Does anyone have nests that aren't boxes?


Dec 15, 2017
NE Kansas
Short question: is there anyone who has nests in their coop that aren't enclosed boxes, meaning they don't have a "roof" on them? I would like to just use a box or a basket for them to lay in. I'm not having my next boxes built into the side, they will be inside my coop, but within reach of the door for easy egg retrieval. I am unreasonably paranoid about sticking my hand into the nest box and being greeted by a black snake... so I'd like to be able to see into the next box before reaching in. Pros/cons?

I know that the best thing to do would be to make sure that snakes can't get into my coop... all the windows and vents are covered with 1/2" HW cloth, but I'm still concerned about it. Like I said, unreasonably paranoid.

This question is a little premature because I don't even have chicks yet (T-10 days!!!), but I've finalized almost everything else in my coop so I'm thinking ahead!
You can use open nests. What I did was use rubbermaid tubs and cut the hole out of the short side. They like the dark area to lay. But I'm able to lift the lid on the top to get eggs as I am paranoid of the same thing!
Lots of folks use open nests...tho an enclosed nest can give a feeling of security.
They don't need dark or 'privacy'...they just need to feel 'safe'.
Using fake eggs can give the illusion that 'other birds have laid here, so it's safe'.

Another good reason for covered nests is to keep the birds from perching on the edge and soiling the nests.
Making sure you have good roosts away from and higher(by about 12") than the nests can help alleviate that issue.

As for snakes, look before you reach in.
We have a door from the outside and use three plastic bins that can be emptied or washed out as needed. We left room that we could add a second floor and another door if ever needed. We only have 6 hens now and they use two of the nests.
The best nests for 4 - 5 pound hens to hatch chicks in is 24 inches deep, 12 inches high, and 12 inches wide. The sides and back are made from 1X12 boards 24 inches long and the roof is an 18 inch by 24 inch piece of 3/4 inch plywood. Four 12 inch long frame pieces are attached vertically to a 12 X 24 inch floor. This will give you a small space at the top of the nest box for ventilation about 1 & 1/2 inch wide but a small piece of 1/2 inch hardware cloth can be put over it to keep raccoons from reaching in. Also the floor can be hardware cloth as well, as this helps maintain the proper humidity in the nest. The floor that the eggs sit on should be moist clean soil, dirt, or sod (root side up please) only a tight hand full of wheat straw for a bedding and remember to keep your nursery nest on the floor.

One more thing. keep your hens and their quarters free of red mites. When a heavy infestation of red mites are in your coop or other hen housing as many as 500,000 (yes that is half a million) red mites can feed on each of your hens every night.
My girls have taken to 'sharing' so I did an upgrade, they are still sharing. These bins were in the thrifter section at Home Depot.


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