Should Breeding Pens Have a Nest Box or Two? Design Ideas?

Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
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Northern South America
I have been busy with improving the security for our chicken run. As of now, the chickens just run together. There are a few game mix hens, the Rooster in my avatar, a speckled hen, and a couple other partridge-type hens. For the main run and coop, I am looking to go more toward games and game mixes in the future, because stock is available locally and I desire broody hens to help raise the rest of the flock.

I have a question about breeding pens. I am considering building two breeding pens for a (heritage) meat bird project that will involve Barred Plymouth Rocks and maybe a yellow-white-and-black type of barred bird or maybe something else. I am thinking about breeding these two together. Should breeding pens have one or two nest boxes?

What is everyones’ experience with breeding pens? Do you like aboveground designs or walk-in designs? Should there be a couple of nest boxes?

There would probably also be a “bachelor pad” for when the selected Roosters aren’t busy with hens. This is so as to avoid mixes between, e.g. Barred Rocks and game hens which I am guessing would be sort of ridiculous and not too useful for either eggs or meat.

Apologize for the lack of pictures at the moment - can provide some tomorrow.
 

Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
1,063
1,952
391
Northern South America
I realize most of these are lousy pictures, but maybe they are helpful? The first picture is in dim lighting and probably hard to see, but those two cockerels are the ones I am thinking of mating (in a few months' time) with Barred Rock hens. The ones that would be involved in the mating project are in the first and last pictures.

In the middle two pictures, the chick is a game mix (I believe she is female) and the hen is a member of the original 10 or so. We want those to have the run of the yard.

The Barred Rocks will be separated (by gender) into more spacious quarters once they are out of a short quarantine.

My main question is should there be one or two next boxes in each breeding pen? Yes, we will put roosts in the pens.
 

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Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
1,063
1,952
391
Northern South America
I am thinking about a better-ventilated, slightly larger version of this design (off the internet) but with just 3 or 4 pens.

I like the lack of ground contact for better health and cleanliness.
 

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Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
1,063
1,952
391
Northern South America
This is several months in the future, but I was thinking about doing two hens and one Rooster per pen for maybe a week at a time, and then putting the appropriate Rooster back in the "bachelor pad," while the breeding hens would stay in the pens. Is that a good ratio for a breeding pen?

If one of the Barred Rock hens were to go broody in the pen, I might put the Rooster back in the "bachelor pad" and let the other hen run with the flock for a while. Barred Rocks aren't as broody as game mix hens, though, so I think it will more likely be a matter of taking eggs out of the pen and putting them under a broody hen in the main coop at night.

Better to get info in advance, before we build anything...

Was thinking of transferring resulting fertile eggs from the pens to any broody hens in the main coop, as I don't have an incubator yet, although am considering getting one. The incubator would be so I could hatch even if no hen in the main coop was broody at the time.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
You cannot control if a hen ever goes broody, let alone when. I really like my broody hens but from what I think you are planning I think an incubator is a need.

Many breeders put one rooster in the pen with one or two hens. They generally do not have problems with over-mating, bare-backed hens, or the rooster being too rough on the hens. But there is a secret to this. They use mature roosters and hens, not immature cockerels and pullets. If you try this with juveniles you are likely to not like the results very much.

What do you think you gain by moving the rooster back and forth? Chickens generally do not like change. Moving a rooster to and from a bachelor pen would probably work. But why take that chance if things are OK in the breeding pen?

For two hens like that, one nest should be enough.
 

Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
1,063
1,952
391
Northern South America
Agree that an incubator would probably be necessary for this.

Would you advise to keep 2-4 young roosters in a “bachelor pad” until they either mature into the desired flock rooster or go to the dinner table? I’m not too keen on just turning them out to run with the flock because I am happy with our current Rooster.

I don’t intend to keep more than just a few for mating purposes.
 

Ruthster55

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 23, 2013
1,063
1,952
391
Northern South America
Ok... I did the search for "breeding pens" and am getting some useful ideas. Basically, you are building a mini-coop-and-run with everything necessary for a coop-and-run. Am reading that 10 x 10 is optimal for large fowl.

In my case, everything would be within our main coop which is already well-secured against predators.

Am just wondering if I can do this economically....
 

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