Can you have TOO many nest boxes??? New coop help!!!


10 Years
Dec 22, 2009
Asheville, NC
Hey everyone!
We are a week away from getting our first flock of chickens!! The babies will be coming this time next week!!
The coop is built and set up in our yard, and there are just a few minor things we have to complete in the few weeks the girls are still inside with us. But I'm concerned that our coop has too many nest boxes. There are 10 nest boxes (5 on either side), and I won't be having more than 15 chickens in the coop. I know this is a lot of boxes, but is there anything wrong with that? Will the hens sit in there if they're NOT laying eggs? What's the worst that could happen??
I dont think there is anything that could go wrong other then them sleeping in them and you having the extra mess to clean up. I know from expeience though that no matter how many how many nice, clean nest bokes you have they will all choose to lay in one or two
As long as your roosts are higher than the nesting boxes, you don't have the nesting boxes where they are taking up room on the floor in a tight coop, and the nesting boxes are not situated where the chickens fly into them when getting down from the roosts, I cannot come up with a big problem with having too many nests. They take more materials to build and take up construction time, but it sounds like you are already past that. If you have mites, especially roost mites, you have a bigger area to clean and disinfect, plus need more new nesting material when you change it out. It takes a bit more time to look in 10 nests than 4 or 5, but not that much more time. Depending on how you have them mounted, they may be an obstruction when you are cleaning the coop.

If you plan on having broodies hatch chicks, you migth consider switching some to a place to isolate a broody while she is hatching. Here is a photo of what I did (two nests for 7 hens) to give me flexibility in handling my chickens. There is access to the middle section from the back. I can isolate a broody in one nest and the middle when she is setting on her eggs, I can starve a chicken for 24 hours before processing to clean out the insides, I have kept an injured chicken in here for a couple of days while it heals, I used it to lock up a hen to see which egg she was laying. Plenty of uses for an isolation area in the coop.

Your hens will definitely lay eggs.
The thing is that all hens have a favorite nest box that they want to lay their eggs in.
You will most probbaly find that one or three even four nest boxes will be used.
It might be a good thing that you have many nest boxes.
When you decide to increase your coop then they might come in handy.

IMO, I would of removed 6 nest boxes and left 4, but keep the others for later.
lol I've found that no matter how many boxes you have, they'll probably just lay in 2 or 3 of them. I have 9 chickens now, but when I had 19 we only had 4 nest boxes and they were determined they were only going to lay in 2 of them. Seriously. They waited in line to use them, and since I made my boxes 16x16 (for "standard" hens, EE's etc.) they'd pile up a couple in those two boxes.

Even now with just the 9, they only use 2 boxes. And you can forget about boxes with my ducks, they just lay them wherever they happen to be when the egg needs to come out LOL.
We had 27 hens and 24 boxes. Only 6 or 7 are used. I usually find several eggs per box. I box usually has 8+ and sometimes there are 2 hens in it at the same time.
There are at least a dozen boxes that were never used in the past 6 months.
Thanks for all the help guys!!
Luckily, the boxes are lower than the roosts, and the chooks wouldn't be able to fly into them so that's good. I think I'll keep the nesting boxes as is, and maybe fill some with hay/straw and some with pine shavings? I'd love it if the hens used the extras as space to hang out or sleep...
I guess the only downside is having to clean them out?

Oh that reminds me...would it help with cleaning to line the boxes with linoleum?
Or should I just leave it wood?
I have also found that most of the hens will use only one or two nest boxes, or which ever boxes already have eggs in them. I've had 10 hens in each pen with 4 nest boxes and all 10 usually only use on box, so now, I will only have about 5-6 hens per pen and I will only have one large plastic storage container it a hole cut in the side as a nes box and 2 hens could fit in it comforatbly at the same time if they wanted too.
I've read lining nest boxes with left-over shingles from the coop is the best for durability and ease of cleaning. During spring cleaning I'm putting the shingles in our nest boxes.
I found scrap carpet in my attic and put it on the floor of my nest boxes. The carpet pads the wood to prevent cracking. If they were sleeping in there, it would be a mess, but the roost are higher than the nest boxes. I've never had pooh in there yet, and I've never found a cracked egg! (but I've also only been doing this for the last year)

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