Exterior Nest Box Access Door: On Top or on Backside?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by HousyRunner, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. HousyRunner

    HousyRunner In the Brooder

    Feb 17, 2012
    On researching my coop design, I noted that some exterior nest boxes had access doors that opened on top (the roof) and others the backside. I had a hard time deciding which design was better, as I could see advantages to each. So I broke down the variables as follows: access, weather, cleaning.

    Access: Since the top of the boxes are up off the ground about three feet, access seemed easiest if the roof hinged so it could be opened. Lift the roof, look inside for eggs. The backside access requires me to stoop a bit, especially to see to the front of the nest.

    Weather: Seems that the backside door favors keeping a heavy rain out. The roof hinge makes the nests more vulnerable to a hard, driving rain, with water coming through the hinge crack on top. The backside door requires the rain to be pretty-well blown sideways to enter, although backside seems like it could take a hit from a cold wind. However, you can run a small strip of wood to cover the backside hinge crack from the inside of the nest to further reduce wind and water from entering.

    Cleaning: If you put a lip on the front of the nesting box to keep the bedding in the nest, how do you readily clean the nesting boxes? With roof access, you essentially have a pocket that you have to clean out and that can't be easy. With backdoor access, you just open the door and sweep out the waste. However, with the backdoor access, you also have nesting material that could fall out each time you open the door.

    Any thoughts?

  2. americanvalkyrie

    americanvalkyrie Songster

    Nov 20, 2011
    Reno, NV
    I'm right in the middle of building my new coop, so I'm short on experience, but I will have both. The reason: I'm making my coop out of recycled materials, and the nesting boxes are an old shelf/drawer unit from a kid's bed. I turned it on its end, cut out a side, put it up against the coop... now the bottom level opens out, the top level opens up. The lip from the top goes over the sides so I'm not worried about weather getting in. Oddly, my worries are protection of the lid... because my recycled coop is so ramshackle, I'm covering it with a bunch of artwork, and layering the artwork with polyurethane. So I worry about too much stuff being set on the top lid, ruining my hard work on the painting. Not your standard coop concern. I'm odd, I guess.

    As for cleaning it, I made the coop a walk-in style. So I can go around to the chicken side of the nesting boxes and scoop all of the straw out from there. The side-opening level does look much easier to clean, though. And my kids will find it much easier to clean, as well.
  3. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    First of all.... [​IMG] from San Diego. I havent really thought about this because in the past I have had nest boxes that are inside the coop. With no moving parts. And I used Shavings in the nest boxes. I am currently revamping my setup so these questions are something I should be looking into as well. For what its worth I would think using a Shop vac to do the final removal of material would be useful. As well as using plastic tubs to line the inside of the nest box so you can pull em out and scrub them. That would work for any setup.

    I am also considering doing a community box. One big enough to hold two or three hens and a single opening in the front I have heard that because they are much darker inside it reduces egg eating and allows room for more so there is little standing in line for that " ONE " nest box that seems to be the favorite. In that case a top opening would be easiest. And since I need to build for seven breed pens it would save on costs for me because I could do a simple modular design and make all the parts at once. Plus laminate some sort of cleanable surface to the inside of the wood to minimize on Mite habitat. Like say some nondescript Formica.... but Plastic tubs seems a good way to go too and its something that can be a recycled product.

    Anyhoo welcome again Thanks for the brainstorm. [​IMG] [​IMG]

  4. Baggagolers

    Baggagolers Chirping

    Feb 15, 2012
    I put ours in the back, and it works great. No water problems, and that was my biggest concern. I looked at a lot of pictures, and it just looked like people had to do extra work to keep the water out of the top opening boxes. Cleaning is easy. I just put the wheelbarrow under it and brush it out. Plus it makes it easy for little one to get the eggs out.
  5. duckinnut

    duckinnut Songster

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    I toyed with the idea of external boxes but decided against it because if I one day I didn't want to do chickens anymore I could easily convert the coop to a garden shed or shed in general. Still like the externals just didn't choose them for my own practical thinking. If I had gone with externals I would have gone with the back entry versus top for two reasons. The first to reduce the chance of water entry and the second because my 8X8 is raised up 2ft. from the ground which would have put the nest boxes chest level.

  6. TheGardenCoop

    TheGardenCoop In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I went with the access on the backside, pretty much for all the reasons you mention here. It has worked out great.

    To keep the nesting material in, simply cut a 2x4 (2x3 would be ideal) to the widths of each box opening and rest those blocks between the bedding and the door. These stops hold the bedding in when you open the door, but can be lifted out easily for cleaning out the boxes.

    edited by staff
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2014
  7. HousyRunner

    HousyRunner In the Brooder

    Feb 17, 2012
    Putting a small removable fence or curb at the back of the nesting box seems like a great idea.
  8. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chirping

    Apr 14, 2012
    Palmer, Alaska
    Thank you TheGardenCoop for the wonderful link! I have had my nest boxes framed for a few weeks, but as the hens are a few weeks out from laying I never really attached the hinged door or painted yet. It's the same idea as what you posted, glad to see it works well for you!
  9. thecoopbuilder

    thecoopbuilder In the Brooder

    May 26, 2012
    For my coops I want everything in the front as much as possible. At least the stuff that you would have to maintain on a daily basis. This coop I have shown here is standard on all my coops. I always have the nesting boxes in the front along with the poop tray below it for easy cleaning. The main access door is usually on the side on on the back. For some reason many of my customers like the access door in the back instead of the side, but if depends on your preference.
    Anyway Good Luck


  10. akovia

    akovia Chirping

    Apr 1, 2012
    Hillsboro, OR
    After a lot of thought, I put mine on top. I got a hint here on BYC to use a piece of shower pan liner as hinge flashing. I tried it out and it worked perfectly! My nest boxes will stay dry, and my grandkids can easily collect the eggs. Cleaning my two nest boxes from the top is not a labor issue.​

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