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Chicken nesting box location

 
                                  
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My chickens have only laid one egg since I got them three weeks ago and everyone else I talk to says they're getting almost one a day per hen (i have five hens).

I haven't seen any of them in the nesting boxes and it doesn't look like the boxes have been touched by them (I did find the one egg in them though but that was almost three weeks ago).

They have the ability to free range on an acre and a half and I throw some black oil sunflower seeds around for them to nibble on. The boxes were located waist high and shoulder high (I'm 6'3" and were cardboard . . . I thought it might be because they were cardboard so I put a wooden one up shoulder height but still nothing.

Any advice on location for the boxes? Might they be past laying age? The person I got them from had no idea how old they were. There are two roosters.
 
                      
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Hens can be put off laying pretty easily. A move may throw them off for a few weeks. Too many roosters can add stress to the equation as well, and can throw off laying. Sometimes I would give oyster shells as well, for the calcium. What is the quality of the pasture they are on?

I used a golf ball in a laying box to illustrate what was expected of the hens, and they started to figure it out. I would keep the boxes anywhere that is easily accessible to the hens. Also be sure to put some bedding in there.
 
Shawn Bell
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I have my boxes about 8 inches off the floor of their coop, growing up we had nest boxes that were four feet high in the coop.  The chickens laid eggs at both of these heights. 

With an acre and a half to free range your hens may have found a secluded spot to lay their eggs in secret, we went through that with a hen who insisted on laying in a brush pile.  It might be time to go on an egg hunt.
 
John Polk
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Shoulder high is probably too high.  Lower ones should be about a foot off of the ground, and the upper ones at about hip level.  Better for the hens, and also easier to collect eggs.  Moving, change of diet, in fact any change will stress them.  Stressed chickens don't lay well.  They also don't lay well in winter.  They may also be laying in the pasture.  Usually when somebody sells hens before winter, they are selling the worst layers, certainly not their best hens.
 
                                  
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I'll try giving them a few different options then. They don't venture very far from the barn and often times they just stay in it. I got a Great Pyrenees pup two weeks ago as well which probably has them stressed as well but they've always been around dogs.

As far as pasture quality . . . I'm not sure. I just bought the house in December and it was vacant for a couple years. The grass and weeds are thick and tall where they roam but like I said they don't go far.

Thanks for the advice everyone!
 
                                                
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Location: 14519
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Like the others mentioned they may be a tad stressed. Once our birds took to laying under the bushes around the house. I found dozens of eggs under one bush when I spotted one hen sitting under it.
 
                                
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Location: Western Pennsylvania
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I agree that they may have found their own hidy-hole to lay in.  Since it's a new environment they are going to choose for themselves where to place the eggs.  You need to have a nice inviting place that they can see when they are in the coop, and place a few wooden eggs in it.  I have tried easter eggs and golf balls but my girls in the past have rolled those things out of the nest, and then out of the coop.  They know, oh yea, they know.

Watch them in the morning.  Not all hens are morning layers, but if you have one come out of the coop without mingling and walk off with a purpose towards a place far away, follow her.  She may catch on to you, but you may be able to see where she is going and see if she has a safe nest somewhere.  The sad thing is usually as soon as you find the nest, and take the eggs she will start looking for another place. 

Chickens are weird sometimes.  They see another hen lay an egg in a nice box and then they think "wow, that's a good place because she is laying there!!"  then they start laying there too.  I have always had the toughest time with my first batch of laying hens, after, when I have younger pullets coming into lay they learn from the older hens, but trying to convince those first hens to lay where I want them to can be a challenge.

Tami
 
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