Nesting boxes with or without a top


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 8, 2009
Hi. My chickens are three months old now and I have been told that it is time to build nest boxes. So, of course I came here, looked at pictures posted, read the info, etc.. I noticed that most nesting boxes are actually a type of box ( sides and roof/top). Do they have to have tops? There is a long shelf in the coop right now with no sides or top. Is that okay? I was going to put small dividers on the shelf so each hen will have her own spot but without a roof. And is hay/straw the right choice for nesting material or should it be pine shavings? I use pine shavings on the floor of the coop. Thank goodness for this forum. I would be lost without it.


11 Years
Nov 11, 2008
Murray Kentucky
If there is no top then you're 99% likely to have chickens roosting there, especially on exposed dividers. Since they do most their pooping while on the roost, you can imagine the mess. Where the eggs are is the last place one wants poo. :p

It's also best to use a slanted top, between 20 and 45 degrees, to keep the chickens from hanging out on top of the nest boxes. Else the tops will be all crapped up.


11 Years
Mar 15, 2008
Osage Co
i have a combo of each and they never seemed to mind. I will say my girls favorite nesting box of all time was 2 covered kitty litter boxes. Easy to take and clean after the hatch as well. They line up for the covered litter boxes. The nest boxes my father built when I was a kid sounds like what you are planning and they worked just fine. They will find a place to lay they feel must safe. I have never had one go broody in anything but a covered nest box. But chickens were on the strange side.


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
12 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
Quote:My original nestboxes are open boxes (really storage boxes) sitting on a shelf made of 2 - 2X4s hung next to each other and the hens have always used them fine. Then awhile back I added a covered litter box on the floor, in a corner, for my half blind hen. ALL my hens line up to use that box except the half blind hen I originally intended it for.

Needless to say, I will soon be replacing all the open boxes with more covered litter boxes. (And ignoring the strange looks I know I'm going to get from the cashier when I purchase 4 litter boxes at once!).


Premium member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
I have 5 traditional open front nest boxes and two plastic bins with open tops. They like the higher open front nest boxes, but their favorites are the two open top plastic bins which are on the floor.

~*Sweet Cheeks*~

10 Years
Mar 12, 2009
Medford, Oregon
I think what you have will work just fine as long as their roost is higher then the nests.

I like the shavings for the nest boxes. They like to scratch around and make a cozy little indent in the middle. They don't usually poo in the nest box. Maybe once a week one will and it's easy to just pick up with the shavings.

My coworker that uses straw has to wash her eggs because they have poo all over them.

I don't have to wash my eggs.

Good luck with yours. It's so exciting to get your first eggs.

This is my banty brooder box I turned on its side, added a divider, and board in front to keep shavings in

This is the big girl's stock tank brooder turned on its side raised up on two buckets with 2 kitty litter pans and tub I had on hand. All the boxes get used by eight hens. At times one will have 2 and 3 in them. Often each box will have an egg or two.


10 Years
Apr 16, 2009
Flippin, AR
Beware that shelf! I built a real nice 6-plex nesting apartment for my hens...but they all decided to lay eggs on the bare workshelf instead. BirdBrains! But on the positive side, they don't poo there, and it sure is easy to pick eggs.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 8, 2009
Wow. Thanks for the info. Very much appreciated. Since this is the first time I have raised chickens, and have no idea which type of nest box they are going to prefer, well, I will give them a choice of covered and uncovered. I love the idea of kitty litter pans with lids. I have a clean, no longer being used set in the barn. As for the nesting material, since they will have a choice of nest boxes, I'll give them a choice of nesting material. But I do prefer the pine shavings as mentioned on above post. Pine shavings are easy to clean. So they will get one box with hay in it.

Thanks for the pictures. Very helpful.

Who would have thought having chickens would be so much fun.....and a great learning experience.

I'll get to work on the boxes and post pictures when all done. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow!

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