Best Chicken Nesting Boxes
One of the more important features of your chicken coop has to be the nesting boxes. I mean, why are we raising these girls anyway? Well, OK, we also kind of like having them around, don’t we? But being able to tell your friends and family how many eggs your hens are producing helps you justify having your flock. It also justifies buying that automatic coop door, those heated waterers, and maybe also that more expensive, organic, non-GMO, produced in the US, handcrafted artisanal feed? (I’m not even going to mention those chicken swings , chicken xylophones, and chicken tutus you probably already bought your ladies.) Nope, I’m not going there…Well, maybe just a little…
Now, on the subject of nesting boxes, on the one hand, they need to be available when needed, comfortable, safe, and private for your hens. Just like when you sit down to… you know… On the other hand, it should make your life easier when it comes to collecting those eggs. Unless you are truly into going on an Easter egg hunt every morning? (Oh look, I see one! Its under the truck!).
Lets break down some of your more important questions about nesting boxes so that you can make an informed decision about this critical part of your coop.
How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken?
Good question! The rule of thumb here is one nesting box for every 3-4 chickens. You can get away with less, but you also may end up going on the easter egg hunt described above.
As Cory Waldal points out in her blog Backyard Chickens HQ (if some of your hens are morning layers where as others are evening layers, you can get away with less boxes.
What is the Best Chicken Nesting Box Size?
Another rule of thumb, here: 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. Essentially, a one-foot cube. If you’ve got bantams, you want your nesting box dimensions to be a little smaller, like a 10-inch cube. They should be cozy but not tight.
What About Nesting Box Height?
This is an easy one. You want your chicken nesting boxes to be high enough off the ground so that the other chickens aren’t just wandering around in it wily-nilly, stomping on your beautiful eggs. But you want it to be lower than the lowest roost in the coop. Otherwise, you’ll find chickens spending the night in them. Kind of like a private room versus a dorm room. And you know what that means? Yup, instead of collecting eggs in the morning, you’ll be collecting poop!
Do Chickens Care About Privacy When Laying?
Yup! Hard to believe but you will find that simply putting a small curtain over the opening to your chicken nesting boxes will make them much more appealing to your chickens. As an added bonus, a curtain might just keep more of the bedding in the box, since it will be harder for your chickens to kick it out of there.
Should I buy Galvanized Chicken Nesting Boxes?
And being made of steel means it won’t crack in the cold (like plastic ones). Or rot in the wet (like wooden ones will).
What About Wooden Nesting Boxes?
Some people like the aesthetics of wood nesting boxes. They don’t care if they are heavier and not quite as durable. I get it. They like the “old school-ness” of it.
In fact, there are so-called vintage nesting boxes for sale on Ebay and other websites. These are re-purposed nesting boxes that have a nice heirloom feel. People use them as part of their home “farm décor” in many ways, eg, curio cabinets, coffee tables. Oh, and by the way, they are cheaper than the other types of nesting boxes.
What About Plastic Nesting Boxes?
Nothing wrong with plastic nesting boxes either. They are super durable. They are usually not free-standing but instead need to be screwed onto the wall of your coop. Some people will even hang them up outside the coop, for example on a nearby tree, wall of their house, etc.
Note that these boxes are “one-holers”. I have not come across multi-unit plastic chicken nesting boxes. These types of nesting boxes might therefore not be the best choice if your flock is large. (Unless you are into doing alot of installations, eg, you are looking for any excuse to get out of the house!).
Is Chicken Nesting Box Bedding (Chicken Bedding) a Thing?
It sure is. What, you thought your hens were going to be happy laying eggs on a cold piece of steel? Aside from the obvious requirement that this bedding be comfortable and soft enough to protect your eggs from cracking, there are other features you should consider before making that purchasing decision. How about that it be absorbent? So that it absorbs that poop and keeps your eggs clean. Or that it doesn’t create alot of dust? And that its cheap!!! You can obviously use the same material that you use for your the rest of your coop but most chickenistas (and chicken “husbands”) prefer special bedding for their nesting boxes.
Straw is a popular choice. Mainly because of the low cost. Like $5 per bale. The problems is that it will absorb moisture easily, providing perfect breeding grounds for molds and parasites. Just make sure you change it out frequently. You know when you need to do it if you are already using it in your coop: when you have to hold your breath while you clean out the coop (or when you notice your eyelashes beginning to curl from the stench of the poop).
Pine shavings are becoming a top choice for nesting boxes. It smells good and you don’t have to change it out as frequently as straw. Most chicken owners will use a litter box rake to regularly go through the shavings to separate out the poop. Like what you do for your cats!
Nesting pads are the latest and greatest invention for lining nesting boxes. They are getting rave reviews from owners who say that they are very absorbent, that they provide great cushioning for eggs, and that they are very easy to clean (simply by shaking them out.).
Each pad will last about 3-4 months or so, then you will need to throw them out, or compost them. (They are made out of Aspen wood ) . The downside is cost. They run a little over $2 a piece. Maybe a small price to pay for convenience.
Check out our chicken nesting box comparison table below:
Best Small Nesting Box
Best Large Nesting Box
Best Wooden Nesting Box
Best Plastic Nesting Box
Duncan's 4 Hole Standard Chicken Nest
Brower 410B 10-Hole Poultry Nest
Precision Pet 7029288 Triple Nesting Box
Miller 4 Pack of Large Wall Mount Egg Nesting NEST Boxes