What are some ideas to make free-range nesting boxes? Chicken owners are always on the lookout for new and creative ideas to improve their business. I went about asking poultry farmers to give suggestions, advice, and ideas that can make their flock happy, and productive. And one of the topics that came up was how to easily make free-range nesting boxes for available hens. We came up with different ideas that every chicken owner can adopt to keep their birds comfortable.
The most common ideas that we found to be helpful include the use of wine barrels, buckets, plastic bowls, goose box, and plastic crate nest. All these simple ideas require less money, take less time and effort to come up with fully functional free-range nesting boxes.
As you may know, nesting boxes are not essential for your hens to lay eggs. This is because hens can lay anywhere they feel safe and comfortable to do so. Much to your surprise, these poultry equipment are more essential to you more than your birds.
Free-range nesting boxes will make the task of collecting eggs simple and timeless. Instead of wasting your time looking all over the yard, under the bushes or outbuildings, these simple structures will solve this problem once and for all.
We are going to show you ideas to make free-range nesting boxes for your birds. Before we get to the main ideas, let’s begin with the basics to help you get started with this project.
Ideas to Make Free Range Nesting Boxes
Use of Wine Barrels
Considering the size of your backyard and number of your chickens, you may need a simple nesting box. So, an old wine barrel will become an ideal nesting box for your free-range birds.
- This type of nesting box is easy to construct and will save you some money, not to mention your time. With that in mind, you should start with an unused wooden half wine barrel. It will only take you ten minutes to finish the construction of this unique nesting box. That is if you have the right tools and materials.
- Once completed, it will accommodate up to three of your layers. One of the reasons this simple box is suitable for you is that it will cost you less money but will serve your flock of birds for quite some time.
Bucket Nest Boxes
Buckets can make durable free-range nesting boxes for your layers. Each bucket will have enough space for at least three hens. The good thing about using this type of nesting boxes is that you can fix them somewhere or use them as free-standing in your backyard.
- The bucket nest boxes are the simplest and most innovative designs that you can choose for your free-range hens. On the other hand, you may use the bucket lids to keep the nesting materials inside the bucket.
Use of Plastic Bowls
If you are not ready to spend more money on acquiring nesting boxes then plastic bowls are a better option. These bowls are readily available and you can find them in stores near you at a cheaper price.
- Also, they will not take much of your time when preparing them for your hens. Each plastic bowl nest box will serve up to three layers. Just remember to keep them in a secure and sheltered private place where your hens will access them.
Goose Nest Box
Don’t let the name “goose” mislead you to think otherwise. It is only a name and nothing else more than that. Goose nest boxes are one of the ideas to make free-range boxes for your layers, Even though they are referred to as goose nesting boxes, these simple poultry structures are perfectly designed for your hens. Their A-frame design comes in handy to act as a nesting box for all sizes of layers.
- These boxes are affordable and quick to set up. On top of that, they are portable, meaning that you can install them anywhere within your run. Goose Nest boxes can each serve up to six layers on a free-range.
Another simple idea for making free-range nesting boxes is the use of plastic crates nesting nests. This is another version of simple nest boxes for your free-range layers. Plastic crates nest boxes need very little do it yourself (DIY) know-how.
- This set of nest boxes will serve more than 12 laying hens on a free-range. But the number of these structures will depend on the total number of layers on the run. For that reason, you may add or remove crates to suit the needs of your layers.
What Should you Consider when Making Free Range Nesting Boxes?
Conditions for the Nesting Boxes
- A typical nesting box needs to fulfill some conditions to attract a potential layer. Therefore, the nesting box should be quiet, safe, darkened and private. All these four factors will most likely encourage your hens to lay in particular boxes. This means your hen prefers a peaceful and quiet environment to produce the eggs.
- When it comes to the location of the nesting boxes, you need to think out of the box. Actually, you should place the box in an area that is fairly dark and quiet. Keep in mind that the height of the box should be 18 inches off the ground and some feet high. Make sure that the boxes are not at the same height as the roosting bars. This is meant to discourage your hens from sleeping in the nesting box.
Number of Nesting boxes
- No rule dictates the number of boxes you need for your flock. But most chicken owners suggest that one box should serve three to four hens. Most importantly, ensure that there are enough nesting boxes to serve your hens and make your egg collecting task manageable.
Size of the nesting box
- The size of your nesting box is also another factor to consider when designing these structures. The size goes hand in hand with the size of your birds. For instance, a standard nesting box for birds such as Sussex, Plymouth Rocks, and Leghorns need 12x12x12 inch nesting boxes.
- Larger hens will need boxes that measure 12x14x12 inches to fit them well. Bantam layers, however, can do best with smaller boxes measuring 10x12x10 inches.
- All these measurements are likely to make the nesting box snug. This simply means that if your layers have too much space they will scratch and kick out their bedding materials. Also, more space discourages your birds from bunking up together when laying eggs.
- There are different types of nesting materials that you should know. The most common ones are listed below:
- Straw-these are some of the favorite nesting materials among chicken owners. You can purchase them from farm stores or obtain them from local farmers.
- Pine Shaving-they are readily available and you can find them in most farm stores around you. These nesting materials are usually sold in convenience bales.
- Pine Needles-they come free of charge if you are near a local source. In this case, you should consider the softer and fresh pine needles to make the nesting comfortable for your layers.
- Sawdust-you can obtain this material for free or cheaply from the nearest sawmill.
- Leaves-this type of material is there in plenty, especially in autumn. All you need to do is to rake and gather every fallen leaf and you are good to go.
- Nesting Pads-you can buy them from hatcheries or order online. The most important thing about these materials is that you can wash and use them over and over. In addition to that, they are inexpensive.
- You can use one or all of these nesting materials depending on your choice and their availability. However, you may add some fresh herbs to the nesting materials to deter pests and encourage your birds to relax.
Which materials should you prefer for your free-range nesting boxes? Before you start constructing free-range nesting boxes for your flock of birds, you must consider the available materials. There are different materials to choose from depending on your budget and the type of nest boxes you want to make. Before you make your final decision on the material you want, ensure they are easy to clean and safe for your birds.
What are the common types of nesting boxes for layers? The three most common types of nesting boxes include the metallic, wooden and galvanized steel nesting boxes. All these are designed to make your birds feel safe and comfortable.
At least you have an insight into some ideas to make free-range nesting boxes for your layers. All these tips are based on various factors key among them your budget, availability of the materials and the size of your flock. Take advantage of these tips and improve egg production among your birds.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!