If you’re raising chickens for eggs, then there’s no way you can do without nesting boxes. But, how many nesting boxes per chicken is ideal?
It’s not always an easy answer. But, as a rule of thumb, you should provide at least one nesting box per 3 to 4 hens.
Anything less than this number may lead to unpleasant consequences.
Too many hens for just one or two nesting boxes can lead to fights.
Even worse, boxes could get overcrowded, leading to eggs getting broken.
What’s more, the limited options of nesting boxes available for hens may constantly stress them out.
Stressed hens will lay fewer eggs than they should.
If you’re raising your birds on a commercial scale, the last thing you want to deal with is a decline in egg production.
Because chicken nesting boxes play a significant role in egg production, it is advisable to have enough of these structures for your chickens.
Benefits Of Using Nesting Boxes To Raise Chickens
For chickens, laying is a natural behavior. There’s not much you can do about it.
Chickens can lay anywhere and everywhere, of course.
But, if you’re raising them primarily for their eggs, then surely, you want to make sure that your eggs are safe and easy to collect.
A quality nesting box is going to last for many years on end without replacement. Raising chickens isn’t always an easy task.
So, having one less thing to worry about should readily be embraced.
Without nesting boxes, your hens will lay anywhere they deem fit. This means you’re sometimes going to have a hard time finding eggs.
If you’re extensively into egg production, any lack of orderliness might cost you big time in sales.
Nesting boxes are much more reliable because of their enduring and more permanent nature. They usually stand the test of time.
Plus, they’ll provide that haven to secure your eggs for many years to come.
Reduced Number Of Broken Eggs
If you’ve been raising chickens for some time, you’re likely to have had your fair share of dealing with broken eggs.
While the phenomenon isn’t entirely avoidable, you can reduce its occurrence massively. You can do so through the use of nesting boxes.
Most times, eggs break because of where the hens lay them.
Nesting boxes with good nesting/bedding materials will ensure the safe landing of eggs during laying.
You always want to make sure that the environs of your birds are squeaky clean.
An outbreak of disease because of unhealthy surroundings can be damaging to your flock and your business.
Today, most chicken nesting boxes are equipped with features that make them very easy to clean and maintain.
That way, you can regularly keep your coops clean while safeguarding the health of your flock.
Usually, hens prefer laying in areas that are dark and shady.
The disadvantage here, though, is that the eggs get exposed to predators as well as the elements.
Nesting boxes will help kill two birds with one stone.
They’ll not only shield the eggs from predators and bad weather.
They’ll also provide a means of privacy for your birds when they need to go into isolation to lay.
Chicken Nesting Box Requirements
There’s no hard and fast rule about the type of nesting box you should provide your chickens.
When they’re ready, they’ll lay into pretty much any structure or enclosure they deem safe and appropriate.
The most important thing is to make sure you have sufficient nesting materials to prevent eggs from breaking.
Still, the three most-favored materials when it comes to egg production include metal, plastic, and wood.
Let’s discuss each of the three materials to find out why they are the most preferred when it comes to designing and constructing these structures.
Metal Nesting Box
Currently, there are numerous designs of metal nesting boxes on the market.
These structures come in different shapes and sizes to choose from depending on your budget.
Metal nesting boxes have many advantages, the key among them being their professional appearance.
More importantly, metal nesting boxes will save you lots of time and effort when it comes to their cleaning and maintenance.
Even though they’re durable and stylish, metal nesting boxes are expensive compared to wooden types.
In addition, these structures are not a good choice for your chickens if you are raising them in a very warm/cold climate.
This is because of how fast metal can heat up or freeze as compared to other materials.
Plastic Nesting Box
The reason why plastic nesting boxes have become increasingly popular is because of how easy they are to clean and install.
These materials require you to use a few screws here and there, and you are good to go.
Plastic nesting boxes are quite versatile, coming in all manner of shapes and structures.
Some, you may be able to place mid-air.
Others, you may be able to keep on a surface. It all depends on the nature of your coop.
Wooden Nesting Box
Wood is probably the commonest material used in making nesting boxes for backyard chickens.
The main reason why the majority of the chicken owners prefer wooden nesting boxes is because of cost as well as ease of use.
You only need to visit a nearby lumber yard and submit the right specifications for the nesting box you want.
You should have it ready in no time.
Despite being affordable and easy to work on, wood materials do have a few disadvantages.
First, wood is porous and will more likely absorb any form of fluid that comes into contact with its surface.
Take, for instance, the white and yolk from a broken egg.
Once the fluid from broken eggs gets absorbed by the wood, chances are the smell of an egg may attract predators and ants to the nesting box.
A scenario that isn’t ideal in the least bit.
Even more frustrating, chances are that bacteria will thrive on the residue that was absorbed by the wood.
The presence of bacteria in nesting boxes could spark a wide range of health-related problems for your flock.
How Many Chickens Should Be In A Nesting Box?
Chickens are very social. And hens won’t mind sharing one nesting box.
Still, if there’s too limited space to accommodate their needs, there may be constant fights.
This may translate into higher levels of stress and in turn, reduce egg production.
However, you should note that it’s highly unlikely for all your chickens to be laying at the same time.
So, as we’ve mentioned, one nesting box will be okay for about 3 to 4 chickens.
Thus, if you have about 12 hens, 3 nesting boxes should be fine.
Often, you’ll find your chickens leaning towards one specific box even when there are others available.
Depending on the size of the box, it usually isn’t strange to see 2 or 3 hens in the same box.
Still, you must provide them with options if you want the best results.
How big your birds are could be decisive in how many boxes you make available.
If you’re raising larger chickens, you might need a box for every 3 birds.
For normal-sized hens, a box for every 5 birds will be sufficient.
Much smaller breeds, including bantams, wouldn’t mind sharing the same nesting space at all.
You may even choose to make your nesting boxes much smaller if you’re only raising bantams.
That way, the boxes become more comfortable for the birds.
Certain chicken breeds are naturally hostile. Others, though, are more sociable and friendly.
If you’re raising both groups of chickens together, you might want to provide more nesting boxes than you usually should.
More territorial birds might not want to share their space with the others.
So, that extra box might come in handy for the others that may want to lay at the same time.
Again, some breeds lay all year-round – even in the winter.
This may require you to provide a lot more boxes, especially if the birds are regularly laying close to the same time.
Tips To Consider When Choosing Nesting Boxes For Your Chickens
For the best results, make sure your nesting boxes are compatible with the criteria below.
You want nesting boxes that make it hard for the moisture to infiltrate them.
If your nesting boxes are porous, then moisture will easily permeate the box.
What’s more, in the event of eggs breaking, it’ll not be easy to completely get rid of the watery yolk and albumen.
Consequently, this may lead to the strike of pest infestations among your beds.
Because of this, metal and plastic boxes are preferable to wooden boxes.
Ease Of Cleaning
When choosing a nesting box, you’ve got to ensure it can be easily cleaned.
Chickens generally will defecate into nesting boxes.
This will likely make the nesting material a whole lot messier than it should be.
It may, therefore, become necessary to clean your nesting boxes a lot more than you might love to.
As a result, you want a container whose cleaning and maintenance won’t stress you out.
Thus, when buying or choosing your nesting boxes, inspect them thoroughly to ensure they’re easy to clean.
The nesting boxes you choose should exude a sense of comfortability.
Laying eggs isn’t necessarily a fun activity for chickens.
So, you want to make sure the boxes in which they lay provide the most optimal level of homeliness and solace.
For the most part, this will have to do with the nature of the bedding/nesting material you use.
Still, you want to exercise good judgment in selecting boxes that have excellent structures to keep your hens comfortable.
Where Should You Place Nesting Boxes?
The location of nesting boxes is an important factor to consider.
Indeed, it is fairly easy to determine the exact location where your hens will lay eggs, provided that you guide them accordingly,
Here are a few things to consider when looking for the most ideal location.
When it comes to laying an egg, the hen will take a considerable amount of time and effort to accomplish this task.
Because of how tedious the task is, unfavorable conditions may induce enough stress to make it impossible for the hen to lay even when the time is appropriate.
For instance, if the chickens constantly feel threatened where they are, they may not give off their best when laying.
Consequently, you need to choose a location that’s quiet, peaceful, and a little darker than usual.
More importantly, you should consider placing nesting boxes in areas that are shielded from the weather and also predator-free.
Level Of Placement
One of the problems faced by most chicken keepers is the presence of predators.
To prevent predators from interfering with the well-being of your flock, you need to find the best level at which to place the nesting box.
That way, predators will not be able to easily access the eggs or hens.
Also, choosing the right level for the nesting box will help eliminate cannibalism among your hens.
If you have one or two chickens within your flock that love to stick their beaks in eggs, you might want to keep the boxes at a level where these cannibalistic chickens can’t reach.
You’ve got to ask yourself if the nesting box is easily accessible by your laying hens and yourself.
However, accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean placing the nesting box on the ground.
You simply need to find the ideal height accessible to you and your chickens.
Nonetheless, the most ideal height is a knee-high one.
This height places the eggs in a safe position away from the prying eyes of predators and bored hens.
This height will also make it easier for you to gather the eggs.
Regardless, nesting boxes could be placed a little bit higher as long as a chicken can access them.
The good thing is that hens can jump at considerable heights that enable them to reach their nesting boxes.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Do Hens Use Nesting Boxes?
Hens can use the nesting boxes at any given time of the day.
But, they’ll do so only if they are ready to lay eggs. It doesn’t matter what time it is, though.
So, you may find your hens occupying their nesting boxes in the morning, afternoon, or even evening.
How Do I Get My Hens To Use Nesting Boxes?
All you need to do is to complete the task of providing a quiet, secure, and conducive environment to place the boxes.
Thereafter, your hens will find their way into the nesting box that suits them.
More importantly, chickens are more inclined to lay in boxes that already contain eggs.
So, you may want to place dummy eggs into your nesting boxes.
This will communicate to your hens that it’s perfectly okay to lay within the boxes.
What Materials Should I Place In The Nesting Boxes?
Good nesting materials may include pine shavings, wool, straw, or hay.
You may also opt for nesting pads. These are plastic, very comfortable, and washable too!
Should I Allow My Chickens To Sleep In The Nesting Boxes?
No! You shouldn’t allow them to. Chickens poop an awful lot.
If you’re going to allow them to sleep in the nesting boxes, it’s only a matter of time before the nest attracts flies.
Moreover, you don’t want to always be picking eggs that have the bird’s fecal matter over them.
You should, therefore, provide your birds with appropriate roosting spaces. Each bird should take up a minimum of 1 foot on a single perch.
Also, provide perches that are high enough for your birds.
Chickens love to roost where they know they can’t be reached by predators.
How Many Times Should I Clean Nesting Boxes?
If you’re raising hens that lay regularly, you should inspect your boxes for eggs every day.
You should, thus, clean the nesting boxes as and when they’re dirty or contain fecal matter.
The last thing you want to see happen is the presence of rodents in your nesting boxes.
So, make sure to keep them neat. Hens also love to lay in clean boxes.
More importantly, make sure to check and clean off any dirt/poop from the bedding material.
Once every month, you should change the bedding material for a fresh one.
How Big Should Nesting Boxes Be?
The amount of space inside the nesting box should depend on the breed of hens you are raising.
Different breeds have different sizes. So, it’s something worth considering when designing or purchasing their nesting boxes.
That said, the ideal size of a nest box for the common breeds such as Barred Rock or Golden Buff is 14 inches for height, 14 inches for width, and 20 inches for depth.
Smaller breeds such as bantams will feel uncomfortable in large nesting boxes.
So, it is important to consider suitable measurements for their sizes.
Given that they are miniature versions of most chicken breeds, it will be wise to provide them with nesting boxes measuring 10 by 10 by 16 inches in height, width, and depth respectively.
Most chicken keepers agree that one nesting box is enough for up to three hens.
If there are too few nesting boxes, fights may erupt and the increased stress levels may have an impact on egg production.
On the other hand, if there are too many, it’ll give the birds the green light to turn extra nesting boxes into places to sleep or roost.
With that in mind, ensure that you provide your hens with the right number of nesting boxes for better egg production.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!
Backyard Chickens FAQ