One of the first things you’ll want to do when planning and putting together your backyard farm is to ensure you have some nesting boxes for your ladies.
While they aren’t 100% necessary for your flock, nesting boxes will drastically reduce the time you spend searching for eggs, and it’ll also make them feel safe and secure, which improves laying rates.
Similar to feeders and waterers, there are many different options for your chicken nesting boxes. You can buy them at a store or build your own! We know how popular DIY backyard farming is so we’ll give you a plan for one later on in this article.
Best Nesting Boxes
The best nesting boxes are mostly for your benefit, not your chickens. Of course, your chickens will need a comfy space to lay their eggs, and ensuring the boxes you pick are safe and secure will go a long way.
With that being said, the best ones will benefit you, in the long run, more than your ladies.
One rule of thumb for your nesting boxes is to have the back of them facing outside the coop.
You may want to build your coop around the nesting box so that you don’t need to cut a big hole into the coop at a later date to fit one in.
This is because egg collection will be so much easier. Imagine having to crouch down into the coop each time you want to collect eggs (sometimes more than twice a day depending on your flock size).
Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that any nesting box you buy or build is easy to assemble. Spending days on a nesting box will likely be a waste of your time when there are many plans online or boxes on the market that can have you up and running in as little as an hour.
See below for our picks!
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your nesting boxes are durable and up to the test of time. If you’re buying online, a small nesting box for up to 10 chickens can set you back more than $100.
These costs can add up if you purchase a flimsy model and have to replace it once a year.
If you’re not too worried about the money side of things, we’d recommend this nesting box from Best Nest Box.
This model is simple to set up and a coop can very easily be built around it for ease of use. Eggs will roll out of the back or the front of this nesting box depending on how you set it up, meaning you’ll won’t ever have to reach underneath a laying hen. They can get a bit snooty sometimes.
Chicken Nesting Box Size
How many nesting boxes you’ll need per chicken varies depending on the size of your birds, but your best bet will be to make sure your boxes are 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches.
This should give your ladies more than enough space to lay their eggs and ensure they’re comfortable at the same time. If they are uncomfortable in the nesting box, they’ll look elsewhere to lay.
One of these boxes will suit around four hens, so if you have more than four in your flock, you’ll want to build or invest in a bigger model.
Most flocks we come across at Mile Four tend to have around 12 chickens, so you’ll want to have three or four nesting boxes set up if you fall into this category.
Below we’ve provided a handy chart so you can see how many nesting boxes you’ll need for your coop!
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Chicken Nesting Box Ideas
The best DIY nesting box plan we’ve come across at Mile Four is from MyHomesteadingProject on YouTube!
They used old milk crates to build their own nesting boxes in the coop.
The best way to succeed with this method is to cut one of the sides of the crate off, leaving an opening for your chickens to hop inside and lay their eggs.
Below we’ve provided a graphic to help you build your DIY nesting box!
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People have used newspaper for the same purpose, but a chickens’ nails will tear through it when they’re kicking around (and they definitely will).
Of course, this isn’t the easiest method for egg collection, especially if you’re hoping to collect the eggs from outside the coop.
If you’re adamant about doing that, there will be some more DIY involved.
Where your milk crates line up against the coop, you can cut some square holes and create some doors with hinges and a lock to easily open and close them whenever you collect eggs.
If you want to get creative and build these egg collecting doors, you’ll want to cut two opposite sides of the milk crate off for easy egg collection.
Alternatively, you can build a full-sized door in the coop so you don’t have to crouch every time you want to enter. All of this is covered in our Ultimate Coop Guide!
As you can see, there are plenty of options for you for nesting boxes for your backyard chickens. If you’re planning on DIYing your entire farm, nesting boxes are probably one of the easiest things to take care of, but also one of the most vital for your sanity once you start egg collection.
If you have any tips, tricks and nesting box ideas, comment on this post or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morning Chores has a collection of helpful DIY plans for you.
Backyard Poultry has some creative solutions as well.