How to Build Nesting Boxes
Nesting boxes help increase the productivity of your hens by providing them with a safe, comfortable and low stress environment in which to lay eggs
Do I need nesting boxes?
Not necessarily, but you will find them very helpful. Yes, chickens will lay eggs on the ground, or wherever they have to if the need arises, but chickens feel safest if they can get into a partially enclosed space. Dimly light and quiet corners are typically preferred.
How many boxes will I need?
Approximately one box for 4 to 5 hens should be sufficient, but interestingly the birds will often select favorite boxes while others may go ignored for no apparent reason whatsoever. The boxes will also come in handy if you wish to allow your hens to reproduce.
How high off the ground should they be?
The boxes don't need to be very high off the ground - anywhere from a few inches to about 3 feet are okay. Everyone has a different opinion. However, if you do place the boxes higher, give them a perch to land on in front of the box so they can easily move in and out. Higher boxes will make gathering easier for you if you have problems bending or stretching.
What do I need to build nesting boxes?
You can easily make boxes, often times even out of scrap 1x4s or plywood depending upon how you want to configure them. And they can be free standing or placed along a wall.
What size should I make the boxes?
Boxes should be appropriately sized to a bird's size. Smaller birds, like bantams, will appreciate having a smaller box. If you have multiple breeds and sizes together, consider boxes of various sizes.
10"x10" is a good size for larger birds, bantams prefer a smaller opening, such as maybe 6" high which will also prevent the larger hens from coming in and bothering them. If you do have birds of different sizes cohabitating in the coop, to make the building process easier for you, you can place a board across the boxes that you want to be smaller, to make it more difficult for the larger birds to enter.
What other features do I need?
In front of all the boxes you will want to place a cross board about 4 inches high. This will help eliminate, although not stop altogether, the birds from scratching out the bedding you place into the nesting boxes.
Line the boxes with non-slip liner and pine shavings. Learn more on the YardTalk Blog.
Keep it Clean
As with all poultry, cleanliness is a necessity. Check nesting boxes daily and refresh bedding or clean liners as soon as needed.