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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chaindog, Mar 12, 2014.
What should be the average dimensions for a nesting box? I have a mix of overage size birds.
There is a lot of personal preference involved in this. A recommended minimum on here is to make them at least 12” x 12” x 12” but some people get by with nests a bit smaller.
I made mine bigger and I’m glad I did. I made mine 16” x 16” x 16”, partly because my wall studs were spaced 16” and it was convenient for framing. And 16” divides into the 4’ or 8’ dimensions of standard lumber or plywood sizes quite well with no waste.
For me, it’s not that unusual for three hens to decide to lay in the same nest at the same time. In a 12” x 12”, even with just two laying at the same time it’s really crowded. One may wind up laying on top of another. There are photos on this forum showing that. With the bigger nests three are still crowed but at least they are not on top of each other.
Another reason I like the bigger nests, and I did not discover this until long after I built them, is that I let a broody hatch with the flock. When the first chicks hatch they get really active and some will climb on top of Mama. In a tight nest, Mama is pretty close to the front of the nest. When that chick falls off Mama it might fall out of the nest. I discovered this when I let a hen hatch in a nest in a kitty litter bucket. That nest was fine for laying eggs but a couple of chicks fell out when the broody hatched. I removed that nest.
I like the taller nest because, if the lip across the front is too low, the hen will scratch out the bedding or even any eggs already laid when she is arranging that bedding for her egg. Again I discovered that the hard way. I had to go back and raise that lip to about 5”. With the taller nests that wasn’t a problem. The taller lip also helps keep the chicks in when they hatch.
A general recommendation on this forum is one nest for every 4 hens. That’s kind of based on the 12” nests. If your nests are bigger they can handle more hens. Some people build what are called community nest boxes. These might be 24” deep and 48 or more inches long. These can handle a lot of laying hens but don’t work well for broodies. I still recommend using the 4 to 1 for flocks less than 20 hens, but the larger nests give you a bit more flexibility.
As I said, there is a lot of personal preference involved. There is nothing magical about these dimensions.
For the tiniest of bantams like a serama or dutch a 8x8 cube will do
a regular size bantam will fit nicely in a 10x10
a standard hen get s 12x12 nest
while the largest of breeds will do best with a 14x14 or even a 16x16.
My geese, ducks and turkeys will get 2ftx2ft covered houses. I got a idea in my mind but due to a move have not had the time or money to build one.
But on the coop I build the two nest boxes are 12x12 and 14in to 18 in high with a slope.
I think the carpenter (husband of a coworker) building our coop made them too small.
Should we knock out the center divider and just have one big one?
I can't tell physical size from that photo, but you will probably be OK either way.
That probably wouldn't be a bad idea, I would add a lip in the front of the boxes to keep the bedding in.
They're about 8"x8", I think.
Then I'd knock it out.
Will one box be enough for three chickens?
I really like the size of my nesting boxes (I have two for six hens) but I've never actually measured them. I took shelving from my garage and basically just cut it in half and laid it on it's back, one piece on top of each other. The first plan was to make them enclosed so we made cutouts for the entry. The flock was completely freaked out when I'd place them inside so I took the top layer off and left them open. I also put the entry opening to the wall and added lots more straw so they could really create a nice nest.
(Before I turned them around added more straw) This picture was from the very beginning of egg laying. I use to think the boxes could fit two or three hens happily but they've gotten a lot bigger and fill the box more now lol
This picture is from last week, same bird (look how much bigger she is!!!)