When you start raising chickens and getting everything set up in your chicken coop, a common question you may have is how many nesting boxes per chicken is necessary.
And even though it’s pretty likely that your hens are all going to want to share the same boxes I’ll go over what’s recommended.
If you already have hens I’m sure you have discovered that hens love to share the same laying boxes, often at the same time even haha!
Pretty much on a daily basis I will have two hens laying in one nesting box at the same time, with multiple boxes free.
They just seem to want the same box and I don’t believe there is anything you can do to break them of it.
But either way, it’s good to at least have the proper space recommended for hens to lay.
How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken
A good rule of thumb is to provide one nesting box per 4-6 hens.
But even if you only have a few chickens I’d say at least have two boxes minimum.
Currently I have 40 hens and 8 boxes and they all seem to lay in only three boxes.
Here and there they spread out and will maybe use five of the boxes, but I’ve never had a day where I’ve collected eggs out of of all 8 boxes.
So if you notice the same thing amongst your backyard chickens don’t worry, hens are just great at sharing space haha!
Chicken Nesting Box Requirements
There is really no set requirement on what you have to use as a nesting box.
Hens will pretty much lay in anything.
You can use wooden nesting boxes, metal nesting boxes, milk crates, etc.
Then just make sure you have a good nesting material like these nesting pads so you won’t have broken eggs and they will be easy to clean.
If you have your chickens free range I’m sure you’ve found a hidden pile of eggs in the bushes or between hay bales at some point.
When hens have their choice they like to lay in safe dark places.
This article here will give you all the information you need for setting up your boxes, Chicken Nesting Boxes: All You Need to Know.
Quick Tips for Good Nesting Boxes
- Have 4-6 nesting boxes per chicken or 2 minimum if you only have a few hens.
- The dimensions should be about 14 x 14 x 14 inches so that larger breeds will be able to fit no problem. But 12 x 12 x 12 inches should work perfect for most chicken breeds.
- Fill the boxes with good nesting material.
- Keep the nesting material clean by cleaning your chicken coop often.
- Make egg collecting a daily habit. Collecting your eggs frequently helps keep them cleaner and you’ll have less broken eggs.
- Put your boxes below your chicken roosts which will encourage the chickens to use the roosts and not the boxes as a roosting area since chickens prefer to use the higher areas in the coop to roost.
- If you’re building your own nesting boxes, make the top of the boxes slanted so that chickens can’t stand on top. This will keep the boxes cleaner since they won’t be able to stand on top and poop.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.) How to build chicken nesting boxes?
When I built my boxes I used plywood for the boxes and 2 x 6 boards for the legs.
2.) How many nesting boxes do I need for 6 chickens?
Even though it is recommended to have one box per 4-6 hens, if you have 6 hens I would have a minimum of 2 boxes.
More won’t hurt anything, the hens will just likely share 2-3 boxes anyways even if you add more hens to your flock.
3.) How to stop chickens from pooping in their nest box?
This may be one of my biggest pet peeves in the chicken coop because when hens lay their eggs in a box with chicken poop your eggs get dirty right away.
This means you either have to add new nesting material into your boxes daily or prevent your hens from pooping in there all together.
Which sounds like it should be easy but not always!
Typically if chickens don’t sleep in the nesting boxes there won’t be any poop in them. So the key is to keep them from sleeping in the boxes.
The most effective thing I have found to do is make sure the chickens have plenty of roosting space. Which should be about 1 foot per chicken, and make sure the roosts are higher than your boxes.
4.) How high should the boxes be?
Boxes should be at least one foot off the ground to prevent other critters from getting in the boxes, but no higher than 3 feet.
Any higher can make it difficult for some chickens to get in.
5.) How to keep chickens from sleeping in the nesting box?
The best thing you can do is provide your chickens with plenty of roosting space and make sure the roosts are higher than the boxes.
Chickens prefer to go to the highest area to roost which is their instinct way of being safe at night.
6.) What to put in the nesting box?
This post here will talk all about the nesting material I like best: The Best Chicken Nesting Material.
But a few good options are:
The problem is that hens like to toss out nesting material no matter what you use.
So I like to put the nesting pads in all of my boxes and then top them with pine shavings so that the nesting pads last even longer.
Are you just getting started with raising chickens or thinking about getting some for the first time?
If you are thinking about getting chickens for the first time I have a great article to help you out. Check out How to Get Started With Raising Chickens.
Or if you have chickens and want to learn all about raising them, I have an ebook! Check out Raising Chickens for Beginners.
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