Unless you want to be looking around everywhere for your eggs, including nest boxes in your plans for chicken coops is an excellent idea. You’ll find some designs – like the small portable chicken tractors – often have them already built in, but others leave the choice up to you, or give various options. following these tips should help you decide which are best for you.
What you want is a sheltered area that your chicken are comfortable to lay in. By sheltered that means even inside a chicken coop it should be a separate boxed off area, shaded if possible to make it darker and again, if possible, away from roosting perches – you don’t actually want the hens to sleep in there because they’ll likely make a mess. 12 inches square is a good size – so your birds can actually stand up if they want to. bigger is better if you’ve got the space.
You don’t need one box per hen, up to 4 birds will normally share quite happily. The box should be lined with straw or wood shavings as nesting material and must be cleaned regularly. If it’s dirty or damp the chicken won’t like it and you’ll encourage parasites – which can be difficult to get rid of once established.
If your plans for chicken coops have one specific type of nest box indicated it’s probably easiest to go with that. Unless you can see a serious flaw, why re-invent things? However if a roof is indicated you certainly want it to slope – otherwise birds will roost there and likely mess up the area.
Boxes can rest on the floor, be raised off it, or be one row above another – your chicken coop design will dictate some of those choices but always bear in mind you want them to be easily accessible, otherwise birds will simply lay on the hen house floor
We’ve mentioned bedding material in passing, and your normal choice of wood shavings or straw is fine. things like newspaper are not a good idea because they absorb liquid too easily and end up as a mashed mess. If you have a large coop, the best nest boxes are probably the kind which are an extension to the shape and allow eggs to be collected from the outside.
If you’re designing your own hen house then the internet offers lots of pictures of what other people have done – although working out exact construction might be a bit of a challenge. On the other hand, a good professionally drawn set of chicken coop plans should have all you need. you may have to pay a few dollars for them but it will be money well spent, saving you time and avoiding expensive mistakes.