If you are going to be building your own chicken coop yourself, then you are probably going to have to build the nesting boxes for your chickens yourself rather than buy them ready-made – although that is an option if you are pressed for time and provided you have the money to spend.
First of all, what actually is a nesting box? Well, it’s nothing more than a dry, dark and warm place where chickens can lay their eggs in peace, quiet and comfort.
If you are building the hen house yourself, you will find that the basic ground rules that dictate the fundamentals of building the areas where the chickens lay eggs in are pretty simple. And they are fairly straightforward especially if you have some carpentry experience. but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily easy. without help, it can be hard and frustrating.
1. the first thing to address of course is the question of what function a nesting box serves? the next logical question that follows then is: where and how and to what size must a nesting area be built and with what kind of material?
Obviously not all the detailed answers to all the relevant questions can be answered completely in an article of this size. but an accurate overview covering the main aspects of the building of the areas where the chickens lay eggs in will sufficiently give a clear picture of how to go about it.
2. first, how many chicken nests are enough? Contrary to popular misconceptions, a single box will actually cater adequately well for up to 4 chickens. There is no need to build a nesting for each chicken
3. how big should a chicken nest be? certainly big enough to provide sufficient standing space for a sizable chicken. That would be a 13 by 13 by 13 cube minimum with one side open to serve as the entrance.
4. Ideally, the distances from the floor to the roof and from the front to the back of the nest should be higher and longer than the sides respectively – about 18.
5. Wood is the material of choice for the construction of both the nest and the rest of the coop. Wood is strong, comfortable and can be made weatherproof by painting it.
6. Soft grass, or straw or better yet, wood shavings from soft wood makes the best choice to use as nesting materials both the chicken nest and the coop floor.
7. It is imperative that the structure of the nest should be made with the roof sloping downwards towards the side furthest away from the main coop. This is done to allow rain, leaves, debris (and even chicken droppings left by errant chickens) to run-off easily since the box juts out and away from the main coop and therefore requires a roof of its own.
8. the roof itself which doubles as the access door for collection of the eggs, should be hinged on the side nearest to the coop to enable it to be easily lifted up and down during the collection of the eggs.
9. next, you will want to ensure that there is an appreciable difference in height positioning between the floor level of the nest and the height of the roosting rods the birds will be perching on overnight. the roosting rods should be a foot or more higher than the floor levelof the boxes to discourage the chickens from wanting to spend the night inside the nests and encourage them instead to perch on the roost.
10. Finally, each nesting box should have a one-and-half-inch high ‘lip’ across the bottom of the entrance to prevent the eggs from accidentally rolling out of the box.