If you have chickens in your back yard or homestead, having a good nesting box can be important for egg laying. Not always, but most chickens actually prefer laying in a nest box than not. You want to save money, so you plan on building your own. Here’s how to build a chicken nesting box.
You must first consider the size. Most people make the mistake of using nesting boxes that are too big. You figure the laying hens must want a nice, cushy, roomy box where they can stretch their wings, right? Wrong.
They prefer to be in small, confined areas. Our, when they lay outside the coop, usually choose a corner of the compost pile, under the lumber pile, or in a secluded corner somewhere. So when in doubt, opt for a smaller size.
On the other hand, overcrowding your boxes won’t work, either. Figure on two to four hens per box, and opt for more boxes that are smaller in size, rather than fewer boxes that are larger in size. Make your box big enough for a chicken to walk in comfortably and sit without a whole lot of room on either side of her.
Next, decide where you will put your nesting box. Ideally, your chooks will lay their eggs in there, and you will easily be able to collect them from the box on a daily basis. Some people prefer to make doors at the back that can be opened. You can opt to put a roof over the top that is hinged so you can lift it up like the cover of a book.
If you have a large enough coop or run, one where you can enter it yourself, you can put them anywhere, since you will have easy access. Otherwise, you might consider attaching them to an outside wall, so that the nesting box sticks out from the coop. For example, some people attach boxes by cutting a hole in the wire of the coop and sticking the box in that hole, snugly. That way, the chickens have access, and you can just open them from the outside of the coop to collect eggs.
Finally, choose materials to build with. You can use cardboard boxes, plastic boxes, trays or pails, or wood. Keep in mind that cardboard is cheap but will deteriorate quickly. Plastic is also cheap, but it can deteriorate if left in sunlight, so keep plastic in the shade if you use it.
If you scavenge creatively, you can find all sorts of things to make nesting boxes out of. Old furniture drawers will work, as will empty buckets or barrels. Cut the tops off so you are left with a circle with low sides, so the chooks can easily step over to get in. Kitty litter boxes can work (be sure it is new or has no lingering odors.)
Now that you know how to build a chicken nesting box, you can go decorate the girls’ home with gusto. Happy egg collecting!