My chickens keep finding new nooks to lay eggs and I'm wondering if this is normal and healthy or if I should be worried and taking some kind of action. They were laying almost all eggs in one spot for quite awhile but lately that's changed. The change has coincided with an onset of colder temperatures so maybe it's simply that they are trying to find the warmest spot. I dunno...
I figure that it's healthy but just wanted to check to be sure. There have been a couple of times that they layed (laid?) in areas that I couldn't find for a week or so but other than that the spots are easy to see.
This is very normal for chickens. They like to make their own spots. The challenge for caretakers is to make the nest box the safest most attractive place for the maternal instincts of the hen. If you have a large flock, often the hens on the low end of the pecking order will also prefer to find their own place rather than fighting for time/access to nesting area.
I have had wild chickens from my neighbors place come and make nest in the strangest of places, even though he provided food and shelter for them. They preferred to live in the trees and brood under my carport on the ground!
As someone mentioned above, one way to encourage hens to lay where you want is to use a decoy egg. However, I would use a ceramic egg instead of leaving a real egg. Certainly mark it if you do, so you don't eat a bad egg. But also if the egg breaks the hens can learn that eggs are good to eat. (yes, they can and do turn cannibalistic on occasion.)
If all else fails and you have a stubborn hen whom does not like your particular taste in nest boxes, make her one of her own where she frequents. If she will still does her own thing, she may be too 'broody' for a laying hen and need be culled from the other layers.