When do I need nesting boxes?

Jul 22, 2021
Cardboard would be fine too. If possible cover some of the sides but the bottom is the main issue. The only reason I recommend feed bags is because it's an easy way to reuse them and I don't feel bad at all if I need to toss one that's soiled, and for a hard bottomed nest box (wood) it provides extra padding for eggs as well, all for free.

I do use wood shavings (aspen) in the nest boxes. I'm out of shavings now so probably switching to hemp after this as I don't use shavings for anything else.

Oh and as for the measurements, anything shorter than 12" between the two and I'd say it's too short for standard birds.
It's only 10" clearance so side by side it is, they're 20" × 15" so 2 could fit in one for a little while until I get the permanent one's built. Trying to think of a way to enclose the tops, another post mentioned anything flat they will jump on and make a poopy mess so maybe an arched top, all I can think of is cardboard and attach it with zip ties, anybody have other ideas? Would I be able to leave them open or do chickens prefer a more confined space for laying?


Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
Trying to think of a way to enclose the tops, another post mentioned anything flat they will jump on and make a poopy mess so maybe an arched top, all I can think of is cardboard and attach it with zip ties, anybody have other ideas? Would I be able to leave them open or do chickens prefer a more confined space for laying?
It depends on the chicken.
Yes, they will sit on anything you have on top.

I suggest you leave one bin uncovered, but if you have a suitably sized cardboard box, you could just lay it on its side in the other of the two bins, so it makes a nice enclosed space. That way you can see what the chickens like. Chickens will sit on top of the cardboard box, but you can throw it away eventually (or compost it), and by then you will know more of what your chickens like. Just replacing a cardboard box on occasion might even be reasonable as a long-term solution, depending on how many cardboard boxes you normally have around.
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Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
You might find it informative and even fun to see what others have used for nests. As you can quickly see there are no hard and fast rules. Some are covered, some are not. They are all kinds of different sizes and heights above the coop floor.



People use wood shavings, hay, straw, Spanish moss, feed bags, carpet, and about anything else you can think of in the nests for bedding. Some of my nests have hardware cloth bottoms so trash can fall through. I cut tall grass where I don't mow or weed eat and dry that to use as nest bedding.

Some people find the thought that they may poop on the top of an enclosed nest as bad. I put a juvenile roost over my nests and use the top as a droppings board. This is where my juveniles roost before they are mature enough to move onto the main roosts with the adults. It's a horrible design as add-ons often are. If I were building it from scratch I'd have one piece of plywood across all of that, it would be a lot easier to scrape. As you can see it doesn't stop them from laying there. It's kind of messy but the reason I originally took that photo was to show I'm not out here every day with a bucket or warm soapy water, disinfectant, and a toothbrush cleaning up every speck of poop. We all have our standards.


When a hen lays an egg she sort of raises up. We often say she stands up but it's not like she is reaching for the stars. The poop and the egg come out of the same vent. To keep the eggs clean a bit of the egg-laying plumbing sticks out maybe a half inch. The hen raises up enough so she doesn't get trash onto that exposed part. For full sized hens we typically suggest a minimum size of 12" x 12" x 12" to give them enough room. They can lay in smaller areas but people need guidelines and 12" x 12" x 12" will work for all hens, even the big Jersey Giants. Mine are 16" cubes because that was convenient when I was building them.


Oct 12, 2020
I made a nest box with things I had laying around. I used milk crates and I cut a plastic shelf sheet to cover the bottom and filled the crates with pine shaving. They sell milk crates at Home Depot if anyone are looking for them. My chickens spend most of there time in my fenced yard. They only go in to sleep or to lay eggs. I live in the tropics where it doesn't snow.



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Aug 7, 2019
Cruso, NC
They do.
I'm not sure why folks push the fake eggs so hard if you already have layers.
Truthfully I've not had need of them period, chickens just figured it out on their own.:)
I have three nesting boxes for ten hens that are five months old. The hens have been in the coop since they were ten weeks. Never did I see one check out the boxes. They all have fake eggs in them but all but four lay their eggs in the corner of the coop. Four do now get in the boxes to lay.


7 Years
Jun 28, 2014
I've never had external boxes but have used many different kinds of materials for making boxes. When inside the coop, they don't have to have tops on them, just sides and a bottom with a little edge across the front to keep the nesting material and egg from falling out. Currently, I'm using a prefabbed rollout box to prevent eggs from getting broken in the nest. No matter what I use, I have some that still prefer to lay on the ground in the corner of the coop.
Jul 22, 2021
When stacked, what's the height clearance between the floor of lower bin and the bin above? Might be too low but hard to tell without a solid reference for height.

They could be used un-stacked for sure, as long as you put something on the bottom to prevent chicken toes from getting caught in the grid. Something like used feedbags folded to fit would do the trick, and you can toss them if they ever get soiled.
I've got more feed bags, do you cut the bag and use a single layer or both layers from front and back of the bag? If I make small holes with a hole punch to fasten it to the basket, will it fray and fall apart? I have 2 bags so if I destroy 1 I have another to try out. I'm over thinking this like usual lol

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