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Nest boxes: inside vs. outside

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by orcasa, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Inside

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  2. Outside

    10 vote(s)
    90.9%
  1. orcasa

    orcasa New Egg

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    My husband and I are in the planning stages of our tractor coop for four chickens (an Ameraucana, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, and two Cochins) which will arrive in April (I know the flock will be expanding, inevitable right?). The tractor will be 5'x12' with 5'x4' of it being the actual coop area and the rest is the run. The nest boxes we're planning will be four 12"x12" nests (not too small I hope..?). So my question is; what are the pros and cons of making a nest box that is on the outside, with the traditional "roof-lid" design, and what are the pros and cons of the nest boxes being completely inside the coop, with the nest door being flush with the exterior wall? I'm at a loss on which design we should pick [​IMG], please help! Sorry for the long winded question, I wanted to provide enough info for good answers ;). I'm adding a poll to this for easy answering, but I'd love to hear your explanations on why you chose that answer. Thank you so much for your help!!!
     
  2. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Outside adds a little more floor space and you don't get poopy feet, my new one has outside access, live and learn.
     
  3. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also went with an exterior nest box assembly for our coop. Ours sits too high for a hinged lid but the back wall of the boxes is split and hinged so it can be opened to retrieve eggs.

    For us the reasoning was that it gives the chickens more floor space and makes retrieving eggs much easier as we don't have to go into the coop. This keeps the shoes cleaner, reduces the hassle of chasing chickens that make a break for it as you enter and exit the coop, doesn't disturb the ladies as much when they are laying (they don't feel trapped as you approach them. They just grumble and give you the stink eye when you open the back panel. hehehe).

    Our chickens usually free range as much as we can allow so if one makes a break it isn't usually a big deal. However, there are times I don't want to have to chase them... ie if we're getting ready to go somewhere or if there is inclement weather moving in or on top of us.


    Edit to clarify... Our nest box is attached to the back wall and "hangs" on the wall. As mentioned just made sense to give them as much floor space as possible.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  4. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First off, you don't need 4 nest boxes. For you size flock one would work fine.

    It appears that you are planning on "outside" access to the nest boxes either way and are simply wondering it your should put the space of the nest box outside or inside.

    If this is the case then it comes down to which is easier for you to build and space issues. Outside boxes preserve coop space for you future flock expansion, but need to be weather proof as well as they need to look nice and blend with the coop. Inside boxes are probably easier to build as they don't need to be built weather proof and they don't need to "look" good as you won't see them from the outside.

    I think almost all chicken keepers will agree that outside access to the nest boxes is the bomb!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If the nests are off the ground where the chickens can get under them, there is no difference in floor space in the coop whether interior or exterior.

    This can be handled with proper construction, and you need to pay attention to it either way, but a nest hanging out might allow rain or wind in. It can also be an easy way for a predator to gain access. Since you are going to have a door opening from outside the coop in either case, I really can’t see any major pros or cons either way. Just build it strong.

    A rule of thumb on this forum for number if nests is one nest for every four hens. I’d still suggest two nests boxes for four hens just so you have flexibility, but you really don’t need more than two nests for up to eight hens. In a tractor that size you are not likely to have more than eight hens. Nests take time and material to build and he hardware costs can add up. I’d really think real hard about having no more than two nests. It will also make it lighter to move.

    The minimum recommended size for a nest is 12” x 12”. I went with 16” x 16”. A lot of times I find three of my hens crowded into one nest, all laying. With the larger nest they are not literally stacked on top of each other. That was personal preference, just my way of doing things. There is no rule that says you have to go larger than 12” x 12”.

    I built outside access but don't use it. I have a walk-in coop and I prefer to go inside and look around. I've found a dead chicken, a possum, and a few snakes I would not have noticed as quickly if I used my outside access. That's not practical in a tractor.
     
  6. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    True but more next boxes never hurts. And the girls do like their options. Currently I've got three nests for 5 hens. Usually they all use the same nest day after day. But every once in a while they will use multiple nests. I'm guessing someone was taking too long and someone just couldn't wait.

    And never hurts to add the extras in case you want more hens later. Personally, I am planning on adding 6 more this spring and each spring thereafter. Eventually, each fall I'll cull the oldest to keep the over winter population at approximately 18 hens. Basically putting the three and a half year olds in the freezer.

     
  7. orcasa

    orcasa New Egg

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    Jan 27, 2014
    Libby, MT
    Yes, we are planning on outside access to the nest boxes in either situation. Not because I don't want to interact with the girls, I will probably end up spending a lot of time with them anyway :), just more for their convenience, so we don't bug them as much when snatching eggs.
     
  8. orcasa

    orcasa New Egg

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    Jan 27, 2014
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    So you guys are saying no more than 8 chickens and 2 nests for a tractor this size?
     
  9. CarolinaHen

    CarolinaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We usually collect eggs in the late afternoon. The majority of our girls are done laying by then on most day. We have several nest boxes and even a community box. They will all wait in line for their favorite box and fret until the one in there hurries up rather than going to another box. [​IMG]
     
  10. orcasa

    orcasa New Egg

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    Jan 27, 2014
    Libby, MT
    Thank you guys so much for all the input, information, and help!!! It has been all so great and helpful!! I'll be posting pictures of the building process when we get to it; which will be soon, getting supplies this weekend!!! YAY!
     

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