Nesting boxes are first up in my chicken coop series. They are the most simple out of all the topics I’ll be discussing, and they’re pretty straight forward. Basically, there needs to be enough nesting boxes for a few of your hens to lay at the same time, roomy enough for a broody, and the right bedding material. Ready to dive into nesting boxes?
All about straw
I use straw as the primary bedding in my nesting boxes. It’s relatively cheap, and the chickens love to eat the seeds in it. Straw also is good to use in the winter as it holds in heat as it’s hollow, making it a great option. It doesn’t create dust, which can lead to respiratory illnesses, one of the things chickens are very receptible to.
I’ve never really used pine shavings in my nesting boxes, only when I’ve run out of straw and don’t have time to get more. I just don’t think it’s as thick for the eggs to lay on without getting cracked, and it also takes a lot of shavings to equal a small amount of straw, another reason I never use it in their nesting boxes.
Whatever you do, please don’t use hay. It may seem tempting, but it’s not a good bedding for chickens, or any animal. It’s to green and can harbor bacteria, and again with chickens being susceptible to illnesses, the bacteria can lead to illness.
Another example of a bad bedding choice. Cedar can be toxic to chickens as the oils it contains are too strong. I’ve never used this or hay, or even seen it at my local feed store. I guess even they are getting the hint.
How many nesting boxes should I have?
Moving on from bedding, how many nesting boxes should you build or buy? Nesting boxes are the easy part, as you don’t need many. The general rule is one nesting box for every 4 hens. I’ve noticed that my hens all want to use the same one, and there’s a few they never even touch. They’ll see a hen in the box, see that it’s safe, and want to lay their eggs in the same spot. Even so, plan on enough nesting boxes for your flock. If you don’t have enough or don’t collect the eggs enough, it can lead to nesting box squabbles and egg-eating.
All nesting boxes are generally the same size, but If you’re building your own, I’d recommend making them at most 16 x 16 x 16, but common sizes are 15 x 15 x 15 or 12 x 12 x 12. This gives your hens enough room to move around and get comfortable while laying.
For style, it’s really you and your chickens preference. Some people build box shape, some use boxes without a wall, just the floor part, and some styles have a design. Nesting boxes can sit outside under a bush in the summer as the coop tends to get hot during the warm months. They can also stack on top of each other, or extend off your coop. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure they’re big enough and there’s enough of them.
Nesting Box Decor
Yes! Believe it or not, there is a way to really spice things up with your nesting boxes. If you’re a Pintrest hound like me, you might have already seen the popular nesting box “curtains,” and what’s great is they actually serve a purpose along with being pretty. They offer your hens more privacy while they lay, creating a more relaxing environment, and they are pleasing to see hanging in your coop. You can use scrap fabric from an old project or go purchase some from your local craft store or Wal-Mart. Fabric is pretty cheap per yard, so it won’t cost you much!
Another way to add to you nesting boxes is with herbs in the boxes. The herbs create a soothing environment for your hens while they lay eggs, causing them to be less stressed. For a list of herbs and their benefits, read my Best Herbs for your Chickens and Chicks
I don’t know about y’all but now I’m ready to head outside and get working on my own Nesting Boxes! Be sure to follow my Instagram so you can send me pictures of your nesting boxes! Me and my chickens would love to see them! Until next time!
Dancing with Chickens