Do nest boxes need to have a top within the coop?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 9, 2009
South Alabama
We are constructing our first chicken tractor. We plan to use milk crates cut in half diagonally for nest boxes. This removes the top and I wonder if the girls will be comfortable without a top covering inside our coop. I am trying to avoid roosting on the nest boxes.
Thank you
The Newbie
mine prefer them that way (open that is). The fellow I got some of mine from had a sort of 'tray' set up, and since I was building a whole new set up, I went with two traditional nest boxes side by side, and then across the top of them, a sort of tray with 3 or 4 inch sides, wide open with some shavings in them... darned if most of them, even the pullets who never saw my pal's set up don't prefer the 12 x 26 (or so) tray area!!!

as long as they're lower than the roost bars, they don't seem interested in doing anything but laying eggs there.

/edit/ I'll take a pic tomorrow to show since I think that was a bad description!
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The only thing about having them open-topped is that chickens may decide they like to perch on the tops of the nestbox walls and poo into the nestbox, which is annoying.

If your chickens don't do that, then sure, go ahead

Am having to re-do mine. Am going to put them on floor with a steep sloping roof overhead topped with linoleum . Currently they are equal ht to roosts, so about 4 or 5 of the 24 spend the night there pooping into everything. Will just have to stoop down to get eggs from floor level or near to floor level. Am just going to go with two 5 ft long community share-all type nests, flanking the wall-mounted feeding and watering troughs I made.
I have both - some hens like the closed in feeling, some will lay on the floor under the nest boxes ... and some will lay in the barn on top of the hay pile
I figure if they'll lay there (no sides, no top) they'll lay anywhere
and usually do ( grrrr )

If your hens haven't laid before, they'll get used to what you give them - if they are older and used to a certain way, they would probably prefer that, but they may like being enclosed better.

I say go with whatever is best/easiest for you - and if they refuse to lay totally, then change it - but chances are they'll get used to it and be happy.

There is the thing abtu them perching/pooping on the edges - which will happen
- but I just put a board across the top at night when they start doing this.

Here's some pics of my nest boxes, not sure you can see em, but there's even some eggs in the bottom box and in the upper tray. Also, you can see that the roosts are a ways away and higher than the boxes. Mine never roost in or on the box, they all cuddle on the roosts.




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