1. Adequate Padding in the Nest Boxes
Eggs that have a soft spot to land will be less likely to break than those that drop onto the bottom of a hard nest box. This is also a good way to prevent hens from becoming egg-eaters. I use Nest pads with or without chopped straw on top of them. I don’t use regular straw in nests anymore because the hens scratch it out of the nest boxes, leaving them unprotected.
Kuhl nest pads and linersSpruce the Coop Herbal Fusion mixed into the nesting material makes for a welcoming nest!
2. Sand as Litter/Bedding in the Coop and Run
Sand dries up droppings quickly and keeps chickens’ feet cleaner than any other litter type. Chickens that walk into a nest box with clean feet do not soil the nest or eggs with mud or droppings that they walked through enroute to the nest box.
3. Train Chicks Not to Sleep in Nest Boxes
Good habits are easier to instill than bad habits are to break. Chickens should be discouraged from sleeping in nest boxes from the day they move into the coop because chickens that sleep in nest boxes poop in nest boxes. When eggs are laid on top of fecal matter, they become contaminated. Information about training chickens not to sleep in nest boxes, here.
Barricading the nest boxes with egg cartons discourages sleeping in them
4. Provide One Nest Box for Every Four Hens
Sometimes when there are not enough nest boxes, hens will lay their eggs outside the coop where sanitation cannot be controlled. Providing enough nest boxes is one step towards ensuring that hens do not wander away to lay their eggs.
5. Check Nest Boxes Early and Often
Occasionally a hen will soil the nest regardless of efforts made to prevent it. Checking nest box sanitation as early as possible in the day provides the opportunity to clean them before eggs are laid. Frequent egg collection allows for periodic sanitation checks throughout the day.
6. Collect Eggs Frequently