Chickens,  Farm Life

Training Your Chickens Where to Lay

photo of an egg in a nesting box and one laying on the ground
Just an example of what you do and don’t want when training your chickens where to lay

So it is time for your chickens to lay and you don’t want every day being an Easter egg hunt. How exactly do you go about training your chickens where to lay? I will be sharing with you a few options for training your chickens where to lay as well as what I did.

Options for Training Your Chickens Where to Lay

5 photos of ceramic eggs for training chickens where to lay
Ceramic eggs for training your chickens where to lay

When training chickens where to lay you have a few options. You can choose the traditional method of using fake eggs called ceramic nest eggs, some people buy craft eggs from a hobby store, golf balls are an option, or you can do what I did and use the hens eggs. Ceramic nest eggs can be found online, at farm supply stores, or feed stores.

Each of these options work much the same way. You put the chosen eggs in the nesting boxes. You will leave these until you begin to find eggs laid in the boxes. Using fake eggs is simple to know when and what eggs to remove. If you decide to use real eggs you have to be a little more prepared so that you don’t end up keeping old eggs.

Training Your Chickens Where to Lay with Real Eggs

Basket of eggs by pink boots
Basket of fresh eggs

I decided to train my chickens with real eggs. This decision was made after I found a nest in a nearby tree that contained 22 eggs. Since there was no way to know how long the eggs had been there. I decided instead of buying fake eggs why not use some of these to train my chickens to use their nesting boxes.

So that this method works you are going to want to mark your eggs that are being used for training purposes. You can use a marker or sharpie BUT be aware that the mark can wear off. You will want to double up with something a little more permanent. Mark each egg with a knife or some type of object that will make a scar in the shell of the egg.

We used a pocket knife and made a line in the shell of each egg that was for training. This mark will last even if the sharpie wears off. We opted for using the mark and then filled it in with a black sharpie. In the middle of the line I drew a single black dot. This made it easier to see quickly which eggs were which.

After marking the eggs just put a couple in each of your egg boxes. You will not need more than a couple to train your chickens. You don’t want to overfill the boxes and discourage them from using them. Hens share boxes so they will not mind a few eggs already being in there.

How Long Should You Leave Training Eggs

light brown egg in nesting box
Egg laid in nesting box = exactly what you want!

Once hens start laying it will be easy to remove the new eggs. Leave the old ones for a couple more days. This is to be sure that they completely understand this is the laying area. If the hens are still using the boxes after a few more days you can remove the training eggs. What you do with them is up to you.

Did You Use All 22 Eggs for Training?

22 eggs were a lot more than I needed for training my chickens. I only have 4 eggs boxes. I didn’t want to just toss all these eggs. That is just too wasteful. I decided to keep some and inspect them before eating or cooking with them. To do this just break each egg in a single bowl. You don’t have to use a bowl for every egg, just use two bowls. One will be for cooking and one for checking. Once you are sure they are good empty them into the bowl for cooking. This way if you end up with a bad egg you do not have to throw out your complete breakfast.

What do I do About Rebel Birds?

Despite your best effort you still have chickens that want to lay in their own spot. Ahh, these are your rebel birds. I do have some advice but can’t promise it will work for all your chickens. This helped with most of mine but I still have some that want to do their own thing. Here is what I have found to do.

When you find eggs out of the nest boxes you generally find a nest the chicken has made. Mess up the nest. Block the spot with something when possible. This lets the chicken know this is not where you want the eggs to be. She will have to find a new location of use the nest boxes.

After you have torn up a nest look around for new ones. Sometimes the chickens will just change where they lay. You will have to tear up more nests to get your point across.

Does This Method Work Every Time?

Light cream colored egg laying on ground while training chickens where to lay
Rebel bird laid egg outside on the ground= Not what you want
Light cream egg laid in mud
Rebel bird lays egg in mud = not what you want
Nest in back of chicken coop where birds like to lay
Rebel bird nest where I usually find eggs in the back of the coop = I can live with that

This method has worked for me with most of my chickens. I do still have a few rebels that just refuse to use my nest boxes. If this happens you can continue to destroy nests, try another form of egg box, changing your egg box location or do what I decided to do.

If the place she has chosen is not terrible just leave her alone. I prefer chickens use my boxes but I have a couple that lays in the back of my coop. I have one that lays behind my coop door. These places are not awful. The eggs are in a safe location from scavengers, weather, and the chance of being broken. The hens are happy and I can live with it.

Finally, just keep a periodic check of the areas where your chickens might be tempted to lay an egg. I check in and around my coop and then inside our fence perimeter. Once they are content they usually don’t change locations unless you make them but it never hurts to keep a check, especially if your egg production drops.

In Closing on Training Your Chickens Where to Lay

Dozen eggs in an egg carton after training chickens where to lay
Dozen eggs after training chickens where to lay

Training your chickens where to lay eggs is really not that difficult for the most part. Some rebel birds can ruffle your feathers but with patience and persistence you can find a middle ground. There is no science to how to accomplish your goal. You may have to try a few trial and errors before reaching your desired zen.

Reader’s Contribute

Have you ever trained chickens where to lay? Did you use one of these methods? If so which and if not how did you do it. Let’s work together to help each other get our birds trained and laying where they should. Tips on rebel chickens? Please share those in the comments below as well.

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I enjoy sharing my world of knowledge with others especially about products that I love and believe live up to their promises and those that I hate and feel mislead consumers for profit. I have started Rhondas Review Corner in an effort to help guide consumers who are curious about products both new and old. I may not know everything but when it comes to products I quickly learn what works and what doesn't and I am happy to share that knowledge. Besides I love to write so really I enjoy both aspects of the deal!

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