How much bedding for a nest?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SpeckledPullet, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. SpeckledPullet

    SpeckledPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2010
    Northeast Florida
    Please forgive my ignorance. I am new to chicken owning! We have two milk crates that we are using for nests and I filled them with straw. I filled them almost to the top and then created a bowl shape in the middle. However, they are very full. I am now worried that I used too much bedding. Can someone tell me how much bedding hens prefer to have in their nests? I did a search and didn't see any direct answer for this. I did see one post that mentioned 2 or 3 inches for shavings. Does this also apply to straw? Thanks!
  2. MuranoFarms

    MuranoFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Boyers, Pa
    So...are you standing them up? Or laying them on their sides?
  3. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    I've done that, filled them to almost overflowing - they seem to pick and scratch around in them til they have dug their own little hole to sit in
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Don't worry, the hens have very strong opinions about how the nest should be constructed, and will take care of any excess for you right away. They do like to have cover, though, so you might think about putting them under a shelf, or turning them on their side and screwing a piece of wood to the bottom front.
  5. SpeckledPullet

    SpeckledPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2010
    Northeast Florida
    Thanks all! I was hoping they would deal with the extra hay as needed. Considering you all confirmed this, I will leave the hay and let the girls have at it.

    Murano - the crates are flat and sitting straight up. The hens will have to hop up and into them. My husband and I debated if we should cut out an opening and I had even considered laying them on their side. However, I saw all 4 of them hop up onto the lip of the crates so I figured they could easily hop into them when they decide to. Is this correct thinking? I am new, as mentioned previously, to owning chickens so please let me know if I am doing anything wrong. I want my hens to be as happy and healthy as can be!
  6. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    They will take care of any excess straw, but they like a secluded place to lay. They don't exactly get that by sitting by sitting in an upright milk crate. By laying it on it's side they can get get back in there and have a partition on each side and something over their heads. Take a look at my BYC page. It shows some nests made out of milk crates.
  7. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    mine didn't like hay or straw. I pitch in a handfull of cedar shavings, and they are happy as clams
  8. Ozchook

    Ozchook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2010
    CoyoteMagic, I may be wrong but can't cedar shavings be toxic to poultry??? I had heard that they can give off fumes which can either kill outright or weaken the birds respiratory system and make them more susceptible to other problems. Maybe a more experienced chook person can qualify this?
  9. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've had chickens about a year now. And I have discovered among other things...

    Chickens will lay eggs no matter what situation they are in or what is provided for them to use.
    Nesting boxes are for us...makes it easier to find the eggs that are less likely to get broken or dirty.
    Generally they take the path of least resistance and lay in the nice places we provide.

    I have a friend who provides nothing more than a couple milk crates, and a few cardboard boxes placed right on a dirt floor.
    I use dog crates because that is what I had...three plastic closed ones, and three wire crates.
    Only four are open, two wire ones are made into one and are closed up waiting for some hen to go broody.
    Three are up some distance and one is on the floor...they don't use that one.

    Mine started out mostly full of clean straw and the six hens including four who have just started laying make their own holes in the straw.
    One hen likes to be almost totally covered up and will burrow down into it and cover herself up in straw.
    I have very deep straw in the coop and although they will make holes and sit in it they all use the dog crates to lay.

    So no matter what kind of box you provide and regardless of what you put into it...they will lay eggs in it.
    They will chose that over a hole in the dirt in the corner of the run, or on the floor in the coop.
    Every single time? No. But they will 99% of the time.

    Terry in TN
  10. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    the only problem I see with milk crates standing up, is if more than one hen decides to lay in the same one, they may break the eggs, and once it is broken, they will eat it.

    if it is on it's side, it is not a drop onto any eggs that may have been laid previously, therefore the chance of breaking an egg is less.


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