So you are saying to yourself, “but didn’t you just change the nesting boxes?” and you would be right! Why did we change again? Let me explain.
First and foremost we want to have the best eggs for our customers. That means big, fresh, CLEAN eggs. Clean to us also means easy to clean.
Our first set of nesting boxes were your standard wood filled with hay. The hay became a problem because the girls kept kicking it out so there was nothing to cushion the eggs. Sometimes an egg would break and we had to take time cleaning out the wood box and disinfecting it. We decided wood, which is porous, was not the most sanitary option for the ladies to nest in. We even tried disposable nesting pads. They increased the cleanliness but a broken egg would still soak through.
PLASTIC!!…..Plastic is easy to clean, right? Of course it is! So our next set of nesting boxes were made out of plastic buckets. We used the nesting pads and could easily pull out the bucket and wash it. The hens took to them right away but we quickly ran into a snag. The ladies grew so fast over the winter that they started to have a difficult time turning around in the bucket, stepping on or messing on the eggs. This was not working at all.
After calculating the cost of the nesting pads we decided that buying a fancy nesting box would eventually pay for itself. This high tech looking box has got some great features. The red flaps give the ladies privacy. There are no walls in the box so more hens can use it at a time. There is a washable rubber mat for them to sit on. The mat is at an angle which causes the eggs to roll down into a tray in front. That tray is covered so the chickens can’t get at them.
At first the ladies did not want to use it. They started laying eggs on the ground. I put some nesting pads on top of the rubber mat which got them started. I slowly removed the material and they are now laying clean eggs and not cracking them anymore.
See the ladies checking out the new nesting boxes on their YouTube channel:
While the coop was in the process of being remodeled, we pulled out a few nesting boxes for them to lay eggs in. If we didn’t give them with something to lay eggs in who knows where we would find them!
The thing that’s always fascinated me is how jealous chickens get. Don’t believe me? Did you know that you can give hens over a dozen nesting boxes to choose from but once one of the ladies pick a nesting box to use, all the other hens HAVE TO have that same same box! There are 10 beautiful boxes wide open, but noooo…….they want the one box that SHE has!!
Taking a break from the remodel, I caught what I thought was these 2 hens having a standoff for the nesting box. When I got closer to take a picture I found there was already one of the ladies in the box who was facing off with these 2! This is a first! Must have been uncomfortable having 3 hens in 1 box!! Then to top if off, this little Easter Egger comes by contemplating if she can fit in too! Of course she gave up pretty quickly but the stand off of the 3 hens lasted about 20 minutes before the interlopers finally gave up.
See the action for yourself on the ladies YouTube Channel:
The words you hate to hear when you are on a farm. SNOW IS COMING! The warning came earlier this year so we were caught off guard. You should always do a thorough coop cleaning in the early spring and in the late fall before the snow comes. Last year it was in November.
We’d been talking about all the changes we wanted to make to the coop and agreed that the time to do it was when we did the bi-annual cleaning. Now snow has been predicted in a couple days and we were completely unprepared!
Why changes? Well, let’s see. You probably notice we have no internal wall board. We put up some of that shiny thin insulation between the beams but never put up drywall. We didn’t want to overdo the pocket book for a coop and we definitely didn’t want to insulate more. We found some thin, low cost, pre-primered no VOC plywood to finish the building and reduce the drafts.
We also noticed the ladies would try and jump from the roosts straight across to the nesting boxes a couple feet away or they would struggle trying to find a spot to jump off of the roost that was far enough away from the nesting boxes.They are big, fat and not very graceful when they try to fly so some of them banged themselves up! Not too bright. Moving the roosts and nesting boxes seemed to be in order.
Also, after spending 6 weeks eradicating lice from the coop, a lesson learned from getting somebody’s FREE rooster….(now we know why he was free), cleanliness is a must. The nesting boxes are a nightmare. First we started by covering the wooden floor of each nesting box with shelf liner. We learned quickly that there is a lot of scratching going on in those boxes and the liner wouldn’t stay in the box. We tried hay for nesting material but it was kicked out as well. So we found some nesting pads which were disposable but did not stand up to broken eggs or a good shot of poop. Every now and then the wood in the box was dirty with something nasty and it is so hard to disinfect. I still am not convinced its clean enough, even after a diluted bleach solution spray. We needed an easy clean nesting box! And the poop deck…….what can you say. It didn’t go all the way to the back wall so poop collected there requiring me to pull everything out, crawl under the roost and clean it out.
Finally, winter is the worst time of the year. The ladies don’t leave the coop when it’s snowing or very wet. There are a lot of big hens taking up space in that coop. They tend to get on each other’s nerves which usually means pecking. We need to give them more space.
Hardware Store Run! We got everything we needed to get the job done. Plywood, screws, a tarp, buckets…..yes buckets. You’ll see…….
The girls got kicked out of their coop bright and early and the door was shut for the rest of the day. All the bedding on the floor was shoveled out into the tractor scoop and dropped into the compost. The whole coop was swept and even vacuumed, all the way to the mesh coverings of the peak vents. Everything was moved from the coop, and I mean EVERYTHING! The heating panels off the walls, the nesting boxes and the roosts. Then came the scrubbing. All-natural non-toxic dish soap for general washing, homemade orange peel cleaner for tough spots and a fresh scent, and finally a light spray with a very dilute bleach solution final disinfection.
Now it’s time to put everything back in. Roosting bars now go on the short back wall. The poop deck is no longer a table. A sheet of plywood is covered with a new tarp and put on a ledger rather than table legs. Now we can slide it in and out easier. And the best part?…..The deck is now notched to reach all the way back to the wall! …..Yay!
And for the grand finale………..plastic bucket nesting boxes!……..Whaaaaat? You read it right. Buckets for nesting boxes. An egg can break in there and you can wash that bucket out and return it super clean! Ahhhh…..what a relief. But of course the question is, will the ladies use them? Well that’s a story for another day!
See both Before and After videos on their YouTube Channel: