Nest boxes: open or close? Feedback/ pros & cons appreciated!

bgmathteach

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Aug 22, 2021
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How big is the tractor?
Pics?
I've attached pics. The ones showing a big hunk of plywood...that is where the external nest boxes will go. As for dimensions, I was thinking 14" deep, bottom nest box 14" high, top one (with slope of roof) 15" at max, 12" at low, and 12" wide (all) if I went with all single boxes. Again, any configuration of single, open, etc. is on the table. (Will access nest boxes from outside/back of tractor.)

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We had rain a day ago. Tarp hanging on side keeps rain from blowing into PVC feeder.
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FYI: the pic of the hitch pin - that attaches the roosts (at back) and allows me to lift the entire set of roosts (from front) should I need to get to the back of the tractor - acts like a hinge
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Seems like feedback so far is for my option #1 or #2, not completely open.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Anyways, back to my quandary about the nest boxes.
You never know how chickens will behave or where they will lay. I sure cannot give you any guarantees about any of this. I think you are looking for some place you can lock a broody hen and isolate her during incubation and for a few days after hatch and enough room for them to all lay (if they will use it). Don't add any more weight than necessary. Have I missed any of your criteria?

My suggestion is to put the nests on the bottom row with one of them being a double so you can lock the broody in there. On the second row go with the open nest, 4' wide. See if they use it. If you get a broody up there move her to the lower double nest.

Basically I think you are overthinking it. You cannot make them do what you want them to do, as much experience as you have you should know that by now. Make something convenient to you and see what happens. If they don't like it try something different, maybe like adding partitions to make individual nests. Or maybe hang a curtain on part of the front to make it darker. If all the eggs wind up in a nest instead of scattered around does it matter how many nests are used?
 

bgmathteach

Crowing
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Aug 22, 2021
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Basically I think you are overthinking it. You cannot make them do what you want them to do, as much experience as you have you should know that by now.
You are correct about that....on both counts. I was just hoping something would entice them better, LOL.
My suggestion is to put the nests on the bottom row with one of them being a double so you can lock the broody in there. On the second row go with the open nest, 4' wide
I think this is a great idea, because, as you said, I can always partition the top one later if needed/it doesn't work. That configuration hadn't crossed my mind - thank you.
 

bgmathteach

Crowing
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Aug 22, 2021
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I have 15 hens using one 36" wide community box, I have two but they only use one.
Wow, so, many for one space - that is great! More reinforcement that @Ridgerunner suggestion is probably best. Thank you :)

Ridgerunner said:
My suggestion is to put the nests on the bottom row with one of them being a double so you can lock the broody in there. On the second row go with the open nest, 4' wide
 
Jul 17, 2021
54
129
71
Northwest Iowa
I don't have enough experience to offer advice. I just wanted to say I really like this design - especially serving so many for the amount of space. And being able to lift up the roosts is awesome. We were thinking about a tractor design at some point so saving this post for future. 🥰
 

bgmathteach

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Aug 22, 2021
612
5,941
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Massachusetts, USA
I don't have enough experience to offer advice. I just wanted to say I really like this design - especially serving so many for the amount of space. And being able to lift up the roosts is awesome. We were thinking about a tractor design at some point so saving this post for future. 🥰
Hi @OurSufficientLife, I'm glad you like it!

I will say that I would strongly suggest one 'tweak' - that I will be making on the next one. I assume you saw that there was a door on the front. I would keep that (I have 2ndary waterer and 2ndary feeder on either side of the door.). However, I would add a 2nd people door at the back between last roost & nest boxes. If you have to go in to get a bird at night when they are all roosting, THEY ARE HEAVY., so it is daunting to lift roost. This way, you can reach everyone - from one end or the other. Other than making the next one a bit lighter (not an issue if you have a real tractor), I think that is the only change I would make after having used it for a close to a month.

[Note, I have a movable electric fence that gives them about 200+/- sq. ft. of 'pasture space' each day, and I have hooks running along side of tractor @ 2' intervals, as I 'cover' the electric fence pasture with a mesh tarp, as I have too many girls that fly over the 4' electric fence otherwise (even with 1 wing's flight feathers clipped!]
 
Jul 17, 2021
54
129
71
Northwest Iowa
Hi @OurSufficientLife, I'm glad you like it!

I will say that I would strongly suggest one 'tweak' - that I will be making on the next one. I assume you saw that there was a door on the front. I would keep that (I have 2ndary waterer and 2ndary feeder on either side of the door.). However, I would add a 2nd people door at the back between last roost & nest boxes. If you have to go in to get a bird at night when they are all roosting, THEY ARE HEAVY., so it is daunting to lift roost. This way, you can reach everyone - from one end or the other. Other than making the next one a bit lighter (not an issue if you have a real tractor), I think that is the only change I would make after having used it for a close to a month.

[Note, I have a movable electric fence that gives them about 200+/- sq. ft. of 'pasture space' each day, and I have hooks running along side of tractor @ 2' intervals, as I 'cover' the electric fence pasture with a mesh tarp, as I have too many girls that fly over the 4' electric fence otherwise (even with 1 wing's flight feathers clipped!]
I hadn't thought about the weight of the roosts. Glad you mentioned! Great tips for when we tackle this. Thank you!
 

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