Building Coop - nesting box questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by irischick, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. irischick

    irischick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2013
    Hi everyone! Getting ready to build our first coop and have some design questions.

    1. We were thinking of raising the nesting boxes off the floor a tad. - Any comments - pros/cons? Heights off floor?
    2. We were thinking of putting a lip on the front of the box to keep nesting material in. Height of lip? Pros/Cons?
    3. Size of nesting box 12"w x !2"d x !4"h or larger? - regular size fowl.

    Thanks so much. This is so much fun!!! :)

  2. PoultryGirly

    PoultryGirly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2012
    Hi and welcome to BYC! All of your planning seems great so far.

    1. Yes, I would raise the nesting boxes maybe a foot or two off of the ground. You can make it taller, just make sure they can actually fly/hop/jump into them without troubles. Most folks raise their nest boxes up for one reason: so they don't have to bend over far to get to the eggs!

    2. We have a lip on our nesting boxes and it works out great. It is about 4 inches tall and 2 inches wide. It helps keep the coop bedding separated from the nest bedding and vice versa. It also helps from eggs rolling out of the nest box and getting crushed.

    3. The size of your nesting boxes sound fine. I bet 2 hens will go in there at once! They like to "fight" over the favorite nest box :) Also remember that the hens' feathers make them look bunches bigger than they actually are.

    Happy chickening! :D
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You’ll find we do a tremendous number of different things for nests. There are very few rules. We use buckets, cat litter boxes, entertainment centers, milk crates, dressers, and just about anything you can think of. Somebody even had a photo of using a kitchen sink. We build individual nests or community nest boxes. We put them on the coop floor or up higher. But to your specific questions.

    As mentioned some people put them up higher so they don’t have to bend over. Others have them lower for their own reasons. The main rule is that the nest boxes need to be lower than the roosts. Chickens like to roost on the highest thing they can get to and they poop a lot while on the roosts. You don’t want that mess on your eggs.

    If you put them on the floor, they might scratch trash in them, including poop. This depends on your design. If the sides are high enough, this won’t happen.

    If you put them up very high, it’s a good idea to put a perch or some sort of landing place in front of the nest to help them get in.

    If they are real close to the floor (and don’t forget the height of the bedding) mommy mouse can raise a family under there. Chickens eat mice so if you have enough room for chickens to get under there, mommy mouse will make her home elsewhere.

    You need enough room to check under the nests. It’s possible a chicken will decide to nest under the nests of it looks like a safe place to have a nest.

    If you have a broody hatch in there you may not want it too high off the floor. I’ve seen a broody get chicks to jump out of a 10’ high hay loft so I don’t worry about this too much, but some people do.

    The only rule on height of nests is lower than the roosts. Anything else is pure personal preference. The chickens generally don't care but people do.

    I like a 5” lip on the front, though a lot of people are real happy with a 3” lip. You do need a decent lip or they will scratch bedding and eggs out. If you make it too small and they scratch stuff out, go back and put a bigger lip on it.

    The normal recommendation on size is at least 12” x 12” x 12” but many of us use larger. Some of the things some people use are smaller but if you are building, I suggest you not go smaller than a 12” dimensions.

    I use a 16” x 16” x 16”. Sometimes they like to lay in the same nest at the same time. It’s pretty normal for me to see two in one nest at the same time and occasionally I see three in there.

    A rule of thumb is one nest box for every four hens. This is for fairly small flocks. If you plan on having 20 or more, you can drop that to one nest for five hens.
  4. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    +1 with the above advice. Thought that I would add a few pictures... every thread needs a few pics! [​IMG]

    Exterior boxes are very nice to have if you can make them. Saves alot of space and makes egg collection easy.

    My boxes are up about 16 to 18 inches... at easy hop up for the hens. 12x12x14 high.. 2x4 lip..... some boxes are a little bigger.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  5. franzman12

    franzman12 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 26, 2013
    Napoleon, Ohio
    Here are my nesting boxes

  6. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 10, 2012
    Loving, NM
    I'm a fan of the 5 gal bucket myself, mostly because they're free.

    These are roll-away nests. I only made them roll-aways because of limited room in the coop, not because of little peckers.
  7. DimondaleBergs

    DimondaleBergs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Thanks for asking all these great questions! I was just going to post a thread with the SAME questions! lol I'm so excited that we are at the final stages of the coop build!
  8. Qalupalik

    Qalupalik Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2013
    Ours are a few inches off the floor to allow for ventilation, but they're set on top of old wooden ties, so my only concern is that something might hide under there that we can't get at. Our lip is the same height as the sides, but there's no roof on our nesting boxes. They seem to like to "hide" in there, as far as I can tell. One, Speedy, pretends that I can't see her when I go in while she's nesting (she's an EXTREMELY flighty one). I like having our "lip" the same size, because none of the nesting material ever escapes, and they're always moving it around. Ours are 12x12x12, and it seems to fit one hen just nicely. Sometimes another one sits on top of the other hen, but one eventually moves over to another nesting box.

    All this learning and sharing is so fun! :D
  9. Qalupalik

    Qalupalik Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2013
    Of course I`ll have to eat my words because today when I went into the coop there were two nesting in the same box. [​IMG][​IMG]

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