Do Chickens Make Their Own Nests?
I have been asked this question many times. Chickens DO NOT make their own nests like other birds do. Wild birds will gather materials like twigs, twine, fabric, grasses, mud etc. and will actually construct a nest in a tree or a corner of a building or any other number of places. Every different type of bird will build a nest specific to their breed. Some nests are very simple and some are quite elaborate depending on the bird.
Chickens do not run around collecting materials to actually construct a nest. Given that you want your chickens to lay their eggs in the same place every single day so that you can collect them, you need to provide nesting boxes for your hens. Different hens will prefer different types of nesting material in their nests so I provide a variety of nesting materials in the different boxes. Some like hay, some like straw and others prefer shavings so you just need to figure out why works best for you and your chickens. My chickens have me well trained and I provide all three!
If your chickens don’t like the nests that you have provided, they will look for other places that they like better. I have found eggs in an old car, under a low hanging bush and up in the hay loft. The chickens will make their own nests of sorts by hollowing out an area in the dirt or the hay or anywhere else that they can so that the eggs will stay in place and won’t roll out and break. I personally don’t consider this as making their own nests as they are not collecting nesting material and actually building a unique nest.
Chickens that don’t lay eggs in the nests that you provide can be a problem. If you have a rooster, your chickens may sit on these hidden eggs and you will end up with surprise chicks. This may not bother you if you have the room to house these extra chicks but other people may not be able to have more chickens than they already have. Also, if you want the eggs to eat or sell, you will end up with a lot less eggs over time. So, it is very important to figure out why your hens aren’t using the nesting boxes that you provide.
Solving Nesting Problems
If you have new hens that can’t get with the program, one of the easiest ways to help solve nesting problems is to confine your chickens to their chicken house for a week. This will force your chickens to lay eggs in their own nests that you provided. Chickens tend to be creatures of habit and it typically won’t take more than a week to reset their behavior.
Make sure that you have enough nesting boxes for your chickens though or they will start looking for a new place to lay their eggs once you turn them loose again. Chickens have a pecking order and fighting can occur if you don’t have enough nests for your chickens. The more dominant hens will get first choice of nesting boxes and the lower ranking hens will be forced to find another place to lay their eggs.
Try changing the nesting material if you have one or more chickens that don’t want to use your nesting boxes. You may try this if your hens prefer to lay their eggs on the ground in the coup instead of in the nesting boxes.
Do chickens make their own nests? I personally say no, not in the typical sense that other birds do. So it is very important to provide nesting boxes that are easy to access, provide privacy and that already have nesting material in them.