After a failed initial attempt, Paul started doing more research on how to get the chickens to not lay while they’re roosting.
This is tricky. The two chickens currently roost on this, butts out:
Generally speaking they get up with the sunrise (which keeps getting earlier and can be a real bitch on Saturdays). On random days, though, they will lay before the sun comes up. From the perch. And we aren’t always there to let them out right away (especially the mornings that I leave the house at 5 to coach and Paul either works overnight or has to be at the hospital really early). And that often leads to cannibalism.
So Paul found some perch designs online that were attached to a laying box. The idea is the chickens roost on the perch (so they can sleep without sitting in their own turds), and when they’re ready to lay, jump into the box, lay, jump out of the box, and go about their business.
New perch! Foolproof, right?
Day 1: Chickens are found facing outwards while sleeping and sticking their butts into the box (backwards from how they normally position themselves). In the morning, the box is full of turds. But no eggs.
Day 2: Chickens are facing their usual way, butts out. No eggs anywhere.
Day 3: Chickens are both found sleeping IN the laying box when we go to let them out. (One is crushed in front of the other…it is kind of impressive that they can both fit.) Later that day, one egg is on the ground of the coop, one in the penthouse.
What the crap.
Later on Day 3 I found an article explaining how the laying box should be on the other side of the coop from where the chickens roost, so there seems to be some debate on this issue. I sent it to Paul. He stressed about whether to take the box out.
Day 4: ONE (soft and broken) EGG FOUND IN THE BOX! UNEATEN! Minor success.
We’re giving it a few more days, see how it pans out. Maybe they’re just adjusting.