What is a nesting box?
A nesting box is a box inside the chicken coop for the chicken to sit in while laying eggs. Typically, it is open on one side for the chicken to come in and out. You can improvise a box from something you already have, or you can build one from scrap wood. Here are some of the things you need to think about when you are going to make a nesting box for your chicken. The nesting box is lined with wood shavings, shredded paper, or straw to cushion the surface–the egg can break when it hits the bottom of the hard box if you do not provide a cushion.
- The box should be clean and dry, with pine wood shavings or straw in the bottom. Some people use a plastic tray, litter box, or cardboard in the bottom of the nesting box to make it easier to replace the wood shavings or straw.
- If you have a small flock of 3 hens, they can all share the same box. Chickens don’t lay their eggs all at the same time.
- A size of one foot on all sides is usually large enough–you want the chicken to fit in the box easily. Some chicken keepers report that if the chickens can stand up inside their nesting box, they are more likely to eat the eggs, or scratch so that the straw lining ends up outside the box.
- A lip at the front bottom of the box will give the chicken something to jump to before climbing into the box, and it keeps the shavings/straw in the box, and also keeps the eggs from rolling out.
- If you put a sloping top on the box, this will prevent your chickens from sleeping on top of the nesting box. Since chickens poop a lot while they sleep, this creates a mess directly under wherever they roost, so it is a good idea to think about the design of the overall chicken coop.
- If you make your nesting box, use a plywood that exterior grade, and do not use paint or stain on it.
If the time is an issue for you (as it is for many of us busy people these days!), or you don’t know how to build a nesting box, then it is possible to find chicken nesting boxes for sale, and purchasing a box such as one of the ones shown below may be an attractive option for you to put straight into your chicken coop :
Where do I put a nesting box?
Usually, the box is 1-2 foot off the ground, but some people simply put the box on the ground.
Since chickens tend to roost (sleep) in the highest location inside the chicken coop, you want the nesting box to be lower than the “roost” you provided for them to sleep on. When you are designing your nesting box, think about access for you to collect the eggs. At the very least, you want the box to be close to the door where you enter the coop, so you do not have to walk far across the dirty (think chicken poop) floor to get your eggs.
And for a really deluxe chicken keeping experience, put a hinged door on the back of the nest box, and make it so you can open that door from outside the coop so you do not even have to walk inside. Now that is the easy life with pet chickens. If you opt for this “backdoor”, add a small lip to the bottom of the back entrance of the nesting box–otherwise, you could lift the hatch for the egg collection, only to have it fall out onto the ground!
How do I clean a nesting box?
You want to regularly replace the straw in the nesting box so that the box is clean and dry. If your chickens poop or otherwise soil the nesting box, or in the rare event that an egg happens to break, you will want to clean the box immediately to replace the lining material. The nesting box can be lined with straw, sawdust or shavings, or you could consider these clever nesting pads – they’ve been really popular with some chicken owners :
How often do I collect the eggs from the nesting box?
You want to do this treasure hunt to collect your fresh eggs at least once a day.
You will get to know your chickens and how often they lay, and you can predict when to check the nesting box each day.