If you are planning on getting hens so that you can have your own fresh eggs every day, you will need to build them some “nesting” (or “laying”) boxes. Hens like their privacy when they are doing their business, and they particularly appreciate a nice box to retreat to before laying an egg.
If you don’t supply them with a nice place to lay, they will simply drop that egg anywhere in their coop. This means you will most likely have poop covered eggs, and your hens will be more prone to begin eating their eggs- a terribly difficult habit to break.
You don’t need one nesting box for each hen. Actually, you really only need one box per 4-5 laying hens. I’ve occasionally noticed my hens neatly lined up, waiting their turn to use the box. It always seems that when one egg is deposited, others are soon to follow!
The box needs to be atleast 10″ square. It can really be made of anything: wood, cardboard, an egg crate, I’ve even seen people using gutted out t.v.’s or computer monitors.
However you build it, make sure it has a roof over it. When we first built ours it was just an open box- four walls, no roof. We quickly discovered that the hens will roost (or perch) on the sides of the box and poop all in it. And inevitably, the eggs would get pooped on too. A slanted roof is recommended, as it discourages the chickens from roosting up on top and droppings accumulating up there.
You will need to fill the box with some soft material. You can use wood shavings, grass clippings, hay, straw, shredded newspaper, or leaves. Hens like to scratch around and get comfortable before laying. Besides, if you don’t fill it with something soft, the egg will sometimes get cracked when the hen drops it onto a hard surface. Yes, I know from experience.
The box needs to have three tall sides, and one opening with a small wall to help keep the straw or whatever inside. The chickens will eventually scratch it all out, but this lip will help. You can see how we’ve done this in the photo above.
Sure, you could go out and buy some fancy deluxe nesting box costing you a pretty penny, or you can build a make-shift box like we have, out of materials you already have laying around your home. Your hens won’t care either way.
Do you have a neat idea for re-purposing something into a nesting box? I’d love to hear how some of you have made your own nesting boxes!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
4 thoughts on “How To Build A Nesting Box”
We use 5 gallon buckets we get from the school in the summer after they are done waxing the gym floors. We take off the handles and cut out a half moon and screw into the opening off the bucket. The bottom row of buckets are screwed onto a piece of wood for support but the rows above just cradle onto of the other buckets.
I made some nesting boxes last summer. My husband and I had gone to a larger town when they were having their clean up week and could put larger items on the curb to be picked up. We found 5 drawers with a curve cut out for the handles and some scrap pieces of wood. I was able to reuse the drawers for the nesting boxes. I made it so the drawers would fit snug into little “cubbies” to keep straw from falling out the sides. I also made a little step for the girls to get up there. We did leave the top flat just on the off chance we would have to add more boxes to it but we just scrape the poop off when it gets to be too much! When I need to clean the drawers just slide right out! Here are some photos!
Those are perfect!!! Great idea 🙂
We were given a little nesting box apartment set-up from a neighbor a while back…it has five nesting boxes all connected side by side. The whole thing is raised off the ground with little 4-inch feet, and wouldn’t you know that our hens NEVER lay in their boxes…they crawl underneath and lay under the boxes! Oh well, whatever works.