Nesting boxes for backyard chickens can be placed inside a chicken coop or as stand alone nesting box units if you don’t have a backyard chicken coop. Nesting boxes are not necessary for the chickens, but they provide easy egg gathering and they save time looking for eggs laid free range here and there. Click here to purchase nesting boxes for your chickens.
Nesting boxes should be off the ground enough to deter predators but low enough for the chickens to get in them easily and for them to be cleaned easily. Nesting boxes can be made of wood, metal or plastic. They can be made easily or existing items can be used to make a nesting box.
Each nesting box should be big enough that a hen can stand up comfortably. Depending on the breed of your backyard chickens, a 12″x12″x12″ nesting box should do just fine. Remember that you do not need a nesting box for each hen, because they don’t all lay at the same time. However, it is common for more than one hen to use a single nesting box.
Nesting Boxes In A Backyard Chicken Coop
Nesting boxes in a backyard chicken coop or a mobile backyard chicken coop should be in the darkest part of the coop. They should be in a clean, dry and dark place. Nesting boxes should have nesting material of hay or straw, wood shavings or saw dust. Hens typically like nesting boxes with more bedding rather than less.
Nesting boxes should be off the floor far enough to deter predators but not too high that the chicken cannot enter easily. Bedding will need to be changed often in the nesting boxes as well. Dirty nesting box bedding is excellent composting material.
Nesting boxes can include a roosting bar across the front, which can be used as a lip on the front of the boxes as well. A lip on the front of the nesting boxes will keep bedding and eggs in the nest as the hens get in and out of the box. This also provides the hens not laying that day a place to roost.
Nesting Boxes That Stand Alone
Nesting boxes for backyard chickens that stand alone should be off the ground enough to deter predators but not too high for the hens to get in and out of them. The top of these stand alone nesting boxes should be sloped enough that the chickens will not want to roost on the top or worse, lay eggs on the top. The chickens need to be encouraged to use the inside of the nesting boxes. These nesting boxes work well with free range backyard chickens.
Bedding for the stand alone nesting boxes is the same as it is for nesting boxes in the chicken coop. These need to have a lip as well. These nesting boxes are easier to clean if the tops can open up or even come completely off. Make sure that your bedding doesn’t get moldy, it can make the chickens sick and is not good for the eggs.
Nesting boxes that stand alone should be screwed or bolted to the structure that they are leaning against or supported by. The nesting boxes can be in a garage, barn, shed or on the outside wall of any of these buildings.
Making A Nesting Box
Nesting boxes can be made of wood, plastic and metal. Plywood or wood nesting boxes are easily made and inexpensive but not very easy to keep clean. The wood can soak up the dirt and excrement. The nesting box shouldn’t be too deep that the hen cannot get in and out of the box easily. If using another item for a nesting box, part of the side may have to be cut away for the hens access.
Plastic nesting boxes clean very easily, but in the cold winter months they can crack. Some backyard chicken owners use cat litter boxes with or without the lids, 5 gallon buckets turned on their side, milk crates or pet carriers for nesting boxes.
Metal nesting boxes can also be cleaned easily but they hold the heat and the cold. More bedding may be required in the winter. Backyard chicken owners can use metal buckets on their side, 5 gallon popcorn tins on their sides, metal wash basins and metal automatic gravity fed dog feeders for nesting boxes.