If you’re thinking about the right chicken nesting box size for your hens, you’ve come to the right place. After all, nesting boxes play a vital role in chicken raising.
For starters, these cozy spots provide safety for hens and keep eggs in a clean, easy-to-find location. However, knowing how many boxes you need or the best materials to use can be a puzzle for many chicken keepers.
Fortunately, this article is your ultimate guide to everything you need to know about chicken nesting boxes. From building one at home to choosing the right size and shape — all you need is covered here.
Chicken Nesting Box Size
Understanding the size of a chicken nesting box is essential for the comfort of your hens and the success of egg collection. Specifically, small breeds like Bantams require a 12x10x10-inch box, medium ones need a 12x12x18-inch box, and larger chickens are comfortable in a 14x14x20-inch box.
If you happen to own small chicken breeds like bantams, a suitable size for their chicken nesting box is 12 inches wide, 10 inches long, and 10 inches deep. Such proportions ensure that your small hens can lay their eggs without any difficulty.
Meanwhile, the nesting box’s size for medium breeds, like the Ameraucana and Marans, should be slightly bigger, standing at 12 inches wide, 12 inches long, and 18 inches deep.
On the other hand, large chicken breeds, such as the Cochin and Brahma, need the biggest space for their nesting boxes. The ideal chicken nesting box size for these fowls is 14 inches wide, 14 inches long, and 20 inches deep.
The following table summarizes the various types of nesting boxes available for chickens of different sizes:
|Typical Nesting Box Dimension
|Small breeds (Bantam varieties)
|Medium breeds (Ameraucana and Marans)
|Large breeds (Australorp and Brahma)
Overall, the key to making your nesting box is to create a space that’s comfortable for both the hen and its eggs. After all, your top priority should be to help them reproduce in peace.
Chicken Nesting Box Location
A good rule of thumb is to place your chicken nesting box in a quiet and dark corner of the coop. Typically, hens prefer laying eggs in boxes that are in less-populated areas, providing them the privacy and calm they need.
Moreover, you may want to avoid positioning the nest box near the feeding station or under the perches. These are active zones in the pen and can be disruptive to a hen trying to lay its eggs.
Finally, be aware that a chicken nesting box should be placed 18 to 24 inches above the floor. Ensure it isn’t too high for your female fowls to reach.
Back when I started raising chickens, I didn’t give much thought to nesting box placement. I simply set the boxes where they fit best. However, my hens were often restless and seldom laid their eggs in the compartments.
Then I moved the nesting boxes to a more peaceful part of the coop, elevated from the floor — and the transformation was immediate. My hens seemed more at ease and began to use the nest boxes more consistently.
All in all, a comfortable nesting box, rightly positioned, is crucial for successful egg-laying.
How Many Nesting Boxes Are Needed?
As a backyard chicken keeper, determining the correct number of nesting boxes is crucial for maintaining a peaceful and efficient coop. The general rule is that you need one nest box for every four chickens.
Generally, chickens are communal animals — and contrary to what you might expect — they don’t each need a personal nest box. In short, it’s common for many hens to favor the same enclosure for laying their eggs.
However, be aware that overcrowding can lead to fighting over the nesting area, which could result in injuries or even death. To avoid this problem, ensure that there are enough nesting boxes for your hens.
Do All Chicken Nesting Boxes Need to Be Square?
Chicken nesting enclosures don’t necessarily need to be square. Remember that the key factor when designing your chicken nest box is the space within it, not the shape of the box itself.
In raising chickens, it’s important to provide them with a cozy nesting box to lay their eggs. While many poultry keepers might opt for square boxes, this is not a rule set in stone.
Regardless of the design, a well-sized compartment will always be the best nesting box. It should encourage your hens to feel secure and comfortable producing their eggs in it — whether it’s square-shaped or not.
