A chicken nest box provides a safe place for chickens to lay eggs. There are different designs, shapes, and sizes available for commercial nest boxes and they can also be built to customize a preferred design. However, it is important to consider both function and practicality to ensure that the nest boxes are conducive for egg laying.
Although chicken nest box designs seem like a no-brainer, they should be planned carefully to ensure that the hen is comfortable and that the eggs are cushioned and protected from the elements. Often, a dip in the production of eggs could be traced to a badly designed nest box. To prevent this, consider the following steps:
Make Sure Hens Have Enough Room.
Chicken farmers often build nest boxes to accommodate more chickens for practical reasons. The problem with this is that a single nest box, although large, can easily become crowded. To find a comfortable area, some chickens may lay eggs on other surfaces such as the floor where eggs could become dirty, contaminated or damaged.
Chickens prefer to nest in smaller boxes. If you can provide a single nesting box for each chicken, that would be ideal. However, a box that could house three to four chickens comfortably should suffice. Smaller nest boxes are also advantageous because chickens like to scratch and kick at the wood shavings or straw. They usually make a mess with larger nest boxes than with smaller ones.
Make Sure Hens are Comfortable.
Provide enough cushioning inside the nest box by layering it with a minimum of 2 inches of wood shavings and straw. If you want to use wood shavings, a good option would be pine.
Chickens like to roost. It’s an instinct they developed to protect themselves. To prevent them from roosting on the nest boxes, make sure the roof is sloped or built at a steep angle. Hens that roost on the roof of the nest box might lay there as well and eggs are likely to roll off and break on the floor.
Keep The Eggs Safe.
It is a good idea to build nest boxes with a lip at the entrance and around to prevent eggs from slipping off or getting pushed out. Lips on the nest boxes will also help keep the straw and shavings in place.
Plan The Collection.
Building egg chutes into the nest boxes is practical for many reasons. Eggs get collected even without human intervention. With chutes, eggs simply roll off the boxes and into a container that you can collect later.
Egg chutes also reduce contact with the hens, thus allowing them to lay eggs without frequent intrusion. Hens dislike being disturbed during the egg-laying process, and are more likely to lay more if they can do so without being bothered.
Building egg chutes is an extra expense and if it is not financially plausible, perhaps building a small door where the rear end of the chickens are facing when they lay eggs will help. A door big enough to fit a fist will allow you to collect eggs from the nests without the chickens seeing you.
To keep the chickens from falling out of the back door, attach a two-inch lip along the opening. This will prevent the eggs from slipping out.
Build a Proper-Sized Nest Box.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all nest box, so build one to ensure that the bird is comfortable. In general, however, a nest box should have enough room for the chicken to stand but be snug enough to keep them cozy. Consider a 12-inch square box that has a height of 9 inches. Create the ideal egg-laying ambience as well by ensuring that the boxes are cool and protected from light. Hens like it most if the nest box is dim or even dark.