How Big Should a Chicken Nesting Box Be?

How big should a chicken nesting box be? How high should a chicken nesting box be? And how many hens per nesting box should there be?

If you’re new to chicken keeping, you may not realize how important a nesting box is…until you start finding eggs in unexpected places!

But that’s exactly why we’ve written this article – to guide you through everything you need to know about chicken nesting boxes.

Let’s get to it!

Average Chicken Nesting Box SizeChicken Type
12” by 12” and 18” in depthMost chicken breeds
14” by 14” and 20” in depthBrahma, Cochin, and other larger breeds
12″ by 10″ and 10″ in depthBantam varieties

P.S. If you’re in the market for the best chicken nesting box, check our review instead: The 4 Best Chicken Nesting Boxes For Your Backyard Chickens

What Size Should A Chicken Nesting Box Be?

Average nesting box dimensions are 12 inches by 12 inches and 18 inches in deep. This is equivalent to 30 cm by 30 cm and 45 cm in deep.

If you happen to have large chickens such as the Jersey Giant, Brahma, or Cochin, you should use nest boxes for larger chickens. The recommended chicken nesting box dimensions for large chickens is about 14” by 14” and 20” in depth.

This is equivalent to 35 cm by 35 cm and 50 cm in depth. For bantam chickens, on the other hand, you can slightly reduce the dimension.

When keeping a mixed flock, make sure to build many nesting boxes fitting to the largest hen size.

For further information, find out how chicken connoisseur, John Suscovich, prefers his nest boxes by watching his 2-minute video on the topic. 

How Many Chickens Can Share A Nesting Box?

The answer to the question, how many nesting boxes per chicken, varies according to each flock.

That’s why while many chicken keepers recommend 1 nesting spot for every 4 to 5 birds, others suggest 1 nest box per 3 to 4 birds.

However, that doesn’t mean you should have one nesting area in your coop. You provide a means for all hens, regardless of breed, to stand, stretch their wings, and lay eggs (1).

The division of large flocks into smaller, separate colonies is important to help keep the birds in manageable groups and well spaced throughout the house, with adequate access to facilities such as water, feed and nest boxes.

If you are unsure of what’s best for your flock and coop, we recommend you set up 1 box for every 5 birds and leave some space or an extra area for a few more in case your flock needs them.

However, don’t be surprised if your hens have an almost unanimous preference for only one or two nest boxes, as this tends to happen a lot!

Where To Place Nesting Boxes In The Chicken Coop?

While some favor putting the nest box right on the ground, others opt for placing their nest boxes at the height of one or two feet off the ground.

Where should you place the nests? The answer becomes obvious when you look at where the nesting boxes are placed in the best chicken coop kits.

chicken and eggs in a coop

Well, if we are to examine this question from a hen’s perspective, the ideal nest location should be dark, quiet, and private so they can lay their eggs without any interruption or stress.

Chickens’ will intuitively search for a nesting spot that, above all else, appears to be safe, and these three factors are paramount to that feeling of safety.

If you’re concerned about your chickens flying over the fence and finding somewhere else to nest and lay their eggs – your nesting boxes may not be the issue. Find out more here

Chickens don’t like to be disturbed when they’re laying eggs… and your job is to provide nests in the perfect laying corner where no one can disturb them.

In my opinion, raised boxes provide a quieter and more concealed spot, in contrast to those installed directly on the ground. Then again, this will depend on your judgment.

Bear in mind that, when raised, nest boxes should be positioned at least 18” or 45 cm from the floor and can be as high as 24” to 48” or 60 cm to 120 cm.

Just remember that roosting poles should always be higher than the boxes to prevent your flock from roosting on the boxes, as this would lead to dirty nest boxes, and therefore, dirty eggs! If you don’t have a roosting perch, you should make it a priority because hens love elevated perch (2).

For those looking for the best way to build a coop, check out our list of chicken coop plans and building tips.

Final Thoughts

Size is only one of the factors you should pay attention to when building or buying a nesting box for your little egg-laying engines. Feel free to take a look at our complete guide to Bantam chickens if it’s a breed that’s right for you.

Remember that setting up the right number of nesting boxes, choosing where to put them, what to put in them, and how to build them are other crucial elements if you want your backyard chickens to lay eggs in peace.

Are you thinking about DIY plans for the boxes in your coop? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below… and, of course, please share!

FAQs

You can stuff your chicken nesting boxes with bedding material such as wood shavings, sawdust, shredded paper, or leaves. Some even use grass clippings – just make sure your lawn isn’t treated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc., if you choose this option! (Sidenote: If you’re looking for a new reel mower, check out our reviews of the best models here.) Those of you who are willing to clean your nesting boxes and nesting areas often – around every 1-2 weeks – you can use pine shavings, hay, or straw.

Yes, a chicken nesting box can be too big. Although it seems a great idea to provide your backyard chickens with big nesting boxes, you shouldn’t. A large nest can invite two or more chickens and squeeze themselves into one box. This can be problematic if one of those hens starts to lay eggs – you don’t want to wake up to broken eggs! A big nest also means that the chicken could kick out the bedding material.

To prevent them crowding, all you need to do is have several nesting boxes in the right size. But, make sure that the nesting boxes are spacious and comfortable enough for your backyard chickens. You should also have chicken nest boxes that are easy to clean and accessible for egg collection.

It is not okay for chickens to sleep in the nest box. Hens, including roosters, need to roost to feel safe. Plus, they tend to poop while they sleep. Unless you want to get eggs covered in poop, you should have a separate site or an area for them to roost. One way to avoid them sleeping inside the box is opting for nesting box designs that are free from any part (like the handle) that they could perch on. If the laying season is over, but some of your hens are still laying, you can store the vacant or extra boxes.

  1. RSPCA welfare standards for laying hens. Retrieved from: https://science.rspca.org.uk/sciencegroup/farmanimals/standards/layinghens
  2. Perch use by laying hens in a commercial aviary. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988547/
chicken nesting box

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