You may have noticed that your chickens have a habit of moving around their bedding material in their nesting box, forming a snug “bowl” shape around them.
I guess it’s the equivalent of us humans getting the blankets just right around us in bed on a cold night!
But, for us chicken owners this can be a bit frustrating when you see some of the bedding has been kicked onto the floor!
To help with the cleanliness of the coop and your chicken’s comfort, here’s why chickens kick bedding from their nesting box and how you can encourage them not to!
Why Chickens Kick Bedding From Their Nesting Box
It’s literally in a chicken’s instinct to make nests. In the absence of a nesting box, they will usually make one somewhere in the coop or backyard themselves!
But, when they see a nice, quiet, and perfectly set up nesting box it’s natural they want to make themselves comfortable.
This involves a bit of shuffling the bedding around, tossing it aside with their beaks, and kicking it away, sometimes even out of the nesting box! This is all considered normal nest-building behavior and it’s something they do for their psychological well-being.
Chickens may also feel the need to kick bedding from their nesting box if it’s simply not comfortable for them. This can be from uncomfortable bedding material or using too much bedding.
How To Stop Chickens From Kicking Bedding From Their Nesting Box
Finding bedding in and around the coop is pretty normal for backyard farmers. But, there’s a limit, right?
Sometimes it even seems like your chickens are doing it on purpose! If you’ve got chickens that are kicking the bedding from the nesting box, then there are a few common causes and a few common fixes.
Here are some slight adjustments you can make to stop your chickens from kicking their bedding from the nesting box.
Use Less Bedding
Sometimes you may simply be using too much bedding for your chickens. The recommended depth of your bedding is 2 inches for small or bantam chickens, and 4 inches for medium size to large breeds.
Your chickens need enough to create themselves a nice “bowl” impression on the bedding. But any more may cause your chickens to move it around a bit too much, and their more likely to kick it out of the box!
Try A Different Bedding
Sometimes it’s not about the amount of bedding you’ve used. Some chickens will kick bedding out of their nesting box simply because they find it uncomfortable.
This doesn’t always mean you’re using unsuitable bedding, some chickens just have different preferences.
Most chickens aren’t fussy, but there are some particular hens that can be a little more picky.
In general though, you should use something light, dry, and comfortable (i.e not sharp or spikey!).
If you have a fussy chicken, some popular bedding materials you can try are:
- Pine Needles: Surprising absorbent and provide a nice fragrance.
- Hemp Bedding: Super absorbent and low cost
- Straw: Easy to source and suits most chickens.
- Aspen shavings: One of the safest, cleanest, and absorbent wood shavings.
Use A Nesting Box With A Higher Lip
If you tried everything and you keep finding your nesting box bedding on the ground, outside of the nesting box, then you can look to adjust your nesting box a bit.
If you use a box with a higher lip or deeper base, then your chickens might not be able to kick it out as much when they are shuffling around getting comfortable.
If you have inbuilt nesting boxes you can try fixing a small piece of wood or plastic to the lip, extending it, and making the nesting box deeper.
Get creative here to make something comfortable, but secure for your chickens.
Why A Good Nesting Box Is So Important
Using a decent-sized, clean, and comfortable nesting box really makes a difference in the well-being of your flock. Plus, a chicken that’s happy with its nesting arrangements is sure to lay more eggs than one that’s uncomfortable or in distress!
If your chickens are not certain of where they are to lay their eggs or are unhappy with the arrangements, the natural egg-laying cycle will be under stress. This can lead to fewer eggs overall, or more problems with the eggs!
Further to this, sometimes one nesting box isn’t enough! You should also be sure to have enough nesting boxes per chicken in your flock!
Be sure to change the bedding in the nesting box weekly to bi-weekly depending on how many chickens are using it!
The cleaner the nesting box is, the more comfortable your chickens will be. This may even stop them from kicking out so much of the bedding!
Just to be clear, it’s in a chicken’s instinct to throw their bedding around in the nesting box. They love to make themselves comfortable before doing their business.
But there’s a limit to what’s considered normal. If it seems like your chicken is kicking bedding out of its nesting box on purpose — it probably is!
Try using different bedding, or adjust how much you’re using. If it’s getting absurd, try using a deeper box, or add a higher lip to it to help the bedding stay inside!
A good nesting box is essential for a happy and healthy flock, after all!