Chicken Behavior: All the Eggs in One Nesting Box

June 8, 2017

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.

eggs in one nesting box
My morning greeting from the coop. Clearly the box on the right was the fave.

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!


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26 thoughts on “Chicken Behavior: All the Eggs in One Nesting Box”

  1. I have 7 boxes in my chicken shed for 14 hens, so depending on the total laid each day I may have 2 or 3 in one box. Recently I put a dog house in the outdoor pen (in a shady spot) thinking it would be cooler on days when the chicken shed can get up to 90+ degrees, and they love it! I’ve come out to find 3 or 4 of my hens in the dog house at the same time. And that’s where I usually find ALL of the eggs laid for the day.

    • My 2 lay their eggs in the same box, even though I have 2 boxes. They used to sleep in the nest box, but one died and when the new one came, the one that was left wouldn’t let her sleep in the coop. So my husband put a higher roost in the coop, but poor Goldie wasn’t allowed in, so she started sleeping on a roost in the covered run. Then Henrietta The Grouch decided SHE wanted to sleep in the run, and wouldn’t let Goldie sleep on that roost, so now Goldie sleeps on a roost in the coop, and Henrietta sleeps on a roost in the run. Nobody sleeps in the nest boxes anymore.

      • I know. Henrietta used to be the sweetest, meekest chicken, and since Pearl died she has turned into a bully. She’s fine during the daytime, and they hang out together, but when it’s time to go to bed she turns into Godzilla. 🙂 We have added roosts and changed up the coop, but nothing has helped.

      • Easy for me to say, as I have 14 hens and 2 roosters, but maybe if you added a few more hens to the mix it would mellow her out a bit.

  2. I have 5 boxes for 9 hens but they will fight for the first box by the hatch every time…and it’s not unusual to see 2 hens piled into one nest . I’ve had chickens for 18 years and they always favor the same nesting box !!

  3. This morning I found Gidget on top of Tiffany in a box! Tiffany kicked Gidget out and Gidget squawked so loudly for the longest time!

  4. I have 12 hens ,and when I first got them ,before they started laying I put nesting boxes out.they would take the straw out and turn them over ,well there is two builded onto my coop ,all 12 of them lay in one box.around 9.30am ill find 6 eggs,I feed them around 10,I go back at 11.30 and I find 6 more in the same box again,every once in awhile ill find one by the coop door,but I can not catch them in the nest box,its weird

  5. Help! I have 6 hens and 3 nest boxes. One of the hens kicks any eggs laid by other hens out of the boxes and then lays her egg. So I find broken eggs on the ground (not eaten) and her lone egg left in the box. I go out at 6am to try to collect eggs before she can do this, but even that’s often too late. Any suggestions?

  6. I have 6 hens one rooster they all lay eggs in one nest. I’ve started moving a couple to a new nest because I want babies. I have never tried hatching them before yet now after a year trying to see if any will brood. I am marking the eggs with a sharpie but the ones I’ve marked are always cold to the touch so I’m using them as dummy eggs. I notice there are two of the hens that are plucking their feather out a sign of brooding. Not sure how or if any of this will work. Any info would be greatly appreciated

    • Oh how exciting. I have posts back talking about broody hens that you can probably find through a search in the search bar on the top right. Yes, those bare patches are called broody spots and they will not set on the eggs until all are ready to be incubated, so have faith. Once they have a set number (usually an odd number around 9-11) they will then set on the eggs for 21 days until hatched. Co-mothering does happen too. Once on then nest make sure they have food and water close and you pull them off the nest at least once every 24 hours to poop. Good luck and keep me posted.

    • Chickens lay different amounts of eggs per week based on their breed. Not all chickens lay the same amount of eggs. For example, Australorops typically lay 5 eggs per week and Orpingtons typically 3-4.

  7. I have 1 box 4 of 6 have been laying in it. Now 1 of the hens has made a roost and will not leave and she will not let the others lay. They are free range. HELP

    • Haha! It sounds like you have a broody hen on your hands. Check out my posts on broody hens for some tips. Put broody hen into the search bar on the top. I have lots of good info here.

  8. We have a flock of 37 hens. We have a “night coop” for them to sleep in, and 4 “laying coops”, each with 4 nesting beds. Until this fall, they have never buried their eggs. Very seldom will they use the nesting beds near the door to the laying coops. I am going to try the “trick” of putting golf balls into the nests near the doors to see if that will help. Our ducks also use the laying coops, and they very seldom will use the nests next to the doors.

    • Sounds like a lovely set up at your place Linda. They may feel that the nests away from the door are safest for their eggs. The golf balls or some wooden eggs may do the trick or even adding some little curtains to make it feel safer too. Keep me posted.

  9. I have 9 Hens and currently 5 are laying and they all lay in the same box. There is 4 boxes to choose from but it’s always the same one. They even wait on the ladder to lay the eggs. Singing the egg song quite loudly.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.