Practice: hens who know best

A Lizard canary hen on the nest, nothing unusual about that.  Now take a closer look: the nest is on the floor.  Why some hens do this I don’t know, but I trust their instincts.

Every year I have a few hens that decide that they know best.  They don’t want to use the nest pan fixed to the side of the cage; they want to be on the floor.  I have three choices:

  1. Insist that I know better.  I can place the nest and dummy eggs in the nest pan, and hope that her maternal instincts will get the better of her personal preferences.
  2. Leave well alone, but that will make it impossible to clean the cage over the next five weeks.
  3. Compromise and create a nest in a glass dish on the floor.  The hen will build her nest where she wanted it, but I can move it, complete with eggs or chicks, when I want to clean the cage.
Floor nest with eggs
Floor nest with eggs


Floor nest with Lizard canary chicks

The dishes I use are glass ash trays, the type you used to see in pubs.  Cheap, hygienic, heavy and toughened.  They stay put, and I don’t have to worry about potential breakages.  I use Pritt Stick to hold the nest liner in place; it’s water soluble, and easy to wash clean after the chicks have left the nest.

The nest dish: a glass ashtray
The nest dish: a glass ashtray


Nest dish with felt liner

Conclusion: a happy hen and if the hen is happy, I am happy.

Addendum 13 May 2016:

Dave Allen has sent me photos of the floor pans he describes in the comments below.  A different answer to the same problem.  It’s always interesting to see other people’s ideas.

Floor nest pan- DAllen


6 thoughts on “Practice: hens who know best

  1. One of my best hens will only nest on the floor. I tried to move the best into a nest pan and place on the wall after 7 days and she deserted the nest. I was able to place the eggs under other hens. Shortly afterwards she built another nest on the floor and has continued to do so for the past 3 years.

  2. I to have the same problem ever year. And my solution is wooden box type nest pan, I lift the nest she has made on the floor and put in the wooden pan. I have just weaned 3 chicks bred this way and in have 2 more pairs sitting the same way. The wooden nest pans have a wire bottom, I can also lift the nest pan out when it come to cleaning out.

  3. I use the cardboard circles that go inside a well kniw brand of dust mask. The pan sits neatly in it on the floor. Disposable.

    1. I used to use short sections of plastic drain pipe to support the nest pan off the floor, but the disposability of a cardboard ring is an advantage.


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