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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Perch vs Nest

Night time nesting
Inside the coop

A couple of days ago Elsie decided that she liked sleeping in her nest box better than perching with the other chickens. Aside from broody hens I haven't seen a chicken do this before so I had a look for advice on the internet.

The consensus seems to be that while there isn't anything damaging they probably shouldn't do it. The most common argument is to keep the eggs clean so they do not need to be washed, though some people say that as long as you don't mind cleaning the nesting straw every day or two instead of once a week then it is not a health problem. If the straw isn't kept clean and they are sleeping on top of faeces then it can lead to potential parasite problems, which is also the case if chickens are sleeping on the floor of the coop instead of a perch.

In order to re-train Elsie there are a couple of things I can do. Firstly tonight when it was dusk and they had put themselves to bed I took Elsie out of her nest box and put her on the perch. Hopefully after a couple of days of relocating her after dark she will be in the habit of perching again. This takes me back to our first week when I had to pick up all 6 chickens from the floor to their perch for 2 days as I don't think they'd ever seen a perch before!

One reason why Elsie may have chosen the nest box is if she has decided that the perch I have is a little bit small or uncomfortable. This weekend I shall have a look to see if I have a flat beam in the shed which could replace their round perch as I have seen suggestions that chickens have trouble on something too round and slippery. Another suggestion is to make the perch higher as they like to roost as high as possible and if the nest box is the same height it will look appealing.

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