Two’s a Crowd

Most of the hens lay mid-morning. There are three nesting boxes for six Ladies. Plenty of room for all. Except, for some reason, this morning, the middle box is the place to be. Owly looks in. The spot is taken.

Owly looks in


Veronica looks in. Being Veronica, she complains loudly.

nesting boxes


Veronica thinks about pushing her way in. But someone has already done that.

two hens


It doesn’t look very comfortable, does it? Neither Nancy Drew, nor Beulah are going to give an inch. I leave them be. A half-hour later, the Black Stars are out and about. Veronica is in the nest, and look what’s under her.

two eggs


It would be comical, except sometimes what with all of the stomping and jostling and squatting, an egg breaks. So far the eggs that the Ladies lay are sturdy enough to withstand the commotion, but that’s not the case with the Gems. A few of those older hens lay thin-shelled eggs, and several times a week I find a broken one. I know the hens that are no longer able to make strong shells – Jasper and Opal – and if I was a real farmer, they’d be gone. But, lucky for them, they get to stay put while I tidy up after them.


  1. My 2 year 4 month old warren hybrid has now started to lay soft shelled eggs. Sometimes they are not too bad, but other times they break in the nest box and her feet get covered in yolk. I can tell when she is due to lay a “softie” as she goes very quiet (which is not like her at all) in the afternoons (she always lays in the mornings). Once she has got the softie out, she is fine again. She has access to oyster shell and grit, but I don’t think they bother much with the oyster shell. I realise this could be an age thing now, would you recommend more calcium or when they get to a certain age, would this not make much difference? My 2 hens are totally Pets (I could never be a “real” farmer). p.s. the photos are great – thanks!

    • I have a 4-year-old Black Star/BSL/Harco hen that has laid thin-shelled eggs since I first got her last summer, but since I have been offering free-choice cooked, ground-up eggshells to the flock in addition to free-choice oyster shell, there has been a marked improvement. I often see her helping herself to the eggshell dish. It seems that some of my hens like oyster shell, while others prefer egg shell. Maybe your hen is one that would prefer eggshell too?

  2. Hilarious – especially the second photo of Nancy and Beulah together! It looks like they are telling you that you were not invited and to go away. I’m not often at home during the day when mine do their laying, so I usually only see multiple eggs in the same nest, not multiple hens. So far, I’ve been lucky with respect to broken eggs in the nest box. It only happened with one egg, and I was able to remove it before any more eggs were laid. There have been soft-shelled eggs laid in our coop sometimes, but they usually are deposited on the poop board first thing in the morning. Very considerate really, because they are very easy for me to clean up along with the rest of the nightly deposits.

  3. I read a paper about that (they call this behavior ‘gregarious nest’) and the authors hypothesized that is an antipredator response.

  4. You’re a good chicken mom :-) My coop has five nesting boxes and usually all eggs are in one.. or two boxes.

  5. We have two nest boxes and the girls definitely prefer one of them. I haven’t seen them piled up together like that! Maybe Beulah and Nancy are giving each other the business like “what are you doing in MY box?!?”

  6. Been there, done that. Most I have had in nest box is 4 !!, my boxes are slightly larger than yours and even though there are plenty they still have a favourite. One day Blondie my regular broody decided to take over the favourite box, but the other 3 were having none of it. I could hear the commotion from indoors and had to go and sort them out. Chickens !! :)

  7. I have the nesting boxes with the removable bottoms. On occasion I will find the bottom of one of them on the floor or on top of the box below.
    I know its from two and I’ve seen three of my “slightly” over weight girls shoe horning themselves into the one box.

  8. Mine are just the same. I have three large nest boxes between seven bantam girls and they always want which ever box is the current favourite. I have seen up to four girls in one box with lots of complaining going on. My theory is that they like to lay in one place to provide a clutch that could be sat on as my resident broody girl always finds the box with the eggs and sits on them until I remove them.

  9. I have 6hens. Only 4are laying. There are 6 nests. One hen is dropping her egg from the roost. What to do ???