Nest Box For Brooding


10 Years
Apr 23, 2009
laguna hills CA
I have seen this topic discussed many times and have never been satisfied with the answers. If you are going to use broodies instead of incubators and plan ahead what is the best size and design for a brooding/nest box. I am assuming optimal bedding and good protection from the elements. Also assuming that the broody will be in a location where other chickens, turks etc will not disturb her. Also plan on not having roosts available to remove temptation. Is a nice size dog crate the best solution? Is a large wood nest box with some elevation better? I am asking because I have 2 broodies and me waiting for eggs in the mail. These girls are currently sitting on some infertile eggs to keep them in the mood. They seem happy where they are but it has never been my impression that leaving them exposed to the rest of the hens is a good idea while brooding. Please educate me so I will be a better papa:barnie.
Ideally, a pen 8 ft long or more, with a nice secluded box or "hut" in one end. I prefer to set them on the ground, however, in my area predators pretty much dictate a solid floor under them. A dog crate is not the best solution by far, but sometimes it is the only realistic solution. Depends on what space and facilities you have available. If you put her in a crate, you will need to let her out each day to stretch and relieve herself. It is not a good idea to leave them exposed to the rest of the hens, but if it's unavoidable then it can work. Just mark the eggs you want hatched so you can take out the new ones each day.

I have nest boxes up off the ground - ones my DH built. But my broody prefers to nest on the ground. I stuck a milk crate in for her with some comfy straw in it and she uses it just fine. That is what we do...I just have one broody right now. Mine is in with other hens, chicks and a roo. They don't mess with this mama hen though...touch her chicks and you might get a chunk taken out LOL
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This is what I came up with for my broody. I went with this as all our birds free range and had no other way to seperate her from the flock. I just set it up in the barn near the feeding/watering area. It is a watermellon crate that I got from the local grocery store. I also got a pallet from them so it is not just sitting on the ground (stays dry that way). I did put a board over the pallet and under the box as it has a large hole in the center. The top is some old fence we had in the barn that I cut to size.

I cut a fold up door in the side of the box so that when the chicks hatched I would be able to let them out. I used an piece of wire to secure it open.

As you can see there is plenty of room for food and water. I did let/get her out 1-2 times per day so she could take a quick dust bath. I left mom and chicks in the crate for around 2-3 days and them just opened the door. I did keep an eye on them to make sure the rest of the flock was ok with the new additions ( they were) and that the chicks found and could use the ramp to get back in when mom went in ( I had to help a few the first couple of times). The flock now ignors the chicks for the most part and mama and babies go in and out of the crate as they want.
I also have another one set up just like this that I can use if I have a sick or injured bird that needs seperated.
Hope this helps!
If all goes as planned I will have 2 broodies in separate nest boxes attached to a common run they will share away from the other hens. I guess I could give them separate food sources but will do that only if they seem to bother eachother. Will go with a large nest box though to accommodate separate water and feed just in case.

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