Nest cam

Nest cam

We decided not to turn
on the light in the coop this winter
since our hens aren’t
even a year old and were laying prolifically at the end of
September.  However, we started noticing a decline in
October, which begged the question — is everyone just slowing
down due to shorter days, or is one of our breeds not pulling its
weight?  This question is relevant because we hatch our own
chicks and are trying new breeds, so a dud breed shouldn’t be used
for hatching eggs next spring.

Camera in the coop

Enter the nest
cam!  This game
sees a lot of uses on the homestead, especially since
Mark mounted it on a three-foot U-post, so it’s easy to move from
spot to spot.  We bought it to find
out where deer were getting past our defenses
, other
homesteaders have used similar cameras to catch predators
entering the chicken coop
, and now it’s been reborn as a
nest-monitoring tool.

No nest vacancies

chicken-breeders use trap nests for this purpose — devices that
let a hen in, but not out.  When using a trap nest, you get
great data because you can be certain which individual bird laid
an egg, but you have to run to the coop every fifteen minutes or
so to let the hen back out.  I figured the nest cam would
answer my question well enough — perhaps not telling me about
the laying habits of individual birds, but letting me get an idea
for which breeds were producing the most eggs.  For example,
the photo above shows a Leghorn in the nest box on the left and a
Star getting ready to go into the less-favored nest box on the

Black hens

Some eggs had already
been laid by the time I started my experiment October 18, but I
still got some data:

  • 9:25 am — A Leghorn was in box 1 and a Star was in box 2
  • 9:40 am — Probably the same Leghorn was in box 1 and an
    Australorp was in box 2
  • 10:02 am — An Australorp was in box 1
  • 10:26 am — Probably the same Australorp was in box 1 and
    another Australorp was in box 2
  • 10:56 am — An Australorp in box 2
  • 11:36 am — An Australorp in box 2
  • 12:58 am — A Star was in box 2 (but probably didn’t lay
    because she only stayed there for a minute)
Eggs in a nest box

Nest eggInterestingly, despite all the activity, box
2 seems to have just been a waiting box since only one egg showed
up there!  In contrast, the main box had 2 Leghorn eggs and 5
brown eggs (either Australorp or Star).  We currently have 3
Leghorns, 2 Stars, and 5 Australorps in that coop (with one more
Star and Australorp in the tractor).

I can’t tell who laid
what yet because the camera wasn’t in there from the beginning,
but I’ll post a followup next week once I have some more solid
data.  Stay tuned!

Keep your chickens
laying at their peak with an
chicken waterer

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