What Materials to Use for Chicken Nesting Boxes
When making nesting boxes for chickens, whether in an outside or inside coop, a range of materials can be used. These include litter boxes, plastic, metal, or wood.
It’s worth highlighting that most chicken keepers lean towards wooden nesting boxes due to their durability and ease of cleaning.
In addition to the box material, you’ll need several other tools and supplies to construct nesting boxes for your chickens.
For instance, a tape measure, pencil, saw, and drill will be required for cutting and assembling the pieces. What’s more, glue, nails, and screws are necessary for securing the parts together.
Similarly, other supplies, like waterproof rubber strips, can help weatherproof the box, and a final layer of water-based paint can add an aesthetically pleasing touch to your chicken nesting box.
What Materials to Put Inside Chicken Nesting Boxes
In general, the interior of a chicken nesting box is equally as important as the exterior. So, for the comfort and health of your hens, the right choice of bedding is essential.
Some popular choices for bedding materials include hay, pine shavings, dried leaves, sand, or sliced paper. These provide a soft, absorbent layer that will help to keep your chickens warm and dry during their egg-laying periods.
Besides these organic materials, you may also consider purchasing nesting pads, which can be conveniently bought from poultry stores.
Common Chicken Nesting Box Problems
Chicken nesting boxes are vital for egg production; however, they can present several issues when not well-maintained or constructed poorly.
Here’s what you need to know about common chicken nesting box problems:
1. Infrequent Cleaning
One problem is infrequent cleaning. Over time, the nesting boxes for chickens accumulate dirt, droppings, and broken egg materials, which creates an unclean environment for hens to lay eggs.
This can lead to fewer eggs being laid and the potential spread of bacterial diseases.
2. Poor Ventilation
Poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of heat and humidity inside the nesting box, causing discomfort for the hen and potentially leading to health problems.
Overcrowding in the nesting boxes can cause stress among your backyard chickens.
While the general guideline is one box for every 4 to 5 hens, if your particular hens feel the compartments are too crowded, they may not use them. This can result in eggs being laid in improper places around the coop.
4. Inappropriate Height
The wrong height of the nesting boxes can lead to problems. If the boxes are too low, predators may find them easily accessible.
On the other hand, if the boxes are too high, some hens may struggle to reach them, causing potential injury or stress.
5. Improper Location
Improper location of the nesting boxes for your backyard chickens can lead to underutilization.
In particular, compartments placed in busy or exposed areas can make your hens feel unsafe, and they may choose not to use a nesting box to lay eggs.
Parasites, including mites and lice, can infest the nesting compartments of your chicken coop. These pests pose a health risk to your female chickens, so make sure the nesting boxes are always clean and dry.
7. Weak Construction
Weak construction of the nesting boxes can lead to instability and potential collapse.
Unfortunately, this may cause injuries to the chickens and damage to their eggs. Therefore, ensure the size of a chicken nest box is appropriately suited to the breed you own.
Sad to say, I once made a mistake with my DIY nesting boxes. In my attempt to save some money, I used thin, lightweight wood, focusing more on the box’s design.
A few weeks later, I was met with disappointment. The nesting boxes began falling apart, unable to withstand the daily use by my flock. I realized that weak construction led to more expenses in the long run.
8. Predator Access
Predator access can be a serious issue for chicken keepers. If the nesting boxes are easy for foxes, raccoons, and hawks to get into, it may result in the loss of chicken eggs or even hens.
9. Lack of Bedding
The lack of bedding or nesting material in the nesting boxes can cause discomfort to the hens and may result in broken eggs.
Always bear in mind that bedding provides a soft, clean surface for the hens to lay their eggs and also helps in absorbing droppings and egg breakages.
10. Inefficient Heating System
An inefficient heating system in the nesting boxes can lead to eggs freezing in colder climates. Too much heat, on the flip side, can make the hens uncomfortable and discourage them from using the boxes to lay eggs.
11. Wrong Measurements
Lastly, it’s critical to remember that the incorrect proportions of a chicken nest box size can affect the comfort of hens and their egg-laying performance.
For instance, nesting boxes that are too small may discourage larger hens from using them. Meanwhile, oversized ones for smaller hens may lack the coziness they seek when laying eggs.
How to Create Your Own Chicken Nesting Box
Creating your own chicken nesting box is a cost-effective and gratifying task. Of course, you can buy it for a fair price, but making one yourself is even better because you can customize it to suit your hens’ needs.
Here is an easy-to-follow guide to chicken nesting box creation:
Step 1: Decide the size of the nesting box
First, you need to determine the size of the chicken nesting box you will build. This primarily depends on your hens’ height, length, and breed.
Generally, shorter breeds will require smaller boxes, while larger breeds will need bigger ones.
A good size for a chicken nest box for medium-sized hens, for example, is typically 12 inches in width, 12 inches in length, and 18 inches in depth.
Step 2: Cut your materials
The next step in your DIY nest project involves cutting the materials. Depending on your preference and budget, you can use either wooden or plastic nesting box materials.
Then, ensure to cut pieces for the bottom, sides, back, and front of the nesting box. However, remember to incorporate your predetermined chicken nest box size when cutting.
Step 3: Assemble the nesting box
Now, it’s time to assemble the box. Begin by attaching the sides to the base using nails or screws, forming a U-shape. Then, attach the back piece to complete the main structure of your nesting box.
Overall, this process will start shaping the nesting area for your chickens.
Step 4: Cut and attach the front piece of the nesting box
Once the main box is assembled, cut and attach a front piece. To be specific, the front of the nesting box typically features a lower height, allowing chickens easy access while preventing the eggs from rolling out.
Additionally, you should make sure that the front piece provides enough room for your hen to enter and exit the box comfortably.
Step 5: Add partitions (optional)
If you’re creating a multiple nest box for your many chickens, you’ll need to add partitions inside the box. These dividers will ensure that each hen has its own comfortable nesting space to lay eggs.
Keep in mind, though, that these additional partitions should align with the size of the box to provide enough room for every single chicken.
Step 6: Add bedding
Now, add bedding to the bottom of the box. One should bear in mind that the common choices for nesting material include straw, shredded paper, dried leaves, hay, or shavings.
Further, it’s worthwhile to guarantee that the type of bedding you choose is non-toxic and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.
Step 7: Install the nesting box to the chicken coop
Up next is installing the nesting compartment in your backyard coop. Basically, the box should be positioned off the ground but accessible for your chickens.
Specifically, avoid placing it too high, as your hens might hurt themselves while attempting to utilize it. Also, ensure the box is away from predators and other hazards that could cause injury or death.
Step 8: Teach your chickens to use the nesting box
Finally, train your chickens to use the nest box by rewarding them with food when they use it. Initially, they may need guidance to recognize it as a place to lay eggs.
Pro Tip: Placing fake eggs or golf balls inside the box can also encourage your hens to start laying in the same box.
In addition to these eight steps, a helpful video is available below for those who are interested in DIY chicken nesting boxes:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Chicken Nesting Box Be Too Big?
Yes, a chicken nesting box can be too big. While you might think more room would be better, chickens prefer a comfortable, secure space to lay their eggs.
Do Nesting Boxes Need to Be High?
Nesting boxes don’t have to be very high, but a slight elevation is generally recommended.
Meanwhile, boxes for larger flocks may only need to be a few inches above the ground, as they can’t fly well and thus can’t be injured by falling from a low height.
Do Nesting Boxes Need to Be Elevated?
In most instances, a chicken nesting box should be elevated approximately 18 to 24 inches from the floor.
This height provides a sense of security for your chickens, encouraging use while keeping the nesting boxes safe from ground-level disturbances.
Did this article make you more comfortable in setting up your own chicken nesting boxes? If you have more questions or tips about the topic, drop them in the comments.