How many nesting boxes do I need?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by perrypogue, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. perrypogue

    perrypogue Out Of The Brooder

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    I currently have 9 pullets that are laying an average of 7 eggs/day. I have 4 nesting boxes and I usually see 3 pullets using 3 of the 4 boxes every morning. But this has been so much fun that I'm receiving another 12 pullet chicks in a couple of weeks. I had thought perhaps I could get by with the 4 nesting boxes but now it looks like I'll need another 4 boxes. This will be using up more space in my 12'X12' coop ... I'm also planning to build new roosting area for the new chicks. I suppose it will just get a little more crowded in the coop than I would like but I don't see any other option. This is my 1st year as a chicken farmer ... I'm loving it ... but from earlier reading I had believed that there wasn't a need for so many nesting boxes ... however, I wouldn't want my ladies to need a place to lay their load and see a 'no vacancy' sign....lol
     
  2. Ameraucanas

    Ameraucanas Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got 10 nests for 21 hens, but they only use 3-4 the most. The rest are emtpy and fight for those 3 nests everyday. I usually find 2-3 hens in one nest or sometimes see them lining up for same nests.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    How big is your coop, and do you have room to separate them from your older ladies? Are you in a very cold climate? Is your run big enough for them? Recommendation is at least 4 s.f. in the coop and 10 s.f. in the run per bird. Winter time is a time when crowded, and not even crowded birds can get into some heated arguments and start some aggressive behaviors. Nest boxes, not so much of an issue. No matter how many you have, they'll all line up and squabble over the favorite one. I have one nest hog that likes to get in a daily tussle with one of my other gals. When they do that, invariably they crack or break an egg, so I try to get out early to get those first few eggs.
     
  5. perrypogue

    perrypogue Out Of The Brooder

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    My coop is 12x12 and my pen is 12x24.

    I could build on to the coop ... even enlarge the pen, I just don't know if that is necessary. With just the existing coop there would be 21 pullets/hens and one rooster.

    My new chicks will be here in a week. I have an area inside the coop ready for them. As suggested by another member I've cut a small hole that will allow the chicks to get familiar with the rest of the coop. I won't open this hole until I've had the chicks for about 10 days (as suggested).

    I'm able to free range my flock. There is the possibility of dogs, coyotes, etc but there hasn't been an incident with these birds and I got them last May. I can also allow the chicks to use the pen while the older birds are free ranging. They can alternate as they get older.

    I'll be anxious to tear out the little area I've prepared for the chicks and build them permanent roosting and nesting areas in the coop.

    My four nesting boxes are very nice but WAY over built. They currently sit on the ground and I'm realizing how nice it would be to have them about waist high. But I'd bet they weigh 150 lbs ... it will be very difficult for me to raise them. I suppose my ladies would get used to new boxes but they are laying so good now that I'm reluctant to change anything ... however bending over forever is already a pain.

    We can have some cold spells where the temp could get in the teens for 2-3 days but I hear chickens tolerate that kind of cold very well ... plus I can close the windows on the coop and I have electricity to the coop so I could burn some lights ... I feel certain they'll be warm enough.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    You always need two nests to start then a third with population of more than 10, 4th nest over 15 and so on. I'd say with 20 to 25 birds you only need 5 nests. I had nine pullets with two nests. Yup, they all wanted to lay in one of them and only used the other when the line to get in was backed up and couldn't wait anymore. Also had a broody take one nest so they had to use other for three weeks.
     
  7. AuntNomi

    AuntNomi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 8 hens in my front coop and they have 5 nesting boxes. All 8 use the very same box, will go in 2 or 3 at a time, or stand in line. WIll not go into one of the other boxes. They are hardheaded. In one of our other coops also housing 8 hens, we have only one little box so far. But no one lays eggs in that coop yet, so we have time to figure what we will do.
    The place I went to a few weeks ago and got chicks, the hens all just laid their eggs on a cute little straw nest on the ground of their coop. These people had a HUGE barn structured coop. Very safe and so nice. But I thought it was neat the hens did that. Mine couldn't as they would most likely get broken eggs.

    Is your coop going to be large enough for all the new chicks? Are you going to make one big flock or keep them separated?
    We have 4 coops, one is small, its the rooster pen. And one is actually be constructed this week. It will be for the new chicks I got a few weeks ago, I have them in the house til then.

    Good luck to you with your chickens, they are so much fun.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Sounds like a good plan....12x12 should be good for 22 birds.
    You could build roosts and a portable floor nest for the 'chick area', then they could continue to use that roost even after the barrier comes down and you'd have an extra nest.

    You might want to seriously consider rebuilding the nests off the floor. Not sure how hard that would be.
     
  9. perrypogue

    perrypogue Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Aart ... I just read the article on ventilation also .... I think I've done a lot that's good but made some mistakes too. Fortunately the mistakes can be rectified with just a little labor. Basically I need to remodel the inside of my coop. I made my roosting area using probably 20 cedar posts ... making a series of gradual 'walks' leading to the top of the coop. I knew they would want to roost as high as possible but I think I under estimated the degree of slope the could use. Mine consist of about 20 degree slopes and I believe they could use 45 degree ... maybe steeper. The horizontal posts they roost on seem to be fine but now there are MANY posts under the actual roost that are covered with poo. I intend to remove all the lower posts and replace them with a 2x6 board with a lot of cross steps screwed to it. The top of my roost is 8' and I'd like to use just one 2x6 for them to reach the top. As they love to fly up to my truck/boat I believe they can handle at least a 45 degree slope. BTW ... they elect to fly down in the mornings. The roosting area is in the right spot in the back corner of the coop. But I think I need to remove all the cedar posts as they are just too short. I'll replace them with longer boards. I think I'll build two roosting boards to give plenty of room for all 21 birds in the future. I've got large ventilation windows towards the front and I don't want to close them or make the chickens roost with that much wind across them.

    Everything will just be temporary for the chicks. I'll build them a shorter roosting area. But I'll be opening their small door into the coop and I'll be trying to integrate the flock ASAP. As suggested the small door will allow the chicks to flee back into their area if the older girls get to harassing them ... but it will also hasten the integration process.

    The last step will be to add about 2 nesting boxes.

    I'd be especially interested in how steep you think I can make the board leading up to the roost. The steeper the better and I can add the steps to help them make the climb ... especially for the younger girls.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I wouldn't make a ramp steeper than 45deg...less than that is better, cleats about 4" apart and 1/2" high.
    Bottom of ramp can be about 16-18" high, I use concrete blocks.

    Can depend on the rest of the coop/roost/nest layout tho, lots of ways to do things and you have to look at the 'big picture' to make things function the best possible way.
    Take a look at My Coop page for some ideas.
     

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