As chicken keepers, we have a lot of preparations to do before getting our first chickens or starting a new flock. From preparing the coop and fending away predators to making sure there are enough nest boxes for all your birds.
If you are new to chicken keeping there will eventually come a day when you notice that your chickens are all laying eggs in the same nest. While your first concern may have been that you don’t have enough nesting boxes, is that the issue with your flock? If not, why do your chickens all lay in the same nest?
Your chickens may use the same nest simply due to preference. Many chickens like to lay eggs where the others have laid, so it’s not surprising to see your chickens fighting over a nest even when there are other nesting boxes available. It may also have to do with where your boxes are placed in the coop.
Below, I will discuss why some chickens fight over the same box, why that can be a problem, and what you can do about it.
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Why Are My Chickens Laying Eggs in the Same Nest?
Many chicken farmers would often prepare several nesting boxes to cater to their flock as it helps the chickens feel more comfortable when they lay eggs. However, some farmers may see their flock fighting over a single nest despite the rest of the boxes being available.
So, why would your chickens prefer to fight over the same nest?
Your Chickens Are Playing Sheep
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that your chickens aren’t aware that they are chickens, but they are simply playing sheep by following what the other chickens are doing. Chickens can be fowls of habit, and when they see one chicken (or their eggs) in a specific nest, they may all want to lay eggs in the same nest too.
This also becomes more common if you have a very dominant chicken in the flock, as you’ll see the rest becoming more prone to follow in their footsteps. It’s almost like having a cult following between your flock of chickens, and you have a single chicken that has become a sort of influencer to the rest.
Your Chickens Have a Preference
Like how humans have their preferred hangouts, your chickens may prefer a certain nesting box in the coop. Many keepers have noticed that nesting boxes placed on the far left of or far-right of the coop are more popular than the nests in between, depending on how the coop is built.
Why this happens may be due to the chicken’s capability for visual lateralization. This means your chickens can watch out for two things at a time, allowing them to multitask as they lay eggs in the nest.
For example, your chickens may prefer the left nesting box so they can watch out for predators with their left eye and keep a lookout for food with their right eye. Although it may sound weird at first, this is a common habit in chickens that helps them feel the safest.
Your Chickens Want to Socialize
Although chickens would mostly prefer to hide away when they are laying eggs, some tightly knit flocks may want to socialize with each other regardless of the time of day. When this happens, you’ll notice all your chickens rushing to a single nest as they believe that’s where the socializing happens.
It’s an odd chicken behavior, but it isn’t unheard of. This is commonly seen when you have dividers between your nesting boxes because you believe your chickens will prefer the privacy.
Is It Bad If My Chickens Lay Eggs in the Same Nest?
Subsequently, many may wonder if it’s bad for their chickens to lay eggs in the same nest.
While it’s not directly detrimental since chickens are usually social fowls after all, below are some downsides that you may encounter if your chickens continue to lay eggs in the same nest.
There Is a Higher Risk of Eggs Breaking
As eggs accumulate in a single nest, there will be an increase in the possibility of eggs breaking. Your chickens may also accidentally trample on the eggs that the other chickens have laid, creating a messy situation in the nest for you to clean.
On more rare occasions, your chickens may also become so territorial that they could push the other eggs out of the nest. You wouldn’t want to waste a good egg, so it’s always best to try having your chickens lay in separate nests.
Your Chickens May Fight It Out
Like some humans, your chickens may likely fight it out if they don’t get a spot in their preferred hangout. From aggressive pecking to noisy squabbles, these are some of the habits you’ll want to limit within your flock.
Your Chickens May Feel Stressed
Chickens can feel stressed over various reasons – perhaps there are predators in or around the coop, perhaps they need to fight for food, or perhaps they fight over the same nesting box to lay eggs in.
Stressed chickens generally have reduced egg production, so it’s always best to keep stress at bay for your chickens. If there is a particularly aggressive chicken in your flock, it may be a better idea to keep that chicken apart from the rest of your chickens.
What to Do about Chickens Laying Eggs in the Same Nest?
So, what can you do about this odd habit? After all, you would want your chickens to lay eggs comfortably as opposed to having to fight for space. Here are some tricks to try if you would like to help your chickens spread out their nesting habit.
Place Some Fake Eggs in the Other Boxes
As I’ve mentioned, your chickens may be fighting over a single nesting box because they see that the other chickens have laid in it. To help them break out of this perception, you can try placing fake eggs in the other nests to trick them into thinking the other chickens are using the rest of the boxes too.
Plastic eggs are a great pick for this as they are light and resemble regular eggs the most. They are also more convenient to clean and don’t break as easily. If you don’t have any plastic eggs, you may try to substitute them for golf balls or other items of a similar shape and size.
Remove The Dividers
Chickens are private fowls when it comes to laying eggs. However, if you have a flock that seems to enjoy the company of others when they are laying eggs, you may consider removing the dividers in your nesting boxes.
This will create a large communal nesting box for your chickens, and eventually, they will assume it’s just one big nest. By then your chickens should spread out across the nest when this happens, creating a more comfortable situation in the coop.
Note that you should still retain one or two private nesting boxes for chickens that may be a little shy to use a communal nest. I recommended that you place these “private” boxes farther from the communal nest as this will make it more comfortable for the flock’s shy chickens.