Our coop expansion project has lasted longer than expected, as usually happens when you're trying to do construction in the spring and deal with weather delays as well as "life" delays when other things come up.
Part of the expansion entails moving the nesting boxes so that they can be accessed from outside the run. This has thrown the girls off in a couple ways. For a while we simply had fewer nesting boxes available. Then Josh made more, but they were in a different spot and no one seemed to know they were there. In the meantime, the baby chickens commenced throwing all the straw out of the new nests. I would fill them back and up and by the end of the day, they'd be empty again! It was exasperating!
So the result was that all the adults were attempting to lay in just four nesting boxes. As you can imagine, this created new issues. In the morning, when most of them lay, there would be birds trying to climb in two to a box and sometimes they would even peck and squawk at each other. The nests were overflowing with eggs and, as a result, some got cracked and broken. Then the birds began eating the eggs...
Bad news all around!
So I researched what to do with some of these problems, and I kept coming back to nesting box curtains. I suggested this to Josh and he laughed out-loud. But I decided to try it. Nothing fancy, just an old sheet stapled up and cut in the middle of each box so that it could be tied back.
The idea is that it blocks the entrance a little, making the nest darker and not so readily visible. The hens like the privacy for laying their eggs. It also makes it harder to see what's in the nest when a chicken walks by. A lot of the reason they eat eggs or go broody, is just seeing a nest full of eggs sitting there. I'm hoping that it will also help hold some of the straw inside.
I made the curtains for all of the nesting boxes, old and new. I also stood there for a while and any time a chicken hopped in one of the four that they all prefer, I moved her into a new nest. Eventually they began to push the straw how they like it and some even laid eggs in the new boxes. I'm hopeful that we are headed towards a solution.
And, the curtains are cute if nothing else!