10 ways to Get Your Hens To Lay In The Nest Box

Are your Chickens not laying in the nest box? It might seem like a mystery as to why they aren’t and  even more so, how to convince them to start. Often it’s a simple fix and in time you’ll have figured out how to get those hens to lay in the nest box!

1. Does the Nest Box Feel Cozy?

First, let’s make sure the nest box is cozy and warm for hens wanting to hang out in there to lay eggs.
we recommend putting straw into the nest boxes.

2. Do you have enough nest boxes for your flock?

Ideally, you should have 1 for every 3-4 birds. If you have less than that, could create a situation where a hen doesn’t have access to a box when she’s ready to lay, so she finds an empty place somewhere else that will work. It also makes it tougher for those hens lower in the pecking order to get a chance at a box.

3. Are the Boxes the Right Size?

A nest box should feel cozy to a hen. Not too big (sized for just one). They like to feel safe and protected. 

4. Is the Nest Box the Right Height?

Optimally, a nest box should be around 45 cm off the ground.  This also helps with the cozy protected feeling. Hens feel safer higher up. Plus, getting a box off the coop floor smells better, too.  (Side note: Make sure your roosting poles are higher than the nest box or else you might have chickens that would rather sleep in the nest box than the roost.)

5. Are They Located in a Low Traffic Location?

Again, cozy is the goal. A nest box should be darker and quiet. A place that’s relaxing and not stressful. Hens don’t like to be in the center of commotion to lay their eggs. And if the nest box isn’t calming, they’ll find a better, out-of-the-way (and often out of reach to you) to lay them instead.

6. Is the Nest Box Padded?

Well, wouldn’t you rather lay an egg in a nice fluffy place over some hard location? The hens are the same. Plus, a fluffy nest box will also keep eggs from breaking when they hit the ground (a hen stands up at the end when she lays an egg).

7. Is the Box Too Hot?

Temperature plays a role on hot summer days.  My hens would rather lay eggs under the blackberry bushes or in the barn than in the hot, stuffy nest box. If there’s a way to create a cross breeze, or cool it off some inside the box, your likelihood of them laying in there goes up considerably.

8. Is the Nest Box Buggy?

Hens don’t like hanging out in a nest box full of mites or other things that are going to nibble on them while they’re in there.  A sprinkling of our Smite organic Diatomaceous Earth powder in the bottom of the nest box helps with this. Also, you can use herbs and essential oils that repel bugs as well.

9. Is it All Clean?

It might surprise you that a hen prefers a clean nest box over a dirty one. Maybe this is just built-in hygiene for times when she’s broody and sitting on a nest (during those times, she’ll save up and do a giant poo on a rare time when she’s off the nest, to keep the nest box clean for her soon-to-be-hatched-babies). Cleaning out the nest box weekly and filling it with new bedding is a good idea, even if they’re already laying consistently in the box.

10. Don’t Let Hens Sleep in Nest Boxes

This goes along with the above keeping the nest box clean. Invariably, chicken poop in their sleep and you will get yourself a poopy nest box.  The cleaner, the better for everyone–not only do you have happier hens, we can also be happy with clean eggs!