Dirty egg problem solved?

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Marigold
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Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by Marigold » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:12 pm

This Spring, i provided my new flock of 5 pullets with a nice long perch 5ft off the ground, under the roof, facing out to the West over the garden. The two leghorns immediately took to roosting up there at night, joined by the other three heavier breed hybrids. They roosted up there all summer in the cooler air, the coop and nest boxes remained clean, and consequently no eggs were ever soiled.
When it started to get cold and windy in November I removed the perch and they started to roost normally in the coop. Unfortunately, for several weeks now, I've been trying in vain to stop the top hen from roosting and pooing in the one nest box they all use to lay in. I tried the usual flower-pot-in-box trick, with the result that they all laid very early in the morning, before I got there, on the piles of overnight poo on the run floor. They didn't think to use the second nestbox, oh no. When I stopped leaving the pot in the nestbox at night, they still laid on the coop floor for several days, as if making a point.
Today it was time to remove all the old aubiose from the run floor and coop, have a good cleanup, and replace with clean bedding in coop and run. Because it was in the way on the floor, and getting dirty, I replaced the long perch up under the roof, thinking they now knew where to sleep on cold and windy nights. I went down to check them at 4.30, and yes, - all 5 of them were up there on the perch, cuddled up against the wind. i noticed Lily Leghorn, the boss, was in one of the central, warmer positions.
At least it will have solved the dirty egg problem, and the coop will stay clean!
A good example of political party solidarity, I think - at least the chickens had got their second referendum, with a conclusive result - eggsit.
rick
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by rick » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:49 pm

I think they are fine on an open high perch anytime and they will always go for it when available. The only slight problem here is that the Orp and the feather footed bantam get stuck up there unless there is a ramp to walk down in the morning - Bonnie because she isn't built for decent and Linden because he is worried about breaking feathers. The CLBs fly up and down no problem though even they will use the ramp. Otherwise a good screen from breezes is all they need - and a fairly wide perch so they can keep their feet warm.
(I must admit to having power in there and a thermostat that will take the edge off the air if it gets seriously sub-zero.)
I had the hens abandon the nest boxes last summer but I think that was the mice being around and it isn't since having the brown hybrids that I have had an egg in each box - all these have to use the same one!
Have got a bit of a half way house between the two perch/roost arrangements at the moment. Its open but on top of the nest boxes (a bit like roosting on the top of a coop but undercover.)
... Ive got to go in for a change on the run floor again too - tried Dengy but its very light and easily walked into the house. Back to Auboise though if there was something similar but just a bit heavier that would be ideal.
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by Marigold » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:45 am

My only concern is because the high perch is only 18" from the open, unsheltered side of the run, facing SW into the worst of the SW winter gales. The open pophole of the coop itself faces into the NE corner, where the run sides are shielded with transparent tarp in winter to protect from direct cold rain, wind and snow. Still, each to her own, I suppose. At least I cleared out the gutter yesterday, which should help to minimise rain blowing in under the eaves.
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by Marigold » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:55 pm

Today I found that only one of them had laid her egg in the 'popular' nestbox. The other four had all laid in the one they had previously all ignored....
I've been wondering whether it's possible to put a high perch across the South-X-West corner, which is more sheltered by willow screening on those two run sides, plus a very large yew tree outside on the corner. Will have to wait until next week, though, as I've got the family descending en masse this weekend for pre-Christmas visit, which is a major planning operation.
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by Margaid » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:35 pm

Sounds like a good option if it's possible.
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by Marigold » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:29 pm

Today I fixed a new perch high in the end part of the run, which is sheltered on three sides by willow screening as a windbreak. Then I took down the previous long high perch, which gave no shelter except for the roof. I went down at dusk to see if they had worked out the change of plan. Lily Leghorn, "The Boss,' had established herself in the nestbox they all use for eggs, but all the rest were milling around the run, not knowing what to do, having apparently forgotten what the coop was for, not able to find the previous high perch, and not having noticed the new one in a better place. So I hooked Lily out and settled her on the new perch, then added the other four, and they all settled down together. I'll give them a few days and then see what they want to do.
I've ordered some new clear Monotex tarp, which I'll fix round the sides of the end part, to make it properly wind-and-snow proof for the winter. The willow screening is good as a windbreak, and gives airy filtered shade in hot weather, but last year the snow blew right through it and made huge heaps all over the run.
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Re: Dirty egg problem solved?

Post by rick » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:56 pm

Hopefully, if just one remembers tomorrow evening they will all follow. Last time I moved the perch it was a bit lower. They found that OK but stood there looking at the empty space where the last perch was and making hesitant motions to launch up to it - funny birds!
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