Any Problem with Oversized Nesting Boxes? My Current Footprint?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by makemineirish, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. makemineirish

    makemineirish Out Of The Brooder

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    I am in the midst of designing the end-all-be-all of small/medium chicken coops. I am not trying to shirk my homework, but have a slightly odd question. Are there any problems to be had with providing oversized nesting boxes. My intention is to have 7-9 bantam chickens, but allow for the possibility that the current plan may not be the permanent one.

    The most useful information that have found list nesting box size requirements as such:
    12" wide x 14" high x 12" deep for "Leghorn-type layers"
    14" wide x 14" high x 14" deep for heavier breeds
    10" wide x 12" high x 10" deep for bantams

    The information is clear enough, but I was planning to do 14"x14"x14" nesting boxes. The logic was twofold. I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that roomier was better. Moreover, larger nesting boxes allowed for the possibility that I might change my mind at a later date and prefer standard sized chickens.

    The current design would still be appropriate. Here is the question: are there any problems with providing too MUCH space in a nesting box? As to the coop: I like to overbuild things, My current footprint entails a 6' square interior coop with a floor that is 18" off the ground and a pitched roof from 3.25' above the "floor" (not ground) at the edges to 4.25' in the center. EIGHT 14" cube exterior next boxes will be stacked in double rows from the floor to the roof edge.

    Not including the nest boxes, there will be 36 sqft of area within the enclosed hen house. The attached run is 12'l x6'w x5.75'h. There is an additional 6'l x 6'w x 1.5'h space underneath the henhouse. This gives a total square footage of 108 square feet of solidly- roofed, predator-proof surface area.

    There will be WAY more the 12" of roost space per chicken. I intend to add a chicken "tunnel" of sorts that is 3'w x 2' h along the perimeter of the yard with an indeterminate length. I will start with 5' and continue to add length to it as time allows. Eventually, it may encircle the yard: adding 3 square feet for each linear foot of tunnel. This addition will be constructed of hardware cloth in which the top is enclosed.

    I understand that free-ranging may not be advisably with flight-capable bantams in an urban yard. This seemed like a good compromise. The tunnel would not be predator-proof, but merely for daytime exploration. Any concerns thus far?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  2. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I don't see a problem with oversized nesting boxes. As long as they are dark and quiet, they won't mind.

    My first nesting boxes were huge. They loved them. Some people even do one BIG nesting box for all of their chickens. It's called a communal nesting box.
     
  3. makemineirish

    makemineirish Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Thanks for the input. I love to over-build, but did not want to shoot myself in the foot due to a lack of understanding chicken comfort.
     
  4. Izzymoon

    Izzymoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    The problem I heard is they get TOO comfy in there and just sleep vs. lay eggs. Mine are just right, where their tails are a bit of a squeeze. The fronts are smaller for privacy and then the door to the outside. They use all 3 boxes and my middle box is slightly bigger than the 2 sides. They seem to lay in the smaller boxes, but have found eggs in the middle too
     
  5. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    That's not usually an issue after they are a bit older. Only problem I see is roosting on the nesting box edges. Only broodies sleep in the nests with my birds. Even my young girls don't bother with the nesting boxes.

    There is nothing wrong with small, but there is nothing wrong with big either :)
     
  6. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Springfield Missouri
    A cat litter bucket is the perfect size for bantams. You could build them 14 x 14 x 14, then place a bucket in each as long as you are raising bantams, then take them out if you change or mix. Sounds like you're building more nest boxes than you need for the size coop you're building. They'll share, even if they have private ones available. You need about one for every 4 or 5 birds.
     
  7. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Or for a cheaper option, those dish pans are great. The white ones you get at the dollar store :)
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    The size of the nesting box has nothing to do with them sleeping in it. There are different things that can cause them to sleep in the nesting box, usually the height of the roost is too low or a bully on the roost is so brutal the weaker ones seek a safer place to sleep, but size is not a criteria for that. At night, they often really like to squeeze up real tight.

    A see no real concerns with what you plan, other than the expense of building your tunnel. Your tunnel sounds like the “garden moat" style of run.

    My nests are generally 16" x 16" x 16" for full sized fowl. They sometimes like to crowd into a nest to lay, even though there are empty nests available. I've had three hens at a time in my nests. I've also read posts on here where a hen actually layed on top of another hen in a tight nest box. I think a 14" x 14" will work great.

    I've had full sized hens use a nest that had a 6" high x 8" wide opening. Those openings don't really need to be big, though an 8" high also works great. It's personal preference. I like a smaller opening to keep the nest a little darker. But Dad used nests that had no top at all. The nests just had sides, a back, and a front, all the same height. The chickens generally don't care nearly as much as we do.

    In your design, make sure you have a pretty good lip across the opening to keep the bedding and eggs in. Most hens scratch around the nest before they lay to get the bedding just right. They can scratch out the bedding and any fake or real eggs in there. Many people are successful with smaller lips but I use about a 5" high lip. I too like to overbuild.

    Don't over concern yourself with chicken "comfort". They need food, water, protection from the elements, and protection from predators. Anything beyond that is personal preference. They really don't care. But I do strongly recommend giving them as much space as you can, whether in the coop, in the run, or on the roosts. The more space you give them, the less likely you are to have behavioral problems, the less hard you have to work, and the more flexibility you have when you run into situations.

    Good luck. Sounds great so far.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2012
    Springfield Missouri
    If you or a neighbor has cats, cat litter buckets are better than cheap, they're free!
     
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Oh I see what you are talking about now, I thought you meant litter PANS, not the containers that hold litter! Great idea!
     

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