Ratio of Nest Boxes to Chickens

Pupsnpullets

Songster
11 Years
Mar 9, 2008
1,076
18
193
SoCal desert
I know once the girls really get into laying they will all try to use just one or two of the available nest boxes, but what is the recommended ration of nest boxes to chickens? Currently I have 15 girls to 6 nest boxes.
 

sunflour

Flock Master
8 Years
Jan 10, 2013
14,974
7,757
772
Macon,GA
The "experts" quote 4 hens per nest box. But I have had 6 hens use 2 boxes even with 2 hens broody in those nests
idunno.gif
They just worked it out by theirselves without big issues.

6 nests for 15 should be more than enough.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
You've more than enough nests. There is a general feel that 5 birds to nest is about right. I like to say you always need minimum of 2 nests. Even with 4 hens one could go broody and you may want to put fertile eggs under her. Two nests is just one box with a divider so not hard to start with. From there once numbers get over 10 layers one may want to add another box. Somewhere between 15 and 20 birds 4 nests would work well. There is a tendency I've seen to have way more nests than needed. Not a bad thing but not needed either unless you have overly broody birds ad don't break them so they'd be taking up nests. They'd all usually want to lay in the same one but with more birds the waiting line gets backed up so they start to lay in other nests but that's only because they'd drop the egg while waiting in line to use the box they wanted to.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,505
20,780
907
Southeast Louisiana
As you can see different people have different opinions on this topic, just like practically every topic on this forum. That’s often because we have different experiences. Chicken come in different sizes and each chicken has their own personality. Some go broody a lot, many never do. I’ve had a nest hog, a hen that stayed on the nest for three hours to lay her egg and would not allow another hen to share the nest. I once saw a hen grab a pullet by the head and pull her off the nest so the older hen could have it. It’s pretty normal for me to see three hens on one nest at the same time, even with other very similar nests open. With some flocks I see most of the eggs in one or two nests. With other flocks I see the eggs pretty well spread out across all the nests. Each flock has its own dynamics and changing just one chicken can change those flock dynamics.

I find the larger the nests are the more chickens they can accommodate. I think that 4 to 1 ratio we often hear is based on full sized fowl using 12” x 12” nests. Mine are 16” x 16” and I have no problems with a 5 to 1 ratio with full sized fowl. Joel Salatin used 24” x 48” community nest boxes and says each nest can accommodate 24 hens.

In practically everything to do with chickens I normally advocate for more room, just to give you flexibility in how you manage your chickens. I don’t know your sizes, chickens or nests, but 6 nests for 15 hens is more than plenty. I don’t see any disadvantage in your having so many now that it is done, but you could have saved yourself some time and expense building them.
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,047
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
As you can see different people have different opinions on this topic, just like practically every topic on this forum. That’s often because we have different experiences. Chicken come in different sizes and each chicken has their own personality. Some go broody a lot, many never do. I’ve had a nest hog, a hen that stayed on the nest for three hours to lay her egg and would not allow another hen to share the nest. I once saw a hen grab a pullet by the head and pull her off the nest so the older hen could have it. It’s pretty normal for me to see three hens on one nest at the same time, even with other very similar nests open. With some flocks I see most of the eggs in one or two nests. With other flocks I see the eggs pretty well spread out across all the nests. Each flock has its own dynamics and changing just one chicken can change those flock dynamics.

I find the larger the nests are the more chickens they can accommodate. I think that 4 to 1 ratio we often hear is based on full sized fowl using 12” x 12” nests. Mine are 16” x 16” and I have no problems with a 5 to 1 ratio with full sized fowl. Joel Salatin used 24” x 48” community nest boxes and says each nest can accommodate 24 hens.

In practically everything to do with chickens I normally advocate for more room, just to give you flexibility in how you manage your chickens. I don’t know your sizes, chickens or nests, but 6 nests for 15 hens is more than plenty. I don’t see any disadvantage in your having so many now that it is done, but you could have saved yourself some time and expense building them.

X 2 on all counts.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
In past 4 years of chickens I've only had large fowl medium to large dual purpose birds. Before that had mixed flocks of layers and dual purpose. I use 12x12 boxes. New location, new coop and new flock. I've one large external mount box 36 inches long with two dividers making for 3-12x12 nests, access from coop. Plymouth Rock but new variety to me flock and anticipate no problems with 14 to 16 layers.
 
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