Nesting Box Size & Amount??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gotweim, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. gotweim

    gotweim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2011
    Romeo, MI
    Good Morning! [​IMG]

    I absolutely love my chicken coop (even better, it was free!!) however I hate the nesting box design and was hoping to revamp it this weekend.

    Currently the nesting boxes are open on top, not giving any privacy. They also collect a ton of poop because they perch on the edge when they aren't laying. I have 4 of these rattan baskets and was thinking of using them turned on their sides but I'm concerned they will be a little too small. What do you think?

    When the baskets are on their sides they measure...

    12" High
    12" Wide
    9.5" Deep (this is the one I'm worried about)


    These baskets would be sitting on a shelf that is 14" wide so there will be more room in front.

    I currently have Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpington layers and just ordered a few more hens. Those will be Silkies, Barred Rocks, and Silver Cuckoo Marans. My Reds and Buffs are not large birds by any means! All together when everyone is together in the Summer I'll have 12 layers, are 4 nesting boxes enough for them? I currently have 7 layers and 5 nesting boxes but they all use the same one! A couple use the back corner of the coop and I think that's because of the privacy issue.
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    The problem with those baskets is that there isn't any front lip to hold the nesting material inside, and as you say the depth of the box leaves something to be desired. The other thing I'd point out is that a basket is going to be difficult to clean once it gets poop on it (and it will, chickens will get on top of anything flat and poo there), not to mention the fact that mites could easily hide in all those crevices.

    I have one wooden nestbox that I fashioned out of an old, leftover drawer. I just turned the drawer up on its end and screwed a lip onto the front. But my favorite nestboxes are lidded plastic storage bins. It's very easy to clean them, I just take them over to my composter and dump out the shavings, then hose them off and leave them in the sun to dry. When they're dry, I dust the bottom with poultry dust and put in fresh shavings, and the nest is now good as new. There are no crevices in plastic for mites to hide in, either.

    The particular model of storage bins I have is now sadly discontinued, but you could easily take any plastic lidded bin and cut a hole in one end to allow for access. That's what a friend of ours does, and that's where I got the idea for this in the first place.

    Yes, chickens do like to lay in communal nests. The usual rule of thumb you hear is to have one nest box for every 3 or 4 chickens, but my nine all use the same one, too. I like to have at least two boxes available, though, in case one box is full and a hen really needs to lay right then. I like to at least give her the option of laying elsewhere.
  3. gotweim

    gotweim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2011
    Romeo, MI
    Thanks! Looks like plastic is the way to go! I'll all for anything that cleans easy!! [​IMG]
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Yeah, it would be really easy to add a front lip with a scrap of 1x4 or 2x6 or something like that... BUT, the wicker/rattan thing would be a total dealbreaker for me. It WILL get pooey, and there will be ZERO way to clean it.

    For typical chickens you would not want anything at all less than 1x1x1', and bigger is better, like maybe 14" on a side or more.

    You would generally want one nestbox for every 4 chickens or so; with a larger flock you can get away with even more chickens per nestbox. As you have observed, they usually prefer to add to an existing "clutch" rather than start a new nestbox.

    Good luck, have fun,


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