Nesting box curtains have been around for a very long time, in the past many farmers would hang burlap or feed bags over the front of their hens’ boxes. The curtains can serve several important functions in your coop.
They provide a more private, secluded spot for your chickens to lay their eggs. Chickens naturally gravitate to a dark spot where predators won’t find the eggs. They can also encourage a broody for the same reason; you’re providing a safe, hidden spot to sit on her eggs and hatch chicks. And even better, curtains can help discourage multiple broodies, since the instinct to go broody is often triggered by seeing another hen sitting on a nest. Blocking the view of one broody prevents the hormone to sit being aroused in other hens.
Curtains can help prevent egg eating by the hens. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ prevents others from passing by and spying a tempting egg. They can also help prevent vent pecking, a rare, albeit serious, occurrence, whereby other hens will be attracted to a laying hen’s extended reddened vent as she lays her egg and peck at it, sometimes leading to death, if not serious injury.
Curtains help retain heat in the nesting boxes helping both to prevent cracked or frozen chicken eggs and to retain a broody’s body heat if she’s setting eggs in the colder months, thereby making it easier for her to keep the eggs (and eventually the chicks) warm.
If you decide to hang some curtains in your coop over your nesting boxes, here are some tips:
- Use a natural (i.e. cotton, wool, burlap, muslin) fabric in case your chickens get the urge to try and eat them.
- Be sure the fabric won’t ravel or shed strings that can get caught in the crop and lead to impaction or choking. The best bedding for chickens in this case, is a non-dusty choice, such as straw that will keep your curtains cleaner than using shavings (or sawdust or sand which should not be used in a coop as bedding anyway).
- Sew, staple, hang a curtain rod …. there are lots of ways to construct and hang your curtains. Start by hanging curtains over just a few boxes to let your chickens get used to them slowly.
- Shop for old sheets, and curtains at thrift shops. That way when you must replace them it won’t be very expensive