Saturday, March 1, 2014

Anatomy of an Egg Box

When we made our chicken coop, one of the features, was of course the infamous "egg box". The overall design specifications were created from a collection of all the info I gathered from Google searches and Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. This is what we came up with...

Here is the external view. I wanted to be able to collect the eggs without having to enter the coop, so I had my husband build an external egg box. The box is locked with a caribiner clip so smarty pants raccoons can't get in. The interior measurement of each box is 12" x 12" x 12".

Below is the interior view from the inside of the coop. I dust the area with diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring substance found in fresh water lakes. Go here and here for info on DE. When mites or lice or other creepy crawly things are exposed to it, or ingest it, it literally cuts them or dries them out eventually killing them. It's a mechanical not chemical killer of mites and lice. I don't think it happens immediately but instead over time and seems to become a deterrent/irritant to the bug.

It can be a lung irritant so one should wear a mask when applying it. You can touch it and hold it, but it makes your hands super dry and with Chicago weather you can't afford to have drier hands, so I use gloves. Note: Always buy the "Food Grade DE"

First time around, all I put in my nest box was pine shavings and straw. What I found was the hens like to scratch and arrange the nesting material. Sometimes they just end up kicking it all out of the box. The problem with that is the egg ends up dropping on hard wood or they decide to lay somewhere else. So the boxes either need a lip to hold all the shavings in or you can just get a nest pad like I did.

They can scratch all they want but the pad stays in place and the eggs don't hit the hard wood. It's also easy to clean, just hose it off. It's kind of prickly but my hens love it and my eggs are very clean.

I did test it out by putting a gray nest pad in only one box and not the other. The hens used the box with the fancy nest pad. Then I added another plastic nest pad in the other box and they are now using both boxes. So I guess I can assume they like it.

I notice that before they lay they like to arrange the pine shavings in all the right places, so I do throw a handful of the shavings on top of the nest pad.

When the gals hit 5 months I added the golf ball for inspiration. It supposedly makes them think, "hey if some other chicken laid their egg there it must be a good place to put my egg too". Now it's my lucky false egg so I don't move it.

They started laying eggs December 28, 2013 and now lay a total of 10 -12 eggs a week on average. One week I got 14! Every egg, except the first egg, has been found in the egg boxes.

Every egg laid is a gift and the fact that they actually use the egg boxes amazes me every time.

Check out my gallery of egg pics, to me every egg is a masterpiece of nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment