Topic Options
#88994 - 04/19/10 06:12 AM Nest Box Design
Chickie Poo Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/29/05
Posts: 179
Loc: Virginia
I have a question about nest boxes. We are on our second coop that was built about 4 years ago this summer. It's working except for the nest boxes. We have four exterior mount nest boxes, but they always pick two out of the four boxes, leaving the other boxes empty. It's usually the two center ones, but it varies day to day. The problem is we end up with some broken eggs.

My husband is thinking of redesigning the nest boxes. Would it be better to have two large nest boxes? Do you think that would help with the broken egg problem by giving them an area to step to before laying? The boxes right now are 12 inches x 12 inches x 15 inches.

We originally had a small lip, with the boxes about 16 inches off the floor. Because of egg eating, we had to place a barrier up a bit higher, raising the lip to 22 inches. This prevents them from seeing the broken eggs, because once they see them, they descend on the nest and break the other eggs. If they can't see them, they don't do that. But we still have the problem of broken eggs--not many but enough to be a pain. Would the larger boxes help with that, or is it not worth making the change?

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

#88996 - 04/19/10 06:17 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: Chickie Poo]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
One or two fake eggs in each nest will spread the laying around. You can make them by filling blown eggs with plaster of Paris, or you can buy them. They'll also help deter the egg eaters that will find them unbreakable.

#88998 - 04/19/10 08:35 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: IPF]
Rogo Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 12/05/03
Posts: 469
Loc: Arizona
Folks use all kinds of things for nest boxes. I've always used large, covered cat litter boxes. They sit on the ground. I fill them with Bermuda hay, and the hens rearrange the hay to their liking. I always find eggs in all six boxes.

Aside from fake eggs, I've also heard of using golf balls. Some use the colored plastic Easter eggs after they eat the candy. I'd think those would break, but then I've never used them.

My birds' egg shells are very hard and don't break easily.

The road to success is experimenting.

#89001 - 04/19/10 10:16 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: Rogo]
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8501
Loc: Montana
Egg eating is a habit and not the norm for a flock of layers, unless shells are thin, then it is just too easy.
(Feed oystershell free choice. Don't mix it with their feed to help hens make strong shells).

Darkened nests help keep egg eaters from their snacks, which they have learned are very nice (like potato chips or candy for kids). I use grocery store cardboard boxes for nest boxes. (They might have to be tacked to a wall to keep from tipping over, depending upon where they are located.) I cut a hole in the side of a suitable sized box, line it with Barley straw, and close up the top. It is darkened, which hens like. It can be dumped after a hen sets and hatches or if there are mites or if it is just dirty. I keep my eye open every trip to the grocery store for employees unloading the suitable sized boxes--to get them before they are flattened. But if they are the right size, I will tape them together again.

Hens really like to lay in the same nests--climb into a warm nest-warm egg--just like our climbing into a warm bed on a cold night. Having lots of nest boxes to choose from will not change that natural appeal. If boxes are not too large, a second hen cannot easily get in, and if she can't wait, she will take another box.

Plastic eggs don't break, and either those or golf balls will help the egg eaters from stealing your bounty! Good luck, CJR

#89008 - 04/20/10 03:09 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: CJR]
Foehn Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1974
Loc: New Zealand
Hens can be really picky about nest boxes. When we built our new coop, we opted for an exterior communal box with plenty of hay in it. The silly hens were stacked on top of each other because it was "first in, best nest" apparently. We ended up putting a partition in the middle, so the boxes are still very roomy, but they cannot see each other any more, which seems to suit them. Two of the pullets go back to the old coop to lay, but they lay on the floor. It has a deep bed of dried avocado leaves on it. They completely ignore the two nest boxes in there. Because they lay on the floor, I have to go "fishing" for the eggs with a tin on a stick as it has a lift up lid, and the floor is out of arms reach for me.

#89061 - 04/23/10 04:33 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: Foehn]
Wieslaw Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3844
Loc: Denmark
Last year I bought two sets of professionally built nests (4 places, 2 stories) with holes in the bottoms, so the eggs disappear into a drawer after being laid. I must admit it was the least popular type of nest I ever had. Only one hen out of three or four would decide laying there and then only on the upper floor. The rest would run around for hours looking for "another option," eventually laying the eggs on the floor or outside the coop. Then I filled the two places on the lower floor with straw. All the hens moved down.

#94466 - 02/12/11 06:32 AM Re: Nest Box Design [Re: Wieslaw]
Welshman Offline

Registered: 01/10/11
Posts: 38
Loc: Wales UK
I used these. Easy to get hold of (Ask any farmer after the winter is over).

Easy to clean and you can adjust the size hole you cut in them for different size birds.

Please be aware that the lip at the front needs to be lower if your hatching under a broody, as the chicks once out can't get back in.


Moderator:  Admin @ The Coop, Moderator2 
Who's Online
0 registered (), 73 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Shout Box