Pop-out nest boxes should open from the top,..or side?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by HotDesertChick, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had chickens over many years in several states, and wish to begin anew, with a few fancy bantams and "external..pop-out nest boxes" on the east side of the coop.

    I have never had any experience with fancy-dancy external nest boxes. I see that some nest boxes open from the TOP, such as "raising the roof" of the nest box protrusion. Other boxes have a "drop front", whereby the front wall panel is hinged to fall down. Looks like the "front-drop-door" would be easier to clean, but the "raise-roof" design might be more varmint proof? Should I "drop my drawers", or "blow my roof"? Does one method work better, for not panicking hens? Other reasons for choosing one style over another?

    We are still in the designing phase, but time in narrowing. Any opinions? Thanks,...call me confused.
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    I think this will boil down to one of those "personal preference things" really. One thing to factor into the choice is what height the boxes will be from the ground - if the coop will be lower, a top opening box will be easier than an front opening one because you can reach down in vs. having to hunch down to get into the box from the front --- and the opposite would be true for a coop setup that places the next boxes at a higher level.
     
  3. Alabama Jack

    Alabama Jack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We built front opening nest boxes so the kids can harvest the eggs.
     
  4. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Ol Grey Mare and Alabama Jack for input. Front opening nest boxes would be ultra cool for kids.

    I also can't figure out what a near-ideal height would be for exterior nest boxes. I can put inside-coop perches up to about 8 foot in height so that the chix probably won't sleep in elevated nest boxes. I can see the "outside height" being regulated by how high perches are, but are there any general guidelines on height of external nest boxes? With our many clever varmints we obviously don't want anything that sits too close to (exterior) ground level.

    Any rules, 'bout height off of (inside) coop floors, as well? The only nest boxes that I have had were located within the coop, which is unhandy, and not as clean.
     
  5. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have front opening and it does allow for easy removal of the eggs. There's an interior lip to keep nesting material from falling out each time you open the box. It's a four foot wide communal box and has hardware on each side. Both sides must be unlocked to allow the box to open as extra protection from predators.
     
  6. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Mtn Laurel. The interior lip at the edge of your front-opening boxes sounds like a true winner t'me. I have never had a communal box, but the idea appeals to me, especially in terms of possibly being able to divide it for larger/smaller hens down the road. Don't the hens want more privacy? I have allowed for a four foot nest box on the front of the coop, as I have to fit in a 3' exterior door. The placement of the door has to clear a 3' interior storage space within the north end of the coop.

    A double latch (at each end) on the outside of the nest box door make great sense. Coyote noses are fairly "tall", and the critters are resourceful, as well.
     
  7. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I went to a communal box after observing that - no matter how many boxes I provided - the hens all wanted to use the same box at the same time. It looked like a highway backup with hens in line, pecking and squawking at each other, waiting for the one gal in the box to finish so someone else could hop in. I was always having to check the other boxes for eggs and they usually didn't have any. This way I only have to check one big box.

    The communal box has curtains on the front that gives them privacy from the rest of the coop but the hens don't mind sitting two and sometimes three to the communal box to lay eggs. What's really funny is that they will occasionally come up with a preferred "spot" in the communal coop. Right now it's the far right side. They will take spells of standing in line and fuss to sit in that one spot. Next week they'll change and all want to sit on the left side of the box! When they realize that a hen isn't about to give up her spot, they'll sit down on the other side of the box and lay. Funny girls, for sure!
     
  8. cnd8

    cnd8 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a lid-opener and I think it would be my preference. I have plenty of room to clean the area, I have easy access to the eggs, and I can check on birds without scaring them out.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    If it's outside the coop, a front opening makes it easier to water proof the top.

    Mine is a 'back' opening, but it's inside a shed, chains turn the back into a shelf to set my egg basket.
    Partitions are removable, if I unscrew the back...but I ended up using all single nests putting fake eggs in 3 of 4 nests...never seen any line ups for a nest.

    [​IMG]

    Here it is mounted in the coop wall inside the shed.
    [​IMG]

    Nest perch is now a 2x4 for more stability...some of the old girls were having trouble navigating the 2x2.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks...All ! For the further comments.

    Mtn Laurel: I pursued the link to your coop was was totally impressed how well thought out it is. You were soooo lucky to find the oak lumber! Congrats. I also have had no experience with "poop boards", but they look like they would be a great idea as chix do much of their doo-doo overnight, while roosting. I could readily fill it with sand in our arid area, even from screened arroyo sand, and would stay dry year 'round because of the arid clime. Do any of your chix roost on the edges of the poop board?

    Thanks, cnd8 offering a vote for a lid-open design. This might have more security? Chickens less likely to dash out, if spooked? The only drawback that I can see for a lid open might be leaking at the hinge area, if weather was rainy. The hinged area could not be backed with weather stripping? We are lucky if we get any rain, so this would not personally be much of an issue. Extreme summer heat is our biggest enemy, besides all dem varmints.

    aart: Another GREAT design, especially as a "retrofit". I like the "portholes" in the entry to your boxes, with front AND "back" bases raised to hold in litter/straw. The opening "clearstory" windows at the peak of your are a great design, letting hot air/moisture out at the highest point. Wish, I had your building to form a "nucleus" for our coop. Alas, sadly, we do not have the room to expand beyond 14 feet in length (determined by the location of present windows in the barn forming as the back wall...coop will be a lean-to structure). I can't easily go over 7 foot in width/depth, as we have one tree, and roots from another (gone) tree which would have to be removed. The existing small tree is gorgeous (Mexican Redbud), so it also determines the size of the coop. I want to keep the inside of the coop as large/open as I can, given our triple-digit summer temps.

    Again....Do the chickens doo doo on the edge of the poop boards? Love the "chicken highway" ideas given here. People on this site are absolutely AMAZING (!) with their boundless creativity, engineering, and resourcefulness.
     

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