If your hens are laying their eggs in the floor of the coop or hiding them outdoors, here are a few suggestions:
- Since hens tend to look for a dark place to lay their eggs, position your nest boxes on the darkest wall of your chicken coop.
- Try to avoid having light from your chicken coop’s window or door shining directly into the nesting box.
- Place a few wooden or ceramic eggs in the nesting boxes. When your hens see these, they will start to view the nesting boxes as an appropriate place to lay eggs.
- It’s best to have nest boxes available in the coop by the time your hens turn about 16 weeks old. That way, they will have plenty of time to explore and get used to the nest boxes and will be more likely to use then once they’ve started to lay.
- If you weren’t able to get nest boxes in time for them to get trained to the nest boxes, you may still be able to get them to lay in the nest boxes mounted in your coop by training them very gradually, like I’ve done with one of our laying flocks. First, place a nest box in a dark corner on the floor of the coop, with plenty of bedding in it. Put a few ceramic nest eggs in it. After a few days, if your hens have started laying in this nest box instead of on the floor, then raise this nest box an inch or two every few days. Over the course of a few weeks, if you can get your nest box up to the height of your built-in nest boxes, and if the hens are still laying in it rather than on the floor, you can place it right next to your main nest boxes for a week or so. Next, move the ceramic nest eggs out into the adjacent built-in nest boxes. If all is still going well, then after a few days, remove the standalone nest box, and your hens will hopefully now be laying only in your built-in nest boxes.