How Can I Get My Hens to Lay in their Nest Boxes?

Sometimes hens lay their eggs on the floor of the coop, which can be a problem because the eggs get soiled from their manure, and the eggs are more likely to get cracked, broken, or stepped on.

Hens will also sometimes find hiding places outdoors to lay their eggs, and that can make the eggs hard to find.

It’s best if you can get your hens to lay in their nest boxes.  Fill the nest boxes with a soft, absorbent nesting material, such as dry straw.  Hens like to lay eggs in dark places, so place your nest boxes along the darkest wall of the chicken coop.  If you’ll put a few ceramic or wooden artificial eggs into the nest, the hens will see those eggs, and it will encourage them to follow suit by laying in the nest boxes also.

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22 Responses to How Can I Get My Hens to Lay in their Nest Boxes?

  1. Nancy Flowers says:

    I have a question: this morning one of our favorite young bantams was found dead in the chicken enclosure. There was no sign of struggle, but we found his head and one wing; the second wing was across the chicken yard, still in the enclosure.
    What sort of predator would leave the head and wings…? No other feathers were found anywhere…? We have a camouflage netting across the top of the enclosure to discourage hawks and owls from dive-bombing our babies (and to keep the babies from flying out!)… I can’t find how a critter got in (and out) without leaving a sign.

  2. Jerry says:

    I have used golf balls to encourage laying in the nest boxes; also, all of my hens stopped laying a while back, I thought it was the weather. The remedy was I gave them lots of crushed oyster shell, and everything is back to normal..

  3. Gail L says:

    We have 8 hens. They are 3 yrs old a couple of months ago for no apparent reason they stopped laying. It has been very hot here in South Carolina this summer. We have tried giving them electrolytes in their water. We feed them laying pellets some corn, sunflower seeds occasional treat of fruit. They free range all day. We have 3 buff orpingtons, 3 black australorps, 2 easter eggers. They had been lots of eggs until the summer. We just can’t figure out what has happened for all of them to quit laying at one time. Help!!!

  4. Diab Hammad says:

    I have 45 layers. Normally I get about three dozen eggs a day.
    At the moment my hens are moulting.
    Lately I am getting 10 eggs a day.
    What is the reason for the low number if eggs. Is it the feed or, the weather, or what?

  5. Wanda Lord says:

    I use cat carriers picked up from garage sales. They work every time and are easy to clean.

  6. Judy Grosskopf says:

    How old are your chickens when they lay their first egg?

    • Matthew Pressly says:

      Judy, hybrid egg layers (such as Leghorns, Red Stars, or Black Stars) typically start at 4-5 months. Heritage breeds take longer, usually 5-7 months. Look for an article from us next week on the blog about this very topic.

  7. Colene says:

    I had one problem with the fake eggs… I put one in each box (12) and after I did that I had 10 hens setting… I finally had to take them out, but those fake eggs did help with the breakage problem… I actually saw 4 hens pecking on a fake eggs, they tried their best to break that “egg”!!

  8. I got a couple of old speaker boxes from the Take-it-or-leave-it at our dump. Works great, needed an extra box as one of the broody hens chases the others out. I’m going to try the golf balls trick too. Thanks!

  9. judy falzerano says:

    I’ve tried everything: sawdust, they kick it out, hay they kick it out, they have a roll of nest boxes, and I put in glass eggs. They also kicked them out on the floor. They want to lay in a dish pan sitting on the floor; I do have sawdust in it that I change often. I tried putting more pans out for them, but all want to lay in the same pan. Out of 48 eggs I get a day there are only about 10 that lay either on the floor or in the nice egg nests. Sometimes there are 6 to 8 chickens on top of each other laying in the dishpan. I don’t get many broken eggs though, a couple a week if I’m not able to pick the eggs up often. Now I have 18 new chicks that will be laying soon, so I’m hoping they will use the nests.

  10. Marie says:

    I just put ceramic eggs in the nests. Works great! We were replacing our nest boxes so the didn’t have anywhere to lay, so we decided to use our doghouse (that our dog never uses) as a nesting house, and they love it! It’s also great for injured birds or any bird that needs to be separated from the flock.

  11. Beth says:

    I got filing boxes with a lid and cut a hole out in the side. We keep bedding really fresh in there, and they took to it really well.

  12. drprop says:

    save your money, put some golf balls in the laying boxes !!

  13. Beverly C says:

    I used plastic storage containers from Menards and cut a hole in it then fill with saw dust, and I find a rock in the driveway that sorta looks like an egg and put it in the box works like a charm have never had an egg on the ground yet.

    • Anita Erskine says:

      I think I will try sawdust next time because my young hens who are not yet laying go in and pull all the straw out of the nest boxes! Silly birds!

  14. Kim C. says:

    I use covered cat litter boxes stuffed with nice soft hay. They’re dark because they’re covered and they’re plastic so really easy to clean. Works like a charm!

    Kim C.

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