community or individual nest boxes?


8 Years
Jan 11, 2012
I recently adopted a 2-year-old flock of hens. there are 11 right now, but it will soon be just 7.

I built their nest box identical to their old one, since they seemed happy with it. It's a community box: 4 feet long, 15 inches deep and 15 inches tall. There is one opening, a 10x10" hole in the center.

All the eggs have been laid in there, so they seem to have approved it.

I've noticed that the hens like to hide in the back, darkest corners to lay. I see this as the advantage to this box design, since they're able to get away from the opening and get some privacy.

However, today I noticed something. Marilyn had gone into the box and hidden back in the corner. A few minutes later there was a bit of a commotion, and when I looked, Jackie-O was sitting in the box, right in front of the opening, effectively blocking it, and Marilyn was standing outside the box looking forlorn. Pretty sure she'd been booted out.

Is that a problem with the community boxes? One hen will kick everyone out, and then they don't have anywhere to lay? If the boxes were individual, I excpect that Jackie-O still would have chased Marilyn out, but at least Marilyn could have gone to another box.

I can easily convert the box to 3 individual boxes by just putting in dividers and cutting 2 more holes, but then the hens who like to hide in the corner will lose their privacy.

which is better?
My experience has been that even with individual nest boxes they will all use and fight over one (almost always a corner one). So I cut multiple openings into a box similar in size to yours, and don't divide it.
i agree with everyone else! I had one large box for my 12 girls and figured that when they got their new coop i would make two more boxes. It was pointless because now they all just crowd around in one, haha
Those of you who have the "one big box" design, do you have just one opening or several like AtholCoop does?
I have a 21 hole nesting box, and when I had mostly my OEs and EEs in there they had about 2-3 they layed in. They never touched the other ones. Then we I moved them out and my put my Sussex in there they lay on the ground behind a plastic play pen. *sigh*

My larger coop that most of my layers are in, the only nesting box I have in there is an old wash tub that the bottom has rusted off. They jump in there and lay all their eggs. There is only one or two hens that will lay by one of the wooden beams in the coop. They like a dark, quiet, spot where they can have some privacy and that the roosters can't jump on them. :) Good luck

The first day I had the girls out here, we just tried to get something together as quickly as possible. I had a 12x15 nest box for them (11 hens). 2 eggs were laid in the box, one ended up in the straw in the corner, and one ended up squashed in the middle of the floor. Somebody was sharing the box just fine. I've been noticing that even with the large box they have, they seem to take turns. All the eggs collected so far have been in a clutch. They won't spread out. I would think 1 box would be fine for them, but 12x12 seems a little small if they're bigger birds. My Cochin wouldn't be able to turn around in that.
Keep in mind that these comments are from somebody who's had chickens for a whole week.

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