thinking of adding a few more eventually. Would love your setup – I worry about mine when it’s so cold!

    • Hi J.,
      Thanks for your comments. Hope your hens start laying again soon. Might want to consider a few sex-links if you are going to expand the flock. They are egg laying machines.

  4. Good idea to get sex-links, years back we had white leghorns, they lay well too. But this time I think I’ll have to rescue my daughter’s two huge Brahma hens and two Wyandottes. She’s decided she doesn’t have time for them any more, poor things! I already took her blue egg laying Easter Egger and a little silkie rooster – he’s so funny and I was so relieved that my big Orpington roo (Bob – he’s the beautiful rooster in my picture there) has accepted him. Bob is such a nice rooster. Do you know anyone that has Chanticleer hens? They’re from Canada I believe and they are so downy fluffy – great for cold climates. I have two and they are really neat birds. A little bossy – at least mine are – but you really don’t have to worry about them in the cold. Just wish they would lay in the cold!

    • Hi Jan,
      Sorry to say I don’t personally know anyone with that breed though there are a few breeders in southern Ontario. As I said before with the Sex-links….they lay great even in the depths of winter. For this City Boy….it’s all about eggs! Thanks for your comments.

  5. I use shavings in my coops too – but the nest box has shavings on the bottom with timothy hay (they sell small bags at pet stores, usually for rabbits) on top with a light sprinkling of “nesting blend” herb mix. (look on Treats for Chickens) Only once since the henhouse was built have they laid outside the box. I keep a egg made of plaster in the box.

      • Hello,
        I found the bottom drawer from an old stove on the side of the road last winter and placed it in the coop. Guess what… The high dollar plastic nesting boxes HE put on the walls have never had an egg layed in them yet. My old avacado drawer.. 22 eggs. The three hens got broody pretty fast. I am a city girl and my farmer/cowboy just shook his head. I am now the egg coach. LOL
        It get mighty cold in Alberta, but they are all doing okay. The girls do not like the boys getting to near the nest/drawer. Add more shavings and the girls settle in. Added a plywood wall on one end.. even better. EGGS!!
        Thank you for this post. Love it.

          • For some reason I am not able to make the comment box work.

            Welll.. I am not a Canuck just yet. Sharing my time between Kansas City, Missouri and Mundare, Alberta ( about 1 hour West of Edmonton). Love Canada. The people.. the snow. Over Christmas I actually went ice fishing… loved it until my American boots didn’t hold up to the Canadian cold. I am learning to speak Canadian though… Eh? Look forward to reading more of your posts. Keep fingers crossed I will be a Canuck in July .. yippee EH?

            Best regards, WENDE Kansas City X Mundare, AB

  6. Hi CB. I was so happy to find your web page and blog. I too had a powerful longing to have a few chicks, also on the sly. I had a hard time convincing DH of my desire for a few chickens, but he finally gave in because it made me happy.
    I am now the proud owner of 2 Buff Orpingtons with more on the way. My main interest was of course the free range eggs. Orpingtons are good layers, but I just love their big fluffy butts! I also enjoy watching them; and my backyard now belongs to them. I had no idea that two chickens could move so much mulch and dirt. I’m sure DH will want me to keep them penned for the summer.
    I don’t know what is going on, but it seems like chickens have become my obsession. I have ordered some of the Lavender orpingtons and can hardly wait until I’m notified of a ship date.
    The egg song is frightening to me too, because in the subdivision I live in it clearly states NO POULTRY. I’ll have the lawn mower handy so when the egg song starts I can drown out the sound. Funny how they sometimes have a song and sometimes not. I think my girls are neurotic.

    Glad to find someone who is crazy about chickens too.

    Fluffy Buff in New Mexico.

    • Hi FB,
      Thanks for your comments. Sounds like you really got the “chicken bug” bad! You won’t be the first and definetly not the last! I hope the egg song settles down for you as it did for me. Best of success with the new additions to the flock. That might turn into a bit of a stressful time until the new pecking order is established.
      Thanks for following.
      Please drop by again.

  7. Hello, we too have a bit of the chicken bug, and no they are not supposed to be back there….shhhhh. It was really bad when we purchased 12 fertilized eggs to put under our broody hen and she happily hatched out you guessed it….6 roosters, boy did the noise ramp up then.

    I have pine shavings in the floor of the coop, to make the cleaning up easy and have always had straw in the laying boxes, they go in and make themselves a cool little nest (looks just like a birds nest) and thats where they lay. Have you tried putting her egg in the laying box and leaving it for a bit, or will that sweet little Swifer not take the hint?

    Love the blog, thanks for sharing the adventure. Have a wonderful day!

    • HI Lynda,
      Thanks for your comments. That “sweet little Swifer” as you say, does not take the hint! She has always been a bit off the mark between her antics, laying really small eggs and not even laying until she was over 6 months old. Well….she DOES give me stuff to write about!

  8. Great post, your humor really had me laughing this morning! 🙂
    Some of my girls lay in the nest boxes, some on the floor underneath but the past two days, I have found an egg OUTSIDE the hen house in the yard! Silly chickens!

    • HI Cindy,
      Thanks for visiting. Glad to have given you a laugh!
      That crazy hen of mine (Swifer) has laid the odd one under the deck at times. I’ve reminded her that I’m not interested in an Easter egg hunt!
      Hope you’ll drop by again.

  9. Hi
    Nice to read your Blog ! I love my chickens and had to laugh at your girls antics ! Some hens will just do what they wish NO matter how hard to try to “correct” them. I think you have pretty much done everything you could to encourage her. I have 8 nesting boxes and the girls use 3 regularly & the fourth occasionally. Once in a blue moon someone will leave one in one of the “other” boxes ! Go figure !

  10. My wife and I finally broke down and built a small coop big enough for the 8 pullets we have. We bought 2 of each in 4 breeds. Like CB said, the two red sex links were the first to start and are egg laying machines. Have not missed a day for the 3 weeks they have been laying, and every egg has gone in the nest boxes. Now we have an austolorp laying, and I can tell she is going to be the pits. I have found her eggs in a couple of different spots in the yard, and decided to lock all the girls up in the coop area to see if she would lay in the boxes. No such luck. I found her long skinny egg on the floor of the cool buried in the pine shavings. Hopefully she will be the only one that is an easter egger 🙂

  11. My chickens all started refusing to use the nesting box when the hay is in it. Every morning I put fresh hay I. The box and they immediately scratch it all out I to the coop. They then either lay on the bare floor of the box or in the middle of the coop. I have 5 hens and two boxes. They have never liked the one box and all of them shared the other one, even lining up to take turns. All of a sudden with no known cause, they started this goofy business. They free range outside during the afternoon and always lay their eggs in my horse hay. Why not in their nesting boxes with the same hay. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Robin,
      You may want to consider wood shavings to change things up, putting a plastic egg in the box or moving a few freshly laid eggs up to the nest box for a few days in order to entice them.
      Best of success.

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