The Daily Backyard Chicken

May 30, 2014

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Oh chickens.

There are times when the hens get loud for no apparent reason, or go broody at a particularly inconvenient time, or worry us with some mysterious health issue, but after a year of housing hens and dealing with little problems here and there (and sometimes bigger problems), I can only say that I really enjoy having chickens. Especially now that the weather is warm, and we're spending more and more of our time outside with them.

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As it is with our house, the coop is never finished. There is always a long list of improvements to be made, largely influenced by the behavior of the chickens themselves. Our most recent addition comes from Starbuck's habit of laying eggs on the ground. We put up with this strange behavior for several months, but we knew we'd eventually have to deal with it one way or another. Finally, I came across an article from one of my favorite chicken-resources, HenCam, about potential issues with ground layers, and we decided it was time to take action.

Starbuck has never been a nestbox layer. She tried a few times in the very beginning, but it seemed to us that our 12-inch by 12-inch nestboxes in the hen house were a little too small for her, so she eventually found a spot in the coop behind the water dispenser, and then another spot under our deck, and then, finally, the corner of the coop you see pictured above.

To remedy this problem, we built a single nest box for the inside of the run near her favorite laying corner. This box measures a roomy 17 inches cubed, and sits a good six or seven inches off the ground.

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As you can see, the new box appeals to some of the other chickens, too, though they continue to lay in the hen house boxes as usual. As for Starbuck, she's already laying in her new box. Success!

7 comments:

  1. 'Professional homebody'? Oh my days, that is so perfect, I'm stealing that title too :) Happy to have stumbled across your space!

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    1. Haha, professional homebody indeed! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  2. Ours are starting to take dustbaths too. Hello hot weather!

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    1. Hot weather indeed. Summer has come early for us this year.

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  3. As someone whose only contact to chickens is your blog - can I ask why it's bad when they lay their eggs on the grounds?

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    1. Sure! The coop ground tends to be dirty, whereas the nest boxes generally stay pretty clean. Plus, chickens constantly dig and scratch, so ground eggs usually end up getting buried under the coop bedding, which means you have to dig around to find them.

      More seriously, if an egg is left on the ground, it may break or get pecked, which would lead to the chickens eating and potentially developing a taste for eggs. If that happens, they'll start eating their own eggs whenever they lay, and there won't be any left for the human-folk. Not good.

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    2. Thanks for the explanation, That does sound bad, great that you could resolve the issue with the box!

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