Have you ever seen this? Do your chickens seem to lay all their eggs in one nesting box? Well, my chickens certainly do. My flock has this strange habit but it turns out that I am not alone. Other chicken keeper’s chickens do this as well.
On average, it is recommended that you have one nesting box per four hens. So with my flock of nine, I should have a minimum of three boxes. I have nine. It turns out that no matter the flock or coop there is usually a preferred nesting box. It is the one where most of the eggs are laid that day. In my coop, the favorite nesting boxes are on the top row. Sometimes the boxes rotate and sometimes there are a few rogue eggs in other boxes, but this strange little habit of laying all the eggs in one nesting box has gone on for years.
Well, it turns out that chickens are actually pretty smart! This is a natural way for the chickens to keep their eggs safe. When chickens are young before they are laying, they can be encouraged to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes with wooden eggs. Simply by faking them out with these wooden dummies, the chickens realize— Lay your egg here! Like a big arrow directing them to event parking! Chickens naturally seek out and consider the safety of their egg laying location. Often it is dark or concealed.
I’ve watched the first egg of the day being laid. The box for the day has been selected. The next hen comes into the coop and peeks into each nesting box before making a choice as to where she is going to put her egg for the day. Box by box, she peers inside considering the light, bedding and cleanliness I would assume. She even peers into boxes with broody girls. It turns out, they rely on the judgement of their flock members.
They trust their flock mates so much that they put value on where their fellow hens decided to lay their eggs earlier in the day. The hens simply agree with the earlier egg laying hens and add their egg to the clutch in one nesting box. This is also why some chickens will even climb into a box with a broody hen, squish together and and lay their egg with the broody. It is a possibility that the eggs were laid together to help continue their genetic lineage. If these eggs were fertile and there was a broody hen, the chances of having their egg hatched would be high, especially if there were all in the same nest. Broody chickens will hatch any eggs. Their desire for motherhood is great.
Chicken behavior is fascinating to observe. It’s one of my favorite things watching chicken T.V. Do your chickens lay their eggs in one nesting box too? Tell me, I’d love to know!