Encouraging chickens to lay in their nesting boxes is sometimes easier said than done. While many chickens will naturally gravitate to their nesting boxes, sometimes they need a little encouragement to lay their eggs in the convenient boxes you give them.
Here’s how to encourage nest box laying in your backyard flock.
First, make sure you have the right number of nesting boxes. The general rule of thumb on nesting boxes is three to four chickens per nesting box. If you have 12 chickens, you want four nesting boxes.
If you have too many nesting boxes, the chickens might start sleeping in them. Sleeping in nesting boxes is a problem because chickens poop while they sleep. You want to keep your eggs as clean and poop free as possible to prevent salmonella.
If you have too few nesting boxes, your chickens could be searching for quieter, less chaotic spots to deposit their eggs. Or, there could be overcrowding in the nesting box. Overcrowding can lead to broken eggs, fighting chickens, and chaos in the chicken coop.
Next, make sure to keep your both your coop and the nesting boxes clean. Regularly gather eggs, promptly clean up any broken eggs, and replace soiled nesting material. Chickens will avoid coops that smell bad, are excessively dirty, or nesting boxes with bedding they don’t like. If you’re having a hard time getting your chickens to use their nesting boxes, consider swapping out the bedding.
Using herbs in chicken nesting boxes is also a way to encourage your chickens to use their boxes. Aromatic herbs like thyme and parsley and calming herbs like lavender and chamomile are stimulating and soothing to chickens may help them enjoy using their nesting boxes more.
What should you do if your chickens still won’t use the nesting boxes?
You’ve made sure you have the right number of nesting boxes, and your coop is clean. Now what? Here are a couple of tricks you can try to encourage stubborn chickens to lay their eggs in their boxes.
First, delay letting your chickens out of the coop until later in the day. It’s a commonly accepted that chickens lay their eggs first thing in the morning. However, that’s not necessarily true. Many chickens lay eggs later in the morning or even in early afternoon. If your chickens are being particularly stubborn about using their nesting boxes, keep them locked up in the chicken coop for longer so they can’t find a better spot. After a few days of being let out layer, chickens usually get the hint and will start using their boxes.
You can also encourage them to use their nesting boxes by investing in a couple decoy eggs. Chickens like to lay eggs where another chicken has already laid an egg. So, putting a few ceramic or wooden eggs in their nesting boxes can be a good way to trick them into using their boxes.
Are you having trouble getting your chickens to use their nesting boxes? What have you tried?