How to Get Hens to Lay Where You Want Them To

I’ve always bedded the nesting boxes with pine shavings. The girls seemed to like it, and I found it easy to keep clean with a daily quick pick-up with a kitty litter scoop.

This photo is of the nesting boxes in the big barn. It’s twelve inches off of the ground and built from old barn wood. The HenCam coop has metal boxes, which I prefer because they are easy to clean – the bottoms pop out for scrubbing, and although I’ve never had a mite problem, if I did, I’d be able to disinfect them. But, when I moved the hens into the HenCam coop they did not lay in the boxes. First they laid on the ground, and then they discovered Candy’s hutch. Agnes and Philomena brazenly walked right in and laid eggs in the far right corner where it’s shaded but not too dark, and the eggs are hidden.

When Candy was younger, she’d never have let the hens into her home. I’ve seen her in full-bunny attack mode, with teeth bared, staring down a hen who dared to walk up her ramp. But, Candy has mellowed in her old age. Or, maybe she likes these hens.

In any case, I don’t want chickens or eggs in Candy’s hutch. Candy keeps her home immaculately clean. The chickens poop. I don’t want to collect eggs from in there, where they could be broken by a hopping bunny. I don’t want to hunt every afternoon for the eggs. I want them in one place, in the coop, in the nesting boxes.

What to do? I tried taking up Candy’s ramp and not letting the hens in. You might have seen agitated brown hens leaping at Candy’s house. I tried putting those hens in the nesting boxes in the coop. They wouldn’t stay put. One laid on the ground. One stopped laying, which isn’t a good thing at all.

What was it about the hutch that they liked so much? It wasn’t Candy’s grumpy company. It was the soft and deep bedding. My hens had found the equivalent of Frette sheets. So, I filled the nesting boxes with hay,

and the hens filled them with eggs.

Sometimes you have to give the girls a little luxury.


  1. My girls lay in dust extracted straw. They love it. Except for when they are free ranging, then one of them, Ailyn, much prefers to lay hers in a grassy hollow deep in the shrubbery!!!

    • Yes, moldy hay is a danger all around. If kept in a barn it can spontaneously erupt into flames! Have you ever felt a hot bale? I have. Scary. The hay I use is perfectly good hay that the goats won’t deign to eat. Fussy boys. But, Candy loves it and, it appears, so do the girls. Am hoping to wean them off the hay and back to shaving over time!

  2. When our hens first started laying, they would go into the horse trailer, jump up into the hay bags, and happily lay their eggs in there. They would stand in line or jump on top of another hen. We finally decided we needed to keep the horse trailer closed during the day and they had to adjust. They all lay in the coop and I don’t mind where, just as long as they are happy.

  3. A few months back my dad gave me a doghouse that I thought I could use in a broody coop design. Well that never happened. So it’s in the run and I decided to just leave it as the hens really seem to like sitting on the top of it during the day to preene. Anyway, one evening when I locked up I noticed my Buff Monarca was missing, I wenting looking. Sure enough, there she was on about 18-20 assorted eggs in that doghouse. The winds apparently had managed to blow quite a few leaves into it and the hens thought it was perfect ;-)

    Terry, glad you were able to satisfy the girls.

  4. AHHH! I guess the hay worked? Maybe they like the peace and quiet of Candy’s house? This morning when I went out to feed, one of my Orpington’s was standing right in the center of the coop frozen like a statue…Yep….laid an egg right there in the middle of the hen yard. I guess when ya gotta do do it!

  5. The best place to lay an egg is often the most hilarious. My Gold laced Wyandotte began her career by laying on TOP of a nest box made of a wooden soda box. She insisted on it, sitting there all splayed out, trying to get comfy on top of a bare wooden box. The eggs rolled off into the space between the nest and the wall…found three in there in perfect shape. So I tried to get her to lay in the proper box, nope. I took her cue and put a little plastic wash tub there, lined with shavings, and added a couple wooden eggs. She went there with glee…but so did half the other hens! There was much squawking and squabling over that precious box! What is your favorite picture or memory of a hen sitting on a nest…in an old barn on the hay, in a bushel basket..or in an old straw hat…that sort of thing? Pretty, and country-style romantic.

  6. A mystery worth of Agatha Christie, complete with red herrings!

  7. Rats! I was hoping they were laying in the rabbits’ bed so you’d think Candy was an Easter bunny…