chicken-eggs-in nesting boxes

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I recently had a few free-range pullets (a young hen, less than a year old) lay eggs in the most random places. Whether you are new to raising chickens or an old-time chicken owner, I have some easy tips on how to train chickens to lay in nesting boxes.

Pullets typically start laying eggs around five to six months old. They will lay anywhere from 200-300 eggs per year, depending on their breed. Young hens usually, but not always, follow suit and lay in the nesting boxes where the older hens lay. If your chickens free-range it can sometimes be more challenging to get them to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes. My problem is, in the the winter my older hens usually do not lay as much or at all. As a result, the younger hens are confused on where to lay. I have one pullet who has been laying her egg on our porch in the dog’s house. You can imagine how happy our dog is to find a fresh egg everyday just for him. I have only intercepted the egg a couple times but that is going to change. I am going to use some of my time-honored easy tips to train these chickens to lay in their nesting boxes.

free-range chickens under shrub

Why Do Chickens Use Nesting Boxes?

Chickens usually prefer their nesting boxes because they are a safe and secure cozy place to lay their eggs. And let’s face it, we want them to lay there especially if your chickens are free-range. Who wants to do a daily egg hunt searching in the tall grass, tucked away corners, behind a rock, or even in a dog house. Not me. And with the price of chicken eggs, every single egg is extra valuable these days.

Additionally, chickens are a creature of habit and it may seem challenging to train chickens to lay in nesting boxes. Before I share some of the tips I have used, here are some additional tips you should your chickens may not be laying in their nesting boxes

Are You Gathering Eggs Regularly?

Chickens typically do not prefer to lay in boxes that are already filled with eggs. If your chickens are in a season of laying well, you should gather at least once, if not twice a day. However, one or two eggs in the nesting box is fine and sometimes helpful to encourage especially young chickens that is where they need to lay too.

gathered eggs in a shirt

Do the Nesting Boxes Need Tidied Up?

Chickens prefer clean nesting boxes. Tidy up the boxes regularly. When gathering eggs, if you notice poop or excess feathers, simply cleaning up as you go will help.

Are the Nesting Boxes Cozy?

Chickens love a fluffy cozy nest. Add some extra shavings, hay, or straw to the nesting boxes for extra soft and comfy places to nestle. Doing this regularly will keep your chickens happy.

chicken laying in nesting box

Are You Providing the Perfect Atmosphere?

Chickens find dark, quiet corners to be safe and cozy. This safe atmosphere is what we need to provide them in their nesting boxes.

Are There Enough Nesting Boxes?

Ideally, one nesting box per four to six hens. If the boxes are full when a chicken comes to lay they may look elsewhere. Making sure there are enough nesting boxes is very important.

Do You Have Adequate Roosting Spots?

If chickens do not have adequate roosting spots they will sleep in their nesting boxes. This needs to be discouraged. If chickens are sleeping in their nesting boxes the boxes will become dirty and unappealing for laying eggs.

chicken laying in the nesting box

Once You Have Covered the Basics of Keeping a Clean Coop, You’re Ready to Try These Easy Tips to Get Your Chickens to Lay in Their Nesting Boxes:

Use a “Nest Egg” aka Fake Egg

Using a fake egg or a “nest egg” can help teach your pullets on where to lay their eggs. This is a helpful tip especially in the winter months when your older hens are not laying as much or at all. You can purchase them here.

nest eggs

The Nest Eggs We Use And Trust

Keep Chickens Confined Until Mid-Morning

Usually, chickens lay their eggs in the mid morning. Keeping your free range chickens confined to their run with easy access to their cozy nesting boxes will encourage them to use them.

Catch Your Chicken Laying in the Wrong Place

If you can catch her in the act and move her to a nesting box this may help her see that is the ideal spot to lay eggs. This may take some time and patience but will be a helpful to hopefully break the bad habit of laying around outside of the nest.

chickens eating

To Review: How to Train Your Chickens to Lay in Their Nesting Boxes

  • Gather eggs regularly.
  • Keep nesting boxes tidy.
  • Make sure nesting boxes are cozy.
  • Ensure perfect atmosphere.
  • Have right amount of nesting boxes.
  • Provide adequate roosting spots.
  • Use Nest Egg
  • Keep confined until mid-morning
  • Catch them laying in the wrong place.


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train chickens to lay in nesting box

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