Pictures Of Chicken Nesting Boxes - How To Build A Nest Box

The chicken nesting box is where your hen will do her most important work, so make sure it's a place in which she'll feel comfortable.
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated May 16, 2016 · ·
  1. BYC Support

    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).

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    30865_nesting_boxes_and_chickens_001.jpg 35011_dscn0969.jpg

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Max0815
    "Perfect for a standard nesting box"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 21, 2019
    Very good criteria, and tips to build a nesting box. I figured that I must be doing something wrong with my birds. Very useful!
  2. JerryR708
    "Nice Build Article-Just what I needed"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 13, 2019
    I've been using large clay flower pots for 2 years. I need to build them proper nest boxes. Thanks for sharing.
  3. Clubber1234
    "Fabulous article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 18, 2018
    I've always wanted my hens to lay in the nesting box:love they lay in a corner instead:lau


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  1. Josie670
    These photos are giving me great ideas, thank you! I love the little curtains
      jhershy likes this.
  2. Cathy Roberts
    Is it necessary to have curtains for the nesting boxes? My husband doesn't think so and I just don't know.
    1. Grwldog
      I know this is a late reply, But its not needed for curtains.
      amh619 likes this.
  3. madisonjh95
    We didn't add curtains to our nesting box. Why do you add curtains? just curious. I see that all the time and I always wonder what the purpose is.
      Cathy Roberts likes this.
  4. Corys chickens
    My chickens lay their eggs in the corner in the sand
      TLHloveschicks and Cathy Roberts like this.
  5. nightowl223
    And then... your chickens will pick their own favorite place, which may not be anything like your idea of a favorite place. They're usually not very picky, though... as long as it's relatively quiet and relatively dark, they'll be happy with it. You can decorate it all you want, but if it doesn't meet those two requirements, they will find somewhere else, like a flower bed or a haybarn or a doghouse, to deposit their gifts.
      Cathy Roberts and cyndalrash like this.
  6. sassy dallas chickens
  7. PastaChickenBoo
    We use large flower pots as nest boxes. They're filled mostly with potting soil and topped with a nesting box liner. There's a cardboard panel for privacy. The chickens love it.
      Cathy Roberts likes this.
  8. wonderchick22
    totes adorbs thank you for this idea
  9. wonderchick22
    This is so cute :jumpy
      Cathy Roberts likes this.
  10. Littlefaceza
    The curtains are adorable!!!! Nice touch ;-)
  11. Chullicken
    The whole ideology of nesting boxes kind of intrigues me. How many of us have noticed we have all these nesting boxes, but they only use one? I've used boxes for years and after years and countless hours of research I find myself using one compartment now. What I mean by compartment is throwing out that whole idea of having nest boxes and replacing that with one, long rectangle are much the same as having boxes without the partitions. It has it's own opening within my coop, is dark with an insulated floor simply attached to the side of the structure with a side mounted clean out door. This way they are free to roam in and do what they do, plus I don't have to scan each separate box for eggs and it's much easier to clean out with this method. Also you notice if a hen is able to fully stand in a nest box, she is able to poop in it. I no longer give them the head room to walk in leisurely by simply reducing the head space just a few inches. They are able to move freely with little to no inconvenience and lay their eggs. I've noticed a drop in fecal matter within the box. One pass with my mini coop rake and it's neat and tidy.
    1. punatiquemama
      what is a mini coop rake?
    2. nightowl223
      @punatiquemama, I use a child's toy metal rake with a wooden handle, that I found at the hardware store. I don't know if that's what Chullicken uses, but I like mine. I've even got a mini-shovel from the same display that I use a lot in my gardening, too.
      Cathy Roberts, Donna61 and Chullicken like this.
  12. Charlieharper1990
    Will 4 hens lay in the same 5 gallon bucket or do I need 1 bucket for each hen. Thank you charlie
      Cathy Roberts and Chullicken like this.
    1. Chullicken
      More than likely they'll all use one nesting box, maybe two if that one is occupied. I do mean 'occupied' as in three of them are using it at the same time. One should suffice. You may even consider using a nesting area instead, adds more room, easier to clean and it allows them all to come and go freely with adequate room.
  13. Arnettalynn67
    when do u put up their roosting chicks are 7an 8 week olds
      Bettyboop7499 likes this.
    1. Chullicken
      Much much easier to already have them incorporated into your coop prior to adding birds. Just makes life easier. Depending on breed, they will start laying from roughly 24 weeks on.
      Cathy Roberts and nightowl223 like this.
  14. Frutfarm
    I love the curtains for the nest boxes! That would be such a fun addition to our coop!
    1. pamonarch
      lol..i have camo curtains in my girl's nesting boxes...only one has been going in one nest so far..mine are only 20 weeks old. I have 3 red stars and two of them are doing the laying so far. almost one everyday for over a week now. :) I also made a large nesting box from a long tote with a of my red stars was in there this morning cackling loudly..but no egg yet...must be just trying it out..LOL!!
  15. Fluttering-about
