I'm about to build the quarters for my first flock of chickens and want to ask about nesting boxes. I've seen quite a bit on the Internet about 5-gallon plastic buckets as nesting boxes. I can see several advantages -- durability, ease of fabrication, and ease of cleaning, but I'd like to ask whether the chickens actually like them and lay eggs in them. Has anyone given chickens a choice between buckets and conventional wooden-box type boxes and observed what they prefer? (I'm considering building them a couple of wooden nest boxes but giving them a few others made from buckets.)
Are the dimensions right for both large and small chickens? (Nearly all 5-gallon plastic buckets are about 11 1/2" in diameter and 14-16" deep.)?
What about orientation? All the pictures I've seen show the buckets with the wider top opening as the entrance for the chicken, (with something across the bottom to hold in bedding). I am planning to make my nest boxes accessible (for egg collecting, etc.) from outside the chicken enclosure, so I'm thinking it would make more sense to cut an opening in the *bottom* of the bucket as the chicken's entryway, with some kind of open-able door on the other end. That way the bucket would taper to larger inwards.
Color -- most of the buckets I have are white, but I also have a few green, orange and black ones. I've read that chickens like a dark, cave-like enclosure for nesting, so would a colored bucket be better? (BTW, most of my buckets were originally containers for various foods like pickles, yogurt, etc.)
What about kitty-liter buckets? I've seen pictures of these as nest boxes also. The rounded-rectangle shape seems good, but the dimensions at the top are just 91/4" x 111/4". Is that too small? Would they be better oriented with the longer dimension horizontal or vertical? I've also got some 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" square buckets about 15" deep -- would those be too narrow?
Friendly greetings to all,