outdoor nest boxes?


8 Years
Dec 28, 2011
I have a question. I'm a new chicken owner (I have 25 four-week-old pullets.) I'm building a coop for them now and also an enclosed large run (maybe 25' by 50' or 25' by 40') My question is, could I put the nesting boxes outside in the run since it will be totally enclosed, or should I keep them in the coop where it should be a little darker?

The second question is, can I keep the coop door open all the time since the run will be safe from predators? (There will be protection on all sides and above.)


Jerry in Texas
First off

To answer your question I would put the boxes in the Coop. Outside eggs could be more likely to draw in predators. If your run is secure you could leave the doors open. I personally would lock them up at night for peace of mind.
Thanks for the reply. I had never thought about having outside nest boxes until I saw a Youtube video of some guy standing in his chicken run holding his chicken and I saw a nest box on the wall behind him. When I saw that, I thought maybe it might be a good idea after all, but I always thought chickens liked a dark quiet place, and out in the run didn't seem like it would work because of the activity and noise, etc.

Jerry in Texas
Hi Jerry. I am in Texas too. Our summers get so hot, that I didn't even consider an enclosed coop area, but went with more of an "open air" coop...until that very harsh winter last year. This year, I am making a little coop area for my chickens...just in case. I have a free standing nest box in my run. the coop area I am creating is going to make it hard to accomodate an interior nest box, so I will be retaining my free standing one. My girls seem to like it just fine.


This is a shot of the "coop" before I added the back wall, and some other touches. Waffle is modeling the nest box with it's luxurious shredded paper lining.
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Hey, Kari:

Thanks for the reply. I like your nest box.

I think I might split up the nesting boxes and put some in and some out and see what they chickens like best. Since the run will be totally enclosed, they may not feel a sense of danger outside like they would free-ranging, so it will be fun to see what they'll do. I live out in the country, and we have several predators here: bobcat, coyote, raccoon, snakes, hawks, owls, foxes, and probably some I'm forgetting. I've got to do something quickly, though, because they're growing fast, and there are 25 of them.

Jerry in Texas

I would recommend keeping the nests inside. I always leave the pop door open because my run is fully enclosed also. I had a thought of having nest boxes outside when my one hen kept laying an egg on the ground. Instead I put a plastic egg in the nest inside the coop to give her the idea and it worked! good luck!
Thanks for the reply. I'm still thinking about what to do. After this last brutal summer -- and it was a brutal one. Average temp in August was 90.4 degrees -- I just don't want the hens to get so hot that it's dangerous for them. Jerry in Texas
I've seen pics of lots of outdoor nest boxes, especially in warm climates, where many people don't really even have a coop (like the one above.) Where I live, I think the ideal setup is a three sided setup attached to a wire run. I think your idea of some in, some out is especially good. I've had several portable "nest boxes" (really, whatever is lying around) and found some prefer hidden, darker areas and some prefer a more open, even open top type nest.

Also, lots of folks leave the whole coop/run area accessible 24/7. If your run is really predator proof, it sure saves a lot of trips to open and close the pop door. Some people buy automatic pop doors, but they aren't cheap and (like anything these days, it seems) don't always work well -- and can trap a bird outdoors. If I had a really predator proof setup, I'd put the money in a predator proof run, myself, and leave the pop door open.
Flockwatcher makes all good points. The talk of a hot climate makes me think of how i am going to add ventilation for this summer. I am thinking to install big vents(openings covered by hardware cloth) near the floor by the nest boxes on the north side wall of the coop. That way in the summer the shady side has more ventilation. I was also thinking to make different doors for the outside access to the nests that were half hardware cloth on the top so heat can escape. I have seen different pictures of open top nests, but it is a preference of whether you want to have to go in the coop every time you check for eggs or not. Hanging nest boxes on the fence would probably work well if there was a shady spot for one. You could frame a door opening through the fence for collecting. your climate is quite different than mine but that is my two cents! good luck!
I've noticed on some Youtube videos and photos of people's coops where sometimes the whole coop is inside the run and it's open all the time. In fact, one looked like it didn't even have a coop door, and the humans entered the run through like a screen door. It was a pretty nice coop, but with all the materials that particular coop was made out of, it would be too expensive. However, when I get something figured out, I'll take a few pics and upload them.

I've got to do something pretty quick, though. The chicks are about four weeks old now and they're growing fast.

Jerry in Texas

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