Let's Talk Nest Box Dimensions...More or Less!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Duke of Orpington, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Duke of Orpington

    Duke of Orpington Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 12, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    I've begun coop construction (8' x 10') and want to get a little more input on nest box dimensions. I've read several older threads on the subject but I've still got some questions. All my questions are concerning 'standard' or 'full size' chickens, e.g. Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, etc. My plan is to build nest boxes from wood; I'm not interested in using buckets, crates, etc at this time. I plan to build a group of four nest boxes, two over two, which will mount to the wall and will have an outside access door.

    Here's an article that suggests 12" wide x 12" deep x 9" high. Here's another article with similar suggestions. Reasons given for this size are to prevent: 1) the birds from standing in the nest, 2) egg eating, 3) scratching nesting material onto floor, 4) fouling the nests, 5) reducing dirty, cracked and pecked eggs, 6) having only one bird in a box at one time. Smaller box/opening sizes supposedly provide a darker, more private "cave-like" environment for the chickens.

    1. Would a nest box built from shelving board, which is 11-1/4" wide, provide a deep enough nest box?

    2. Has anyone tried the lower-height (9") boxes with any success and have they prevented the above behaviors?

    3. What have you found to be the optimal dimensions for nesting boxes for 'standard' or 'full-size' chickens?

    4. Please post any pics you may have of your 'built' nesting box arrangements.

    Thank you for your input. [​IMG] Inquiring minds want to know! [​IMG]

    Ron
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Mine are 16" x 16" x16" high on the thought that sometimes they like to lay together and with the extra room, they may be a little less likely to break eggs with the extra room. In practice I have very seldom seen more than one hen on a nest at any one time and I have never had an egg broken in the nest.

    I think the optimal size depends on you more than the chickens. You will see a wide variety of sizes and shapes used. I really don't think the chickens care that much as long as they are cozy.

    This is what mine look like. I can lock them in the nesting box if I catch one laying on the floor, thus teaching it where to lay. I can keep a chicken isolated in the middle section if I need to treat it or if I want to starve it for 24 hours to clean its digestive track before processing. I can block off the front of the nesting box and open up the middle to isolate a broody hen while she is sitting on her eggs if I so desire, feeding and watering her in the middle section and letting her poop there. I can get to this through a locked opening in the back. It is inside my predator-proof coop, protected from drafts and severe weather, where the chicken remains a part of the flock, reducing possible reintegration problems.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Duke of Orpington

    Duke of Orpington Out Of The Brooder

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    Knoxville, TN
    Quote:I really like your use of doors on the nest boxes for isolation purposes when needed!

    Ron
     
  4. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2009
    I'm in construction right now and am framing my coop for two outside access nest boxes; one opening inside the run, and the other opening on the front of the coop.

    [​IMG]

    That is the front of the coop, and you can see the large opening at the bottom where the nest box will be mounted. I plan on making a box in a box, with walls 1 1/2" thick and insulated with block foam. Both nest boxes will have a locking top for egg gathering. The opening for the box is 16" high and 24" wide. I plan on making the box at least 12" deep, and possibly 16"....I haven't gotten far enough yet to do more than doodle a sketch so far.

    Initially I am planning on making both boxes communal, and see how our 5 Rhode Island Reds adapt. I like the idea of having an isolation cell and I will consider how to do that too.
     
  5. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    In our present coop, we have one long wall dedicated to nesting boxes. Its just one (external so it can be accessed from outside) long communtiy box cos they all lay together anyway. Its about 18-18" tall iirc, and about 4.5-5' long. Plenty of room for 9 girls and they seem happy.
     
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ours are 15" x 15" x 15" for sexlinks. The size worked well and when a second hen enters there is 'negotiation room' without the first hen needing to shift. We use wood shaving in them, same bedding as coop floor.

    [​IMG]

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  7. Duke of Orpington

    Duke of Orpington Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 12, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks everyone for all the great information and pics!

    Ron
     
  8. chickenbottom

    chickenbottom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2008
    hollister, florida
    my nest boxes are about 12 inches long 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep
     
  9. Dorte

    Dorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2010
    I just found this thread, and I think the suggestion to make the nesting boxes smaller to prevent problems is interesting. I thought that the "golden rule" was 12x12x12 and preferably bigger. Unfortunately none of the links to the articles worked for me.

    Hereby an attempt to revive the original questions [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    I have a nest box (3-bay) that I purchased at the feed store years ago. Each bay is probably 9x9x9. A few weeks ago all my layers were broody, and not paying any attention to the chicks, leaving them to wander the coop. After finding the 2nd dead baby, I evicted all the girls from the nest boxes and put the viable eggs in the incubator. Then removed the nest box entirely. In that small 3-bay nest box there were 7 broody hens.

    Oh, and yes, There is often poop in the nest box
     

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