Anyway, that’s probably the main reason why you want to take care of chickens in the first place – the eggs. So, to get eggs, you need nesting boxes. You can buy boxes ready-made, you can buy kits, you can build them yourself, or you can improvise. Your skills and your budget are the two constraining factors. No matter which route you take, you have to keep in mind some facts about chickens nesting.
Let’s examine the qualities of a good nesting box situation:
Number – A rule of thumb is that four hens probably won’t mind sharing one nesting box. Hens are on their own laying schedules and it will be rare that two will want the box at the same time. If you have the room, two birds per nesting box would be best.
Size – The bigger the livestock, the larger the nest box. If you care for a variety of species, keep your largest females in mind as you prepare or purchase boxes. There should be only a couple of extra inches all around once the hen is inside, so your nesting boxes should be about twelve inches square and about 18 inches deep. Too much extra space will encourage your layers to spend too much time in the box which usually means more poop to clean. Or it will allow them to move around too much, thus kicking out nesting material or eggs.
Configuration – The top of the box should have a steeply slanted roof. Otherwise, the chickens will probably use the top for a roost which will lead to an unsightly and unhealthy accumulation of poop and possible fouling of the nests below.
Ideally, the nest box will have an entrance for the hen (the front) and access to the nest (the rear) for egg gathering. The front would be open, the rear would have a door that opens from outside the coop.
This is the ideal set-up. Some folks don’t mind gathering the eggs from the front, but this often means going into the coop itself. Each box should have a lip of an inch or so at the front to keep the nesting materials and eggs within the box. A roost should be placed in front of the boxes to make getting in and out easy for the hens.
Location – Chickens like to lay their eggs in protected spaces somewhat away from the general chicken flock shenanigans. The boxes should be hung above the floor of the coop, but not higher than the general roosting rods. The elevation will make the eggs easier to gather, but should not be so high as to encourage the chickens to sleep in the boxes. They should prefer the higher roosting rods for their naps.
Bad Habits – Are your eggs overly soiled when gathered? Do your nesting boxes fill up with poop? Are eggs cracked or pecked? Are your hens laying eggs on the coop floor?
All of these are signs that the hens either don’t like the nesting boxes, or that the boxes are too large, or that some other aspect of your nesting boxes needs changing to correct the unacceptable behavior or less than desirable circumstances.
Following the pointers presented here should prevent any of this. Bad habits or not, your nesting boxes should be very easy to keep clean so you’ll have clean eggs and healthy birds.
These tips should put you well on your way to outfitting your coop with nesting boxes. Soon you will be gathering those wonderful eggs your hens will give you in exchange for your hospitality. You can bank on that.
On the Internet, you can find tons of different types o ready-built nesting boxes, kits, building plans, and ideas for improvising. Nesting boxes can be made of everything from plastic to particle board. One site shows how an enterprising soul made very functional chicken coop nesting boxes out of an old chest of drawers.
Getting these details right is important if you want to get lots of eggs and keep your chickens happy. And if you want more information about chickens and chicken coops, download my free report, “Top 7 Chicken Coop Mistakes,” which will help you avoid potentially fatal mistakes made by many newbie chicken raisers.
You can find it here at http://www.mysnazzychickencoop.com/free-report/.