Before my first flock members were old enough to lay eggs, some of them were using the nest boxes as bedrooms. Chickens poop a lot while they sleep and I knew that I had to put a stop to the nightly nest box occupations. I had read that hanging burlap in front of the nest boxes could deter these unwanted slumber parties and figured it was worth a try.
My original nest box curtains. Charming, no?
The third nest box material choice was the charm: a colorful remnant
of fabric from curtains in my old apartment.
BENEFITS OF NEST BOX CURTAINS
Hens prefer to lay their eggs in a quiet, private place. If you've ever had a free-range hen and stumbled upon a hidden nest of eggs in the yard, you already know this. Nest box curtains provide hens with privacy they appreciate while laying eggs.
Discouraging Vent Picking
When laying an egg, a hen's cloaca (the end of her reproductive tract) becomes distended and exposed as it escorts the egg out the vent. Other chickens witnessing this process can be drawn the the reddened tissue and peck at it. Once pecking begins, further cannibalistic behavior is extremely difficult to stop and can lead to the death of the laying hen. Nest box curtains provide laying hens with privacy and darkness, reducing the risk of cannibalism significantly.
View the video of this hen laying an egg HERE!
I think she approves.Discouraging Egg-Eating
Egg-eating is a horrible habit for a chicken to pick up and is extremely difficult, although not impossible, to break. It can also be a learned behavior from watching others engage in it. The less visible eggs are in a nest, the less likely chickens are to explore them with their beaks, break one open and discover what we already know- they're delicious! Nest box curtains keep eggs out of sight and out of mind.
A broody hen is a hen who is inspired (by decreased daylight conditions and sometimes by seeing a collection of eggs in a nest) to sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch chicks. Broody hens prefer dark, private places. Hens have been known to wander off for several weeks to make themselves a secret nest in a barn or under a porch, and return a few weeks later with chicks in tow! Nest box curtains provide the ambiance expectant mama hens seek.
Broodies inspire other broodies. The power of maternal suggestion is strong and with some hens, the mere sight of another broody on a nest is all it takes to kick her hormones into overdrive. Nest box curtains keep broodies and eggs out of view, reducing the likelihood of a laying flock turning into a sitting flock.
Window treatments to match the nest boxes, of course.