Before my first flock members were old enough to lay eggs, some of them were using the nest boxes as bedrooms. Chickens poop a lot while they sleep and I knew that I had to put a stop to the nightly nest box occupations. I had read that hanging burlap in front of the nest boxes could deter these unwanted slumber parties and figured it was worth a try.
Armed with my trusty staple gun, I headed to the coop to install a length of burlap in front of the nest boxes. Within a week of hanging these primitive nest box curtains, the young chickens began roosting like big girls.
I do not recommend burlap as it frays and unravels, making an unsightly mess in the coop, tangling up with pine shavings and itself. I
couldn't bear the sight of it and, replaced it with vinyl tablecloth material. I found that the vinyl got messy looking too. Plan C.
The third nest box material choice was a charm: a colorful remnant of fabric from curtains in my old apartment.
Nest box curtains have additional benefits:
Hens prefer to lay their eggs in a quiet, private place. If you've ever had a free-range hen and stumbled upon a hidden nest of eggs in the yard, you already know this. Nest box curtains provide hens with the privacy they appreciate when laying eggs.
Egg-eating is a horrible habit for a chicken to pick up and is extremely difficult, although not impossible, to break. It can also be a learned behavior from watching others engage in it. The less visible eggs are in a nest, the less likely chickens are to explore them with their beaks, break one open and discover what we already know- they're delicious! Nest box curtains keep eggs out of sight and out of mind.
A broody hen is a hen who is inspired (by decreased daylight conditions and sometimes by seeing a collection of eggs in a nest) to sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch chicks. Broody hens prefer dark, private places. Hens have been known to wander off for several weeks to make themselves a secret nest in a barn or under a porch, and return a few weeks later with chicks in tow! Nest box curtains provide the ambiance expectant mama hens seek.
Broodies inspire other broodies. The power of maternal suggestion is strong and with some hens, the mere sight of another broody on a nest is all it takes to kick her hormones into overdrive. Nest box curtains keep broodies and eggs out of view, reducing the likelihood of ones laying flock turning into a sitting flock.
Nest box curtains can be made of lots of materials. I prefer fabric to others I have tried as it hangs well, wears well and can be washed (in theory, I'd rather just throw it out and change the decor in the coop!). Mine are a simple, no-sew curtain that I staple right onto the wood above the nest boxes.Easy in, easy out.
Matching window treatments are always nice too.
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