4 Problems with my DIY Roll-Away Nestbox August 4, 2013

The ladies are now laying like crazy!  All our hens are laying, so we are getting eggs almost daily. This is the good news; the bad news is that Isa is not completely broken of egg eating. Unfortunately, my DIY roll-away nestbox is not working as well as planned.  We are getting some eggs from her, and she has not tried to open the other hens’ eggs… but if she has the chance she will peck open her own egg almost every time.  It is so frustrating!

A broken eggs is a definite problem in my DIY roll-away nestboxBut I do have hope.  With some tweaking of my DIY roll-away nestbox, I think I can get more, hopefully ALL of her eggs.

Here are the problems we’ve run into with the current version:

  1. My DIY Roll-Away Nestbox must be designed to stay put.  The first version was basically an insert for the regular nest box in the coop.  When I initially installed the inserts, it looked as if the fit would be tight enough that they would stay without further reinforcement, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. However, I think a couple of screws and a board will solve this problem.
  2. The incline of the DIY Roll-Away Nestbox must be steep enough for the egg to roll into the collection area.  This became an issue after the box flipped out a couple times.  I need to find a way to both hold the box securely and hold it at the appropriate angle, too.  The strange thing is that Isa is only eating her own eggs.  I have checked the box to find two eggs that didn’t roll, but that were dirty with the egg Isa broke open and ate right next to them!
  3. Last but not least, someone is now pooping in the nestbox!  I first thought I had a chicken sleeping in the boxes at night, but an evening check revealed that everyone is up on their roost like they should be.  So, during the day someone—or several someones!—are just going into my DIY roll-away nestbox to poop.  Why is this a problem?  One thing is that it makes eggs dirty—and that is annoying. I like pretty eggs that I don’t have to clean.  (Actually I prefer to not clean my eggs at all since  uncleaned eggs with their natural bloom keep longer.)  But another reason dirty eggs are a problem here specifically is that poop can interfere with the eggs’ rolling to the back of the nesting box. If the poop is sufficiently large, it can even block the opening in the back so the eggs can’t roll away safely at all.    (Part of me wonders if Isa is smart enough to be doing this on purpose … I doubt it, but maybe).
  4. The last issue is that a good nesting box material must be found for the DIY roll-away nestbox design.   Before this problem, we had used both wood shavings and straw as nesting materials.  Although MPC doesn’t generally recommend straw for various reasons,  it is what my family personally had access to, so that is what we were using when I started this project in the fall. Luckily the straw hasn’t caused problems for us yet. Still, in a roll-away nest box, neither of these materials are ideal, since the egg won’t roll well. Of course, you don’t want to leave the hard bottom of the nesting box exposed either, because the egg can crack if it doesn’t have a soft surface to land on. With my first DIY Roll-Away Nest Box experiments, I used an indoor-outdoor doormat material.  It provided padding but was uniform in height, so the egg can roll easily.  This worked well for my early tests… but now I’ve discovered that the nest box pooping makes it pretty hard to clean (especially in the winter when the poop is frozen in the mat, ugh).  Also, when an egg does get broken on the mat, that’s a pain to clean, too (and again, it’s worse when frozen).

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So these are the issues. With the necessity of revamping my coop, I look forward to trying to solve these problems.  In the meantime I will be trying mustard filled eggs, which is a traditional way to discourage hens from eating eggs.  If the mustard works maybe I won’t have to fix my roll-away box design and can just go back to regular nesting boxes.

Have any of you tried the mustard method, and do you have any tips? Is prep or clean-up difficult? Did this method work for you?

 

3 Comments
Francesca Austin August 4th, 2013

Is the nest box dark – if not it needs a curtain to make it dark – that will help – also frequent collection. I wouldn’t bother with mustard – egg eaters are determined and that won’t stop the pecking. I have roll away boxes but have not put them together yet and plan to fill the slot where eggs will land with shavings. Top part where hens set will have thin rubber mats.

sherry August 4th, 2013

have you thought about a thick folding of newspaper. Then if they pooped on it you could just throw it out and replace it.

Heather August 5th, 2013

Something I have trouble with in my own roll away nest boxes… They are professionally made stainless steel boxes. My hens are somehow able to stick their heads down where the eggs roll away and pull them back up. Only my most tenacious egg eaters do this and with 70 chickens, one or two eggs doesn’t really make a difference. And the bottom of the boxes is a plastic coated wire mesh so the mess of a broken egg just falls through (conveniently poop and feathers also fall through.) I have a broody that will lay in one of the nest boxes with her head under where the eggs roll away and wait. As hens lay eggs in the boxes next to her and they roll down, she will scoop them up and pull them up under her. 🙂 What silly chickens.

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