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Q: My chickens are too young to lay, but they've all begun sleeping in the nest boxes at night--how do I get them to sleep on the roosts instead?

A:

Having your chickens sleeping in their nests at night sounds like a natural thing, doesn't it? However, unless your hens are broody and hatching eggs, having them sleep in the nests is a bad idea. As they sleep, they will defecate and soil the nests, and this means that when you do gather eggs, your eggs are likely to be dirty--yuck!

For that reason, it can be helpful not to add nest boxes to your coop until a few weeks before your chickens begin to lay. If that is not possible (coops are often constructed with the nest boxes built in), then you can try covering or blocking off access to the nests. Something else to try is to make sure that your roosts are higher up than your nests. If your nests are the highest spot in your coop, your birds will be sorely tempted to roost there no matter what. It is instinct that they will naturally seek out the highest place available to retire at night.