Tips to Keep Chickens from Sleeping in Nesting Boxes
One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered is when my chickens decide to sleep in their nesting boxes instead of roosting on their perches. Not only does this make the nesting boxes dirty, but it can also discourage egg-laying and increase the risk of diseases. In this article, I will share some tips and tricks I’ve learned to keep chickens from sleeping in nesting boxes.
Understanding Why Chickens Sleep in Nesting Boxes
Before we dive into the tips, it’s essential to understand why chickens might prefer to sleep in their nesting boxes. There are several reasons for this behavior:
- Comfort: Nesting boxes are filled with soft and comfortable bedding materials, such as straw or wood shavings. Chickens might prefer to sleep in nesting boxes because they find them more comfortable than their perches.
- Security: Nesting boxes provide a sense of security for chickens. They can hide away from potential predators or other chickens and feel safe and protected.
- Lack of space: If there isn’t enough space on the perches, chickens might resort to sleeping in the nesting boxes. They need enough room to stretch out and feel comfortable while they sleep.
Now that we understand why chickens might prefer to sleep in nesting boxes let’s explore some ways to encourage them to roost on their perches.
Tip 1: Provide Adequate Perch Space
One of the most important things you can do to keep chickens from sleeping in nesting boxes is to provide adequate perch space. Chickens need at least 6-10 inches of perch space per bird to feel comfortable while they sleep. Make sure that the perches are wide enough for the chickens to balance comfortably, and they are not too high off the ground.
If you don’t have enough space for perches, consider adding more or reconfiguring your coop. Chickens will naturally want to roost on their perches if they have enough room to do so comfortably.
Tip 2: Make the Perches More Appealing
Another way to encourage chickens to roost on their perches is to make them more appealing. You can do this by providing comfortable and secure perches. Consider using flat boards instead of round ones, as they are easier for chickens to balance on.
You can also make the perches more appealing by providing a comfortable and clean bedding material, such as straw or wood shavings. If the perches are dirty or uncomfortable, chickens might prefer to sleep in the nesting boxes.
Tip 3: Block off Nesting Boxes at Night
If your chickens are still sleeping in the nesting boxes, consider blocking them off at night. You can use cardboard, wood, or other materials to close off the nesting boxes and make them inaccessible to the chickens.
Make sure that the nesting boxes are blocked off before the chickens go to bed, and unblock them in the morning. Over time, your chickens will learn that the nesting boxes are not a suitable place to sleep, and they will start roosting on their perches.
Tip 4: Train Your Chickens
Training your chickens to roost on their perches is another effective way to keep them from sleeping in nesting boxes. You can do this by physically placing your chickens on the perches at night.
Pick up each chicken and place them on the perch before they fall asleep. Do this for several nights until they start roosting on their own. It may take some time and patience, but eventually, your chickens will learn where they are supposed to sleep.
Tip 5: Provide a Dark Environment
Chickens are more likely to sleep on their perches if the environment is dark. Make sure that the coop is dark at night by covering any windows or openings. You can also use curtains or other materials to block out any light sources.
This will create a more natural sleeping environment for your chickens and encourage them to roost on their perches instead of in the nesting boxes. It’s important to note that chickens need some natural light during the day, so make sure to uncover any windows or openings during the daytime.
Tip 6: Consider the Temperature
Chickens are more likely to sleep in nesting boxes if the temperature is too cold or too hot. Make sure that the coop is at a comfortable temperature for your chickens. Provide adequate ventilation in the summer and insulation in the winter to keep the coop at a comfortable temperature.
If your chickens are still sleeping in the nesting boxes, consider providing a heat source in the coop during the colder months. This will encourage them to roost on their perches, where they will stay warmer.
Tip 7: Address Any Health Issues
If your chickens are still sleeping in the nesting boxes, it’s possible that they have health issues that need to be addressed. Chickens that are feeling unwell or uncomfortable may prefer to sleep in the nesting boxes, where they feel more secure.
Check your chickens for any signs of illness, such as lethargy, lack of appetite, or unusual behavior. Address any health issues promptly to ensure that your chickens are comfortable and healthy.
Keeping chickens from sleeping in nesting boxes is essential for maintaining a healthy and clean coop. By providing adequate perch space, making the perches more appealing, blocking off nesting boxes, training your chickens, providing a dark environment, considering the temperature, and addressing any health issues, you can encourage your chickens to roost on their perches where they belong.
Remember that chickens are creatures of habit, and it may take some time and patience to train them to roost on their perches. By following these tips and being consistent, you can help your chickens develop the habit of roosting on their perches, which will lead to a cleaner and healthier coop.