How high off ground for nest box?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by CrazyChickMom, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. CrazyChickMom

    CrazyChickMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2009
    U.P. of Michigan
    I am wondering how high off the ground the next boxes should be. They have already been built and are in place (didn't measure) and if they are up too high can I add a ladder? Also,
    there are perches in front of the boxes...can the chickens roost here? And should I place them there at night?
  2. hplowe

    hplowe Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 22, 2009
    Newnan, GA
    My 7 boxes are 24" off the floor of the coop, they jump up on the roost all the time and into the boxes, even the 12 week olds
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The roosts need to be higher than the nesting boxes. Chickens tend to roost on the highest point they can get to. If the roosts are not higher than the nesting boxes, they might roost in the nests. You don't want that since they poop a lot while they are roosting.

    The usual recommendation is the nesting boxes need to be 18" to 24" off the floor but you will find a lot of variety by BYC'ers. Many people have them on the floor. I have mine about 12" off the floor. I've seen photos where they are 4' or even 6' high. The chickens usually don't care that much. If the nesting box is more than 2' off the floor, I'd provide a perch to help the chicken get to the nest.

    If the nesting boxes are off the floor, they stay cleaner. If you have a small coop, nesting boxes on the floor take up room that the chickens could use. Since chickens are essentially ground dwelling birds, if they can get under the nesting boxes, then the nesting boxes don't take up valuable room. If you are going to have a broody hatch eggs in the nest, you don't want it too high. If the nesting boxes are higher, you don't have to bend your knees or back to get the eggs. Since the roosts need to be higher than the nesting boxes, the higher the nesting boxes, the higher the roost have to be.

    I can only think of one other consideration for the high of nesting boxes. What is convenient for you.
  4. Lil Chickie Mama

    Lil Chickie Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2009
    I built mine out of a pallet so it is the height of a pallet laying on the ground off the ground...wait, does that make sense? It's about 4 inches or so. I may raise it up by adding legs so the chickens can run underneath it, but I may not b/c I do want them to raise their chicks. I don't worry about the bending down though because we hinged the top so all I have to do is lift the lid and see if there are eggs. None yet **runs off muttering to herself "lazy, slow chickens..." in frustration/anticipation**
  5. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    YOu have some good info offered here, I think the one thing that has not been mentioned though is what breed you have does make a difference. My big heavy hens do NOT want to go up more than about 12 inches and they can get hurt coming down from higher. My little silkies don't fly . . . big consideration there. Broody girls have to be able to get their babies down safely. When given the option free ranging most of mine make nests and lay on the ground so that is where my new nest boxes are going.
  6. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 12, 2008
    Mullica Twp., NJ
    I made nest boxes out of square milk crates, and just leave them on the floor, in the corners of the coop. I put the boxes on their sides to make an enclosed cubby for the hens to walk into, and fill them about a third full with dry hay (making a little dent in the center). I also keep a fake egg in each nest for "encouragement". (I use a "hatching turtle egg" toy that looks and feels identical to the real thing!)

    At first, the girls were pulling too much hay out of the boxes, so I then added a small "lip" to the front of each box, to help keep the hay inside the nest. I simply cut some wide strips of hardware cloth, bent them into shape so they would wrap slightly around the bottom and sides, and zip-tied them in place with wire ties. (Don't leave any sharp edges at the top where the chickens will be stepping over and could cut themselves.) This seems to be working out well, although all three hens tend to lay in the same box most of the time. I have occasionally seen a hen use the "backup box", possibly when their first choice was already occupied. I'm glad that I have extra boxes around, to prevent squabbles and so each hen could have the opportunity to go broody if the need arises.


    We have a very large coop made from a 10' x 10' shed, that was originally built for housing peafowl. When we lost all five of our peas last spring, my oldest son decided he didn't want the added responsibility of raising peafowl for the 4-H, afterall. So we now use it for my younger son's Blue Orpington chickens. They have a very long, attached run with an enclosed top (originally to keep in flying peafowl, but now serves as great predator-proofing).

    I had to separate the Blue Andalusians from the larger Orps, however, so they're now living in a "temporary" makeshift coop, made out of an old gazebo-shaped rabbit hutch, lattice fencing, and a blue tarp. We really need to build them something more permanent and weather-resistant soon, before winter hits! If we can't rehouse them in time, I will need to cover some of the open areas with plastic sheeting and add a heat lamp somehow. Either that, or perhaps I could move their "hutch coop" inside the "shed coop" for warmth, and then carry the lone roo and hen in and out to their separate run, each morning and night. That shouldn't totally disrupt the social sanctity of the separate breeds, I guess. [​IMG]
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    I have a waist high or counter-top high double stack of nests on either side, with a wide poop board on top, and a roost 8" over that.

    My girls have a big crate to jump up on, from which they choose one side of the coop or the other, both being identical.


    This is an old pic, but the roost is a bit lower now and the big wooden crate is in the center of the back wall.

    The pop door out to one run is under that poop board, between two stacks of roosts. The whole side used to be a work bench in my former garden shed, which I couldn't justify not giving to my birds!

    My floor is hay, 8" deep, which I fluff for them so the big BR have a soft landing. Since they have poop boards, it only has to be changed quarterly at most.

    If I hadn't had the structure built to have double-deckers, I think it would have been fully adequate to have a single line of boxes on the floor, with the roost over a poop board atop the nests, just as it is, only one nest box lower. There is a 3" board across the front of the nest boxes to hold in the deep hay. My girls just hop up, though the second floor boxes are 18" off the ground. The penthouses are preferred most of the time, except when they go broody.
  8. Peeplperson

    Peeplperson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2009
    We put them even with the coop floor (which is raised above the run so the outside access is about waist level). There is a good 4" lip so bedding (pine shavings) doesn't fall out. I didn't open them up until the girls were 19-20 weeks old, and had the first egg 2 days later. The roosts are about 3' higher, and nobody sleeps in the nesting boxes, so there is very little poop to clean up.

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