    Wow! Thanks so much for the photos! This is exactly what I needed to solve my, "where to put, and how to design nesting boxes". I have been looking through posts for ages.... all I needed was to come across this post first!!! :wee
      Bettyboop7499, Chullicken and HarleyQ like this.
  16. harmesonfarm
    Great Info, Thanks for sharing! :)
  17. NapaChicknGal
    I just got a larger coop and can't get hens in there and there is a ladder and 2 perches and 4 nesting boxes. Two young pullets I got are hangin' out in nesting box at nite and I try to place on perch and they're skittish. Any ideas? thnx
    1. Fluttering-about
      My girls slept in the nesting boxes for ages. Once they were about 5 months I put them on the roost, (perch), but at night. I guess chickens can't see at night. So they would stay there. I did this for about 3 nights, and they figured out that that is where they sleep.
      Good luck!
      Rommy and nightowl223 like this.
    2. Fluttering-about
      My girls slept in the nesting boxes for ages. Once they were about 5 months I put them on the roost, (perch), but at night. I guess chickens can't see at night. So they would stay there. I did this for about 3 nights, and they figured out that that is where they sleep.
      Good luck!
  18. traytray01
    hi i have 6 chickens 1 amber 1 columbine 1 blue 1 pied suffolk 1 columbine ranger black tail and 1 ranger.we had them 2 weeks the first 2 nights i had to put them in the coop and on there roost bars but night 3 they went to roost on there own but then a few days later i found that none of them were on the roost bars they are in the 2 nest boxes and huddled together in the corner i cant move the nest boxes as it was a shop bought coup and run we removed the run as no way could you keep them in something that small it would be mean so we built them a big run and put there house in that. after a week we got are first egg and have had a egg nearly every day from one of them but as for them sleeping in the nest boxes i havent been able to stop them so as you can gess its a bit of a mess i have to clean the boxes first thing to make them clean be for ho ever is laying gos and lays and so far its never realy the same sort of time . this is the first time we have ever had chickens so its all very new to us so any help is or advice is very welcome many thanks
      SurferchickinSB likes this.
  19. Nutcase
    Quite helpful! thanks for posting!
    For my nesting boxes i just cut the top half of the side of a bucket off. You leave the back, and the bottom half of the sides. It makes a U shape. It is pretty inexpensive too, plus saves you a lot of time because it is quick to make. Then you can mount it on the wall.And can put wood shaving or whatever in as a little bedding.
    Or you can use 18 gallon totes and cut out a square for them to walk in. Then you can hook it to a board and set that up on some cinder blocks,
    Dont know if anybody already posted these ideas or not, but thought I would throw some more ideas out there.
      Jrvautour and HarleyQ like this.
  21. Mpracey
    One of my Roosters - the guy in pic- likes to sleep in the nest box. I caught him on an egg one morning. He likes to snuzzle in the hey!
    So, I had to make extra box for him.
    1. bugzziee
      that's funny
      Bettyboop7499 likes this.
    2. Chullicken
      Some roosters that have extremely high maternal instincts will actually keep eggs warm while the broody hen goes out and odes 'errands'.
    3. adgcountrygirl
      My oldest rooster (in my profile pic) used to go into the favorite nest boxes after I put in fresh material and hollow them out. After he was done with each nest, he would call the hens in a similar fashion to the call for finding treats. Then, he would leave the coop and dance for any of the hens that were still outside the coop. Such a romantic! These days, he has retired to his own coop where he keeps company with my oldest hen. They have been together all their lives. They are seven right now. I'm afraid how bad one will take it if the other goes first. (Yes, I've seen hens mourn the loss of a rooster.)
  22. bubblehead
    I had tried cat litter pails cut diagonally (two boxes out of one pail) and attached to the rear wall. built a 2 inch lip on the front. my hens just scratch out the pine shavings and straw and lay on the coop floor! Unfortunately this leads to the occasional damage egg.
    I'm constructing a new coop for the winter and plan on adding exterior coop boxes. Hopefully I can retrain the girls.
      Arnettalynn67 likes this.
  23. hoangduyanh
  24. Davien
    Iamelde, put the pics of my nesting boxes on my profile.....
  25. CrazyChookz
    Im making a new coop, and am using an old recycled fish market container to make a recycled nest box. Is this okay?
      Chullicken likes this.
    1. Chullicken
      They will lay in almost anything provided, even the floor of your coop, bushes, etc. The nesting box issue is very over thought out in my opinion. As long as they feel secure, they'll lay. Good luck.
      Cathy Roberts and nightowl223 like this.
  26. ToddExline
    How long should I leave a golf ball in the nest. Once my hens started to lay I removed it, the next day I found an egg in the middle of the coop floor and one in the corner under their roosting spot all around the poo. I put the golf ball back and shazam...eggs in the nest.
    1. nightowl223
      Occasionally, the spot in the nest box they want is occupied, so they will choose to lay elsewhere - in places you don't want, of course. It's just something that happens.
  27. Chicken Techie
