As I've posted before, my chickens like to sleep in the nesting box that's built into our Eglu.
Since they're not laying eggs yet, I've never put any nesting material in there (pine shavings... all the better to compost with) to encourage them to spend time in the box. It seems they've just developed an affinity for sleeping off the roosting bars.
Having read you can put a golf ball in the nesting box to discourage time in the box, I tried to crowding the girls out by putting one of Argus's (our Great Dane) big chew balls in the box. It's about the size of a bowling ball, made of some indestructible polymer and has a nice big handle on it. It takes up maybe half the nesting box, and whenever I've peeked in to see if the girls are roosting on the bars instead of huddling in the box, I see they've wedged themselves into the remaining space next to the chew ball, bound and determined to enjoy that durn box.
Now that we're thisclose to time of lay, I've decided to break the girls of the nesting box habit by completely blocking access to it by way of a cylinder made of chicken wire (as seen on the right).
My first attempt hadn't been so much a cylinder as just a little basketball-sized sphere of chicken wire. When I saw how much room there was between the top of the wire and the inside of the Eglu ceiling, I had visions of the girls cramming themselves up in that space just to stay off the roosting bars. So, I ran the cylinder up to the ceiling in hopes they'll finally get accustomed to spending the night on the roosting bars and using the nesting box for, well, nesting long enough to lay an egg.
I wonder do other first-time chicken farmers go through this same "nope-not-gonna-roost" phase? or have I been blessed simply because my girls refused to practice perching in their brooder box?
Regardless, I'll be leaving the cylinder in the nesting box for at least ten days (arbitrary, I know, but seems like it's long enough for the girls to break a bad habit and start a good one.
Maybe if enough first-timers have this same roosting problem, the nice folks at Eglu could create a custom-fit module that blocks the box? In the mean time, I'm happy to share the instructions with anyone who'd like to create their own chicken wire cylinder.