External nest boxes


In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 22, 2009
Hi all -
I am currently converting a playhouse into a chicken coop. I plan to build a nest box with a hinged lid to mount onto the coop. Any tips for building and mounting, to be sure that it is secure, weather-resistant and predator proof? (I will of course be latching it). In many ways, rain/snow are my main worries, and making sure there are no drafts. For instance, I don't want any water to leak in around the hinges.
I really need to get my butt in gear and get some pics, but you will love a nest box mounted to access from outside! I did mine as a community nest (no dividers) cause it's easier. I built the whole box (40"w, 14"d), with a 2 by 8 hinged as the lid, then mounted it onto the coop. Since I got the hinge tight enough with the coop, and it is under the eave, no water gets in (it is slanted of course). I latch it down and stick a caribbeaner through the latch. The hens love it! Right now they have a stump to get into it, I have been too lazy to build a roost by it.

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I don't have any pictures either, but if you have an overhang on the roof of the nesting box and have it so the back opens up, you will keep water out. I'd hinge it at the bottom so a hen doesn't come flying out when you open it up and put a cross member at the top to take the hasp. This gives you room to reach under the overhang to get to the latch.
Thank you both for your replies. About how much angle do people have on the top (opening) part of their external nest boxes? I am assuming some basic height is needed for the hens to feel comfortable in the box, and so you wouldn't want to have too steep an angle on the outside. I will be making the footprint of the box 14" by 14", since I have a couple of larger breed hens to accommodate.
The external nest box seems to be a little more complicated to manage than simply creating a door to access an internal nest box, but I want to have as much space inside the coop as possible, and figured an external box would be better for that reason. (I have four pullets that will need a coop by May, and the coop is 4' by 4'. I'll be creating an attached, covered run for them as well).
I'm in Colorado (zone 5) - has anyone had trouble with eggs freezing in the wintertime with external nest boxes? I will be making the box out of OSB and covering it with wood siding. I will probably be lining it with something easy to clean, too. I am insulating the main coop with styrofoam craft panels (and covering it with paneling so the chickens won't peck at it). I'm debating whether I should attempt to insulate the external nest box; it seems a little more complicated to manage than the inside of the coop.
Thanks, all!

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