    my red stars started laying at 15 weeks, really early i know, at the time i still had their nesting boxes closed off, had to open then up right away, got two eggs that day then the next day three, two days later 4 and it just escalated from there, there are about 23 weeks now and im getting 9 to 11 eggs per day from 12 red stars, mine are a special case since they did start so early but i was told from alot of people to allow access to the nesting boxes at 20 weeks.
    I do have somewhat of a related question, does anyone know when Cayuga ducks start to lay? thanks
  28. momgoose
    I use 5 gallon plastic planters and lay them on their sides-the kind of planters roses etc. are sold in. I made a barrier for the lower front of them (so eggs don't roll out) by sliding a 1x4 in front of them. They are portable, easy to clean and disinfect, naturally 'tilt' back toward the narrower end of the pot, and have the drain holes in the bottoms that let a little ventilation in. The hens love them! They are round and relatively slippery so that discourages 'roosting' on them. They were just temporary, but they work so well, I'm thinking of incorporating them into the new henhouse I build this fall. I have 6 hens and they all share two of these 'nest boxes'.
  29. clucky3255
    i have five grown hens and 7 pullets..... and a total of 7 nest boxes.. is that anough?
      Chullicken likes this.
    1. Chullicken
      Probably way more than they will actually use for laying eggs in. Keep peeking in on them and I bet you'll notice they've almost always will use one or two. The rest will just sit there looking pretty. -)
      adgcountrygirl and nightowl223 like this.
  30. lamelde
    Davien - can we see a picture?
  31. lamelde
  32. Davien
    I bought at Wal-mart four of their large storage bins with lids, that have a cut out area in the front like the kids cubbies at school. Heavy plastic, very easy wash and clean, stacked two on the floor, two on top of each a built stairs and a ramp for the top ones. My girls love them and rotate to what ever is their fancy for the day...
      nightowl223 likes this.
  33. aceintoledo
    I have six hens and two nesting boxes but they only use one and they use the same one all the time, what's up with that?
    1. nightowl223
      That's perfectly normal chicken behaviour, I'm afraid, LOL! :-D
      Cathy Roberts likes this.
  34. Nancyann67
    I have 2 coops they prefer to lay in the coop
    That had straw verses pine shavings. Birds with options. Lol
  35. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
      Bettyboop7499 likes this.
  36. AliciaV
    Mine is about 7 inches of the ground the chickens get in great
      SD Chicken Wrangler15 likes this.
  37. richicken
    i built a coop but waited to build the nesting boxs,well now my girls are laying and i need some ideas (plans) to build the nesting boxs that can attach to the outside of the coop .please give me some ideas (help) thanks
  38. Troy6671
    Excellent information. I use 5 gallon buckets attached to the wall of the hen house (with plastic fronts with holes for the hens to go in). Very inexpensive.
  39. ELLY1
    Hi I use plastic cat cages, I just removed the lids, easy to clean and if I need to take them to the vets I just put the lid back on.
  40. MsBagawkbagawk
    I really want to steal some nesting boxes where the eggs roll out the back from my great grandparent's old egg business. Supposedly there is 400 boxes up there...
      Bettyboop7499 likes this.
  41. mike23
    "...try putting up wire in front of the boxes at night for a few weeks" excellent tip! im going to try this because my pullets are sleeping in, and messing up, the boxes.
  42. allygb99
    i have 2 chickens. and 2 nestin boxes, but they are layin there eggs on the ground! why?
      Chullicken likes this.
    1. Chullicken
      It boils down to how secure they feel with a particular area. If they get disturbed while laying, drafty, to bright, etc. Do you need curtains? No..Try putting some sand in there, closing up any drafts if you have them and placing a fake egg in there for a week or two.
  43. diychickencoops
    Great job illustrating this concept for us, good photos too!
  44. ladyalia
    The white nesting boxes remind me of a small set of book shelves...I'm wondering if you could convert book shelves into nesting boxes?!?
    1. ArihTheMagical
      actually I had a friend do that, but she nailed some more boards to it before she actually used it
  45. funnychick
    I have an opportunity to get some nesting boxes from a friend. They are made out of tin. Her Dad made them years ago. I havent heard of them made of tin before. Do you think this would be ok??
      Chullicken likes this.
    1. Chullicken
      I live in a cold climate half of the year so I avoid metal anything inside my coop. Not saying there is anything wrong, just don't want the change of having that metal suck heat out of my girls. Metal however is easy to sanitize, last a long time, light weight and durable. Almost always used in large scale egg operations.
  46. CSisley
    Yukonchick - I would say between five and six months sometimes longer depending on the breed. I don't have Red sussex but I have Speckled Sussex and they started laying at about 5 months.
  47. Yukonchick
    I'm getting 12 Red sussex chicks. Anyone know how old they will be when they lay their first egg. Raised some hens years ago but can't remember .
  48. snowangel
    I am getting 20 chicks is a 6x8 going to be big enough for them?
    1. Chullicken
      6x8 coop? Are they going to be pastured or free ranging?
  49. charliechick
    how do i build nest box for my 2 hens
    1. Chullicken
      There is a plethora of plans and videos on YouTube.
  50. kiwiegg
    This is a great resource. I am getting 16 Gold Stars (red sex links?) and I'm planning on copying the pic at the top (6 nests, 2 stacks of 3) Can someone with chooks confrim if the first nest 18" off floor is Ok....I want to build them today!!!

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