Slow down dinner #1
I have a large slow cooker so if your one is small, you may need to adjust quantities to suit the size of your vessel. The lemon flavour is quite strong so if you are not a fan of lemon, just use a quarter.
What does a hen look for in a nest? Its height from the ground? Whether it’s safe from predators? Its shape, the lining material, the seclusion from the flock, or something else?
As the collector of the eggs, what do you want in a nest? Ideally, it should be easy to access without too much bending or crawling, somewhere that is easy to keep manure and mite-free, somewhere that keeps the eggs safe, clean and unbroken.
To comply with all the needs both of the hen laying the egg and you as the egg collector, we need to look at quite a number of factors and sometimes reach a compromise between both hen and human. The welfare code recommends a minimum of one nest to seven hens or 1m² of colony nest for 120 hens. But these are minimum standards and you’ll find it’s better to have at most 4-5 hens to one nest.
However, if you only have 4-5 hens, it is better to have at least two nests so that they have a choice, even if they all choose to lay in the same nest – more on that later.
2Sizefloor space below for bird movement, while also giving some protection to the bird and her eggs from predators like hedgehogs and rats.
Hens like a perch rail set out in front so that they can walk along to view the nests before they decide which one to use. If you have this perch on hinges, it can do double duty and be folded up to block the nest entrance so birds can’t get into the habit of sitting in a nest box at night. It’s good training when birds are young to discourage birds from sleeping in the nests or roosting on the nest lip with heads out and bums in at night. It prevents them fouling the nest, and can also help to prevent mite build-ups.
The nest opening preferably needs to face away from any opening like a window in the coop to prevent bright light from shining into the nest. Too much light encourages other birds to vent peck when another bird is laying.
If the design of your coop doesn’t work, hang strips of black plastic, old feed sacks or some kind of easily-replaceable dark material along the front of the nests like a curtain which will help provide seclusion.
what shape, colour and size of nest a hen prefers as it’s important in large barn and free range flocks whether the egg collection is mechanised or carried out by manual means (human backs must be taken into account).
What scientists discovered is that hens prefer nests to be low to the ground; the compromise is 50cm, a workable height for a bending human. Birds also prefer unpainted metallic or wooden nests over black, blue green, yellow or red.
Inside, they prefer a concave bottom so they can snuggle in. This can be achieved by ensuring there is a generous lip along the front of the nest box and filling it with plenty of litter which enables them to mould a bowl shape in the shavings. If they can get their head down level with the lip so they are almost hiding behind it, they feel more comfortable too.
The ideal access perch should be flat not rounded, preferably wooden or metal (not plastic) and measure 8cm wide and 2cm deep.
Trials on nest hole shape used triangular, square and round openings. Although round was found to be quite well liked by hens, the constraints of manufacture on a large scale posed problems, unless large disposable cardboard tubes in a frame were obtainable. Round plastic buckets with a lip or half lid across the front might meet with approval.