Chicken nesting boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and almost anything can be used as a nest box, from a bucket, to an old crate, to a storage box. The aim is to have a dry, clean and relatively dark (private) area where your hens can lay their eggs and feel comfortable doing so.
Here are some of the basics for providing good nesting boxes:
- Provide one nesting box for every 2-4 hens. (And be prepared for them all to line up waiting for the "favourite" box anyway )
- Size: Nest boxes should be big enough for your hen to stand in comfortably. Usually 12 x 12 x 12 inches is adequate, but building bigger is usually a good idea.
- Fill the box with suitable nesting material to prevent egg breakages: Many people use either wood shavings (pine usually) or straw. Shredded paper and dry grass works well in a pinch too. We personally suggest dry wood shavings over straw.
- Often a roost bar or step is added in front of the box to give the hen a place to jump to before entering the nest box. Also a "lip" is added to the front of the nesting box to keep the bedding material and/or eggs from being pushed or scratched out.
- Add a sloped top: You don't want your chickens to roost (sleep) on top of their nesting boxes (that would cause a big mess). We suggest angling the top of the nest box to disuade hens from being able to roost on or above the nest boxes.
- Most people like to raise their nest boxes up off the ground. Just make sure they aren't too high that the hens have a hard time accessing them and that they aren't higher than the roosts, or you'll have hens sleeping inside the nest boxes instead.
- To "show" the hens where you'd like them to lay their eggs, you can place gold balls or fake eggs in the boxes as decoys.
Here are some examples of chicken nesting boxes (Submitted by our chicken forum community).
Further recommended reading: