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.
Moreover, the limited 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 commercially, the last thing you want to deal with is a decline in egg production.
Because the ideal number of chicken nesting boxes plays a significant role in egg production, having enough of these structures for your chickens is advisable.
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, you want to ensure 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 an ideal number of nesting boxes, chickens 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 permanent nature. They usually stand the test of time. Plus, they’ll provide that haven to secure your eggs for many years.
Reduced Number Of Broken Eggs
If you’ve been raising chickens for some time, you will likely 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 use an ideal number of nesting boxes for each chicken.
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 ensure that your birds’ environs are squeaky clean. An outbreak of disease because of unhealthy surroundings can damage your flock and your business.
Today, most ideal chicken nesting boxes have features that make them easy to clean and maintain.
That way, you can regularly keep your coops clean while safeguarding the health of your flock.
Usually, hens prefer lying in areas that are dark and shady.
The disadvantage here is that the eggs get exposed to predators and the elements. The ideal number of chicken 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 ready, they’ll lay into any structure or enclosure they deem safe and appropriate.
The most important thing is ensuring sufficient nesting materials to prevent eggs from breaking. Still, the three most-favored materials for egg production include metal, plastic, and wood.
Let’s discuss the three materials to determine why they are the most preferred when 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 depending on your budget.
Metal nesting boxes for a chicken coop can be an ideal choice and have many advantages, the key 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 raise them in a very warm/cold climate. This is because of how fast metal can heat up or freeze compared to other materials.
Plastic Nesting Box
Plastic nesting boxes have become increasingly popular because they are easy 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 can be an ideal choice for a chicken coop because they are versatile, coming in all 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 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 specifications for your desired nesting box. You should have it ready in no time.
Wood materials have some disadvantages despite being affordable and easy to work on. 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, 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, bacteria will likely thrive on the residue absorbed by the wood.
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, there may be constant fights if there’s too limited space to accommodate their needs.
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 simultaneously.
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.
You’ll often find your chickens leaning towards one specific box, even when others are available. Depending on the box size, seeing 2 or 3 hens in the same box isn’t strange.
Still, you must provide them with options for the best results.
How big your birds are could determine 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. Smaller breeds, including bantams, wouldn’t mind sharing the same nesting space.
You may even make your nesting boxes much smaller if you only raise 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 others wanting to lay simultaneously. Again, some breeds lay all year round – even in the winter.
This may require you to provide many more boxes, especially if the birds are regularly lying close at the same time.
Tips To Consider When Choosing Nesting Boxes For Your Chickens
For the best results, ensure 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, moisture will easily permeate the box.
Moreover, if eggs break, it’ll not be easy to completely eliminate the watery yolk and albumen.
Consequently, this may lead to pest infestations in 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 much 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 ensure the boxes they lay provide the most optimal 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 with 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 laying an egg, the hen will take considerable 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 must choose a quiet, peaceful location that is a little darker than usual.
More importantly, you should consider placing nesting boxes in areas shielded from the weather and predator-free.
Level Of Placement
One of the problems most chicken keepers face 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 cannot 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 in your flock that love to stick their beaks in eggs, you might want to keep the boxes at a level 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 need to find the ideal height accessible to you and your chickens. Nonetheless, the 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.
Nesting boxes could be placed slightly higher if 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 containing eggs.
So, you may want to place dummy eggs into your nesting boxes. This will tell your hens that laying within the boxes is perfectly okay.
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 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 pick eggs with the bird’s fecal matter. You should, therefore, provide your birds with appropriate roosting spaces. Each bird should take up at least 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 daily. 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, 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 space inside the nesting box should depend on the breed of hens you raise.
Different breeds have different sizes. So, it’s something worth considering when designing or purchasing their nesting boxes.
The ideal nest box size for common chicken breeds such as Barred Rocks or Golden buffs is 14 inches for height, 14 inches for width, and 20 inches for depth.
Smaller breeds like 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 impact 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 you provide your hens with the right nesting boxes for better egg production.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!
Backyard Chickens FAQ