Nest box basics

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Farmer X, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Farmer X

    Farmer X Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    I'm hoping to get some nest boxes together this weekend (my flock currently is completely free range and sleeps in the trees, but I want to (a) have a predictable place to find the eggs and (b) get them used to the barn as winter approaches).

    Just some basic dimension questions: how big should they be horizontally, how high should the sides be, how high off the ground should I put them (they'll be bolted to the wall of the barn stall), and how far apart should they be?

    I've also noticed that they like to lay under bamboo branches (I have huge groves here, and always have piles of the stuff laying around as I'm harvesting and thinning it). Should I suspend a bamboo "roof" over the nests?

    Also, should the "floor" of the boxes be solid? I'm going to build the 1.0 versions out of old pallet wood, but I was thinking of making nicer ones out of bamboo during winter when I have more time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  2. RWD

    RWD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wartrace TN.
    My nest boxes are usually 12"x12"x14"h and made in sets of 3 or 4 side by side. Mine are at floor level in the elevated house, but can be 24" off the floor. Chickens that free range and are laying their eggs outside a nest now, are hard to get trained to using a nest box in a coop without holding them in the coop for several days.
     
  3. Brucepierce

    Brucepierce Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2012
    Just outside Boston
    My Coop
    12x12x14 seems to be the size...I made mine 2
    Inches larger on each dimension....check out my pics I broke it down so you can see how they were built. Good luck
     
  4. Farmer X

    Farmer X Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    I'm not sure how to check out your pics (new here)!

    What about the bottom... should it be solid, or should there be spaces between the slats?

    I know I'll have to lock them in to get them used to laying there. Is there any problem with the rooster being in there with them? I don't think he'd be happy being the odd man out.
     
  5. Barrdwing

    Barrdwing Chillin' With My Peeps

    Our birds have a variety of nest box sizes and types: 12"X12"X12" ones I got from a feed store, several old Tidy Cat litter tubs with the lids cut down, old cardboard boxes, but their absolute favorites are three old covered litterboxes. They seem to prefer the roomy size (18 inches deep, 15" tall, 13" wide) and the fact that it's very dark in there due to the small doorway, plus decent air flow from the roof vent. Spoiled things! They also seem to prefer boxes that are between 18 inches and 3 feet off the ground, although that's probably just because most of our girls are over 2 years old and a little lazy. And if a hen is going to go broody, it will always be in one of the litterboxes.

    Solid bottom versus slatted: I lean towards solid bottom, although it would be convenient to be able to drop the bottom on hinges for easier cleaning, especially for a box permanently mounted on a wall. I've been meaning to experiment with some kind of mesh bottom for summertime laying and brooding, because it does get really hot here. But I think there would be a lot of bedding loss through the mesh. In cooler weather they do fine with a solid bottom. It also contributes towards that very dark box that they prefer. My hens must be part bat, the way they want to lay in caves!
     
  6. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    My nest boxes are inside our walk-in hen house, which is 10' X 12'. The nests are in a row of 6, mounted to the wall. They are about 30 inches above the gound. Each next box measures about 12 inches wide by about 14 inches deep. As the nest boxes roof is slanted, at the front they are about 12 inches high, and at the back about 16 inches high. None lay on the ground. The favorite nests are the ones on each end. Some of the hens will wait over an hour for her turn to use her favorite nest. We usually find 3-4 eggs each day in each of the favorite boxes.

    Nest box "optimal" size can depend greatly on what breed of chickens you have, and how big they are. Hens generally prefer somewhat secluded nesting areas, that are protected and darker that the surrounding areas.

    Mine have solid floors and if kept stocked with clean nesting materials, they stay pretty clean and dry. For nesting materials, I use whatever i put in the coop on the floor, sometimes straw, sometimes old hay, sometimes leave. They don't seem to care. They rearrange and "personalize" them anyway. No need for removable bottoms, etc for cleaning. Just reach in and remove the old bedding if you feel the need. I don't. My chickens will kick out the nesting materials they don't want. Sames me the trouble.....

    When training new hens, either leave an egg or two from the mature layers in the nests, or place a wooden or ceramic egg or golfball in the empty nest. They get the idea pretty easily. I read in an old publication Early 20th century) that it was common to blow out an eggshell and fill it with plaster of paris to create "training eggs". I don't remember what publication it was.
     
  7. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry, spell check and editing features don't work while at my work computer..... gound = ground. leave =Leaves. Sames = Saves
     
  8. Brucepierce

    Brucepierce Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2012
    Just outside Boston
    My Coop
    click on my name above my picture on the left of this post, then once you are in my profile page scroll down to W.Upton henhouse...photos are there:)
     
  9. bridget-rdh

    bridget-rdh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 6, 2012
    Drumright, OK
    Here's our new ones. A bit of overkill using 3/4 inch plywood. Boxes are 12x12x14deep. Same as the current metal ones the hens are using.
    [​IMG]
    We are going to have to place ours pretty close to the floor due to the building set up and will probably remove the perches as they won't be needed. We don't want them roosting on the top so we made it a sharp slant. Good luck.
     
  10. Farmer X

    Farmer X Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    Ah, thanks! Nice playhouse you have there ;-).


    Heh, mine will not be as pretty. Is there any reason you need the slanted roof if it's going to be inside anyway?

    I was also wondering if I could do it "double-decker", so I guess that question is answered too!

    I was planning on just having the floors be sitting in the frames, so I could take them outside and hose them off once in a while.

    Just a note about the stall: it's about 10 x 18, with a wooden wall on one side (separating it from the next room which is full of goats at night), a metal mesh in the back (security windows I picked up at the scrapyard), and stone on the other two sides (with a window and the door in the stone walls). It's cool in the summer and warmer than ambient in the winter due to the stone and because that level of the barn is partially in the hill.
     

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