March 15, 2019

Nests and Nesting Materials

Why is it, we want to try new things, when the old things are working quite well??? 
I am telling myself it is OKAY; as long as I only try one new thing at a time!
So, I am experimenting with a new liner for my nests, and keeping the same nesting materials.
I have been satisfied with squares of paper towel or coffee filters taped into the nests.
This year I tried something new:  disposable nursing pads. 
They seem to be about the right size and have two adhesive strips to keep them in the plastic nests.
(I did search for the largest size available.)
Left: nursing pad
Right: paper towel, folded four times, taped at edge
I have not yet put a nest with the nursing pad in with a hen, so we will see how well it works.  The one disadvantage I can think of is that I may miss the masking tape on the edge of the nest.  It is so easy to simply tear off the tape with the paper towel:  the nest is clean and ready to use again.

I am also filling baggies with homemade nesting material.... a good job to be done while watching television.  Yes, I did buy several bags of jute material specially made for nesting.
I still sit for hours, to cut and unravel cotton yard!
And if I do brag myself up, I can tear strips of just the right size from a sheet of paper towel!

 I do have a method behind my madness.  Here is WHY:
  • I like to mix materials.
    WHY?  I think it makes them work a bit harder to weave them altogether well, thus giving them an extra day to build before egg-laying begins.  Just seems to work that way.
  • I start out with larger, bulkier pieces, such as the jute strings and the strips of paper towel.  I've seen hens tearing the paper towel strips into smaller pieces.
  • When the hen has built a little base of the jute/towel, sort of a ring in the nest,
    I will give her the various sizes of cotton yarn;  some pieces left whole, others with the strands partially separated.  I also tear apart cosmetic cotton balls.
    WHY?  This is used as a more dense, also smoother, inner layer.  I've seen hens sitting in the nest, and really arranging this final layer with their feet!  It makes a good tight nest, and no eggs are lost among loose materials.
  • I like to portion them out to the hens once or twice a day.
    WHY?  For me, a hen that has a huge pile of materials available, seems to think she has to use it all quickly before some other hen takes it! 
    Giving unlimited material MAY encourage hasty nest building.
    I don't like huge nests, overflowing the nest.
These are just my observations.  I have not proven them... just my thoughts.  I have only used the jute for the past two years, and my hens are not crazy about it.  I have seen great nests built entirely from the paper towel, or newspaper/paper towel combination.... of course with the cotton as a final layer.
Each hen has a preference:  some hens prefer only the cotton yarn.

LEFT:  I also had great success with circles of fleece sewn into a wire nest.
Maybe, with that extra layer, the hen found it easier to get her pieces tucked in?  Maybe, her pieces stayed in place when she added later pieces?