We just built one yesterday with 18"x18" boxes with a flat top so we can add another layer should we need to
Joined: Oct 12, 2012
Location: SE Wisconsin, USA zone 5b
Nice. I was thinking of going bigger but now that I have seen the hens in it I feel that 12" x 12" is enough space. Granted our girls are still young and not fully grown, but yesterday I watched four of them lay eggs in the same box at the same time.
Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Location: northern California
Such a lot of effort, folks! They're hens! All they need is a relatively dark enclosed space. I have never BUILT a nest box in my life. Trash cans and buckets laid on their sides, old mail boxes, wooden crates, even cardboard boxes in a pinch. Unless it's a big aesthetic issue and you're trying to impress someone, why do more?
Alder Burns (adiantum)
Joined: Jan 17, 2013
The 12x12 is ample, you are exactly right. Even our large australorps look small in our 18x18 and the two RIR spend time lying around together in one
I personally very much enjoy projects like building nesting boxes and wooden hutches. I'm proud of being able to put those things together and like salvaging/re-purposing wood from around our farm. Just as I enjoy making my own feeders and waterers out of plastic buckets. I may not care very much about impressing other people but I sure do like impressing myself!
I've been wanting to build nest boxes to put on top of a shelf in my barn. Left to their own devices, the hens are either feeding eggs to our egg-sucking dog, or pooping all over our equipment and hay. I want it nice enough they'll WANT to lay there, where I want them to be!
One hen will be the trend-setter and all the rest will lay their eggs wherever she does. So you really only need 1 or 2 nest boxes, unless you really have a lot of hens. I've had up to 11 all lay in the same spot, which usually means one or two want to lay there while it's already occupied and they'll complain loudly until they get their turn. There a reason they call them bird brains!
Joined: Jan 17, 2013
That's actually an excellent point Ranate! A couple of our hens actually didn't lay until we built the nest boxes (nearly identical to Josef's). Now they all spend time in their and lay there.
From what I read the average is 12 chickens to 3 boxes. I'm sure that's a liberal estimate though. Although their are three boxes in my coop, the 5 chickens lay in the farthest lest while the 3 Guinea hens lay in the farthest right.
The latest nest boxes I have made are from plastic totes...I really like these. I've lined them with cardboard to insulate them from the cold and heat, as they are outside the coop. I would normally have just built some from repurposed items or scrap lumber, but I wanted to try this idea for a coop I was building.
These were designed by cutting the bottom out of the tote, reversing it to use as a door that slides in a frame made of old tongue and groove flooring scraps we had lying around. It worked perfectly! Keeps out the rain and provides easy outside access.
A closer shot of the access door....
Here's one old hen waiting her turn for the "favorite" nest...while the other nest box sits empty. That's the nature of hens, so I just provide two nest boxes for a coop that is housing 9~13 hens. The front of this tote locks into place with the handles, so I used it for the front of the box, to make for easy cleaning out of the nests if needed by simply unlocking the handles and removing the whole front of the nest box. I cut the opening in the shape of an egg out of pure whimsy and for no other reason.