The hens have gotten bigger and more excited about laying eggs to the point they are tearing apart anything we put in the nesting boxes.I can’t tell you how much clean straw has been put into the boxes and then just as quickly kicked out on the floor. I put shelf liner in the bottom of the boxes to make it easy to keep clean, but they scratch it up, peck at it and try to shred it for more nesting material. I’ve even found pieces of shelf liner outside in the field! And it’s not just the hen in the box kicking straw out of the nest, it’s also the chicken next door wanting her nest to be bigger reaching her neck around to the neighbors nest and pulling one piece of straw at time out of the their box and tucking it into hers! Enough is enough! We’ve had too many cracked eggs from them being laid on the bare wood in a strawless nest box.
Once again we set out to research the best alternatives. We found a wood based fiber glued down to a paper backing. It can be built into a nest but since it’s attached to the paper it can’t be kicked out on the floor or be stolen by the neighbor. The fiber with backing is matted down to start, so a chicken has to pull at the fibers to build a nest. Plus, with the paper liner at the bottom the wood isn’t getting dirty. When it gets real dirty you just throw it away and pop in a new one. Still cheaper than buying straw over and over again.
Now it was time to test out the new material. Of the 12 next boxes we replaced 10 of them with the new material. Then I sprinkled them all with some dried herbs to attract attention. The first 2 days we found all the eggs in the two straw boxes. After those 2 days the straw was pretty much gone, like usual. We finally started to find the fibers being slowly built into nests. We knew we made the successful transition when I walked into the coop and a hen started to sing the egg song, jumped out of a fiber nesting box, ran past me out the door and loudly announced “Bukah!” I just laid an egg in the best nesting box EVER!