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!
What Size Should A Chicken Nesting Box Be? (And Other FAQs)
What is the standard size of chicken nesting boxes?
Average chicken nesting box dimensions are 12” by 12” and 18” in depth. This is equivalent to 30 cm by 30 cm and 45 cm in depth.
If you happen to have large breeds such as the Jersey Giant, Brahma, or Cochin, you should use a nest box size for larger chickens – that 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, dimensions can be slightly reduced.
When keeping a mixed flock, make sure to build nesting boxes fitting to the size of the largest chicken.
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 nesting boxes per chicken? How many chickens can share a nesting box?
The answer to the question, how many nesting boxes per chicken, varies according to each individual 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.
If you are unsure of what’s best for your flock, we recommend you set up 1 box for every 5 birds and to leave some space for a few more in case your flock needs them.
Don’t be surprised, however, if your hens have an almost unanimous preference for only one or two nest boxes, as this tends to happen a lot!
Take a look at Tilly’s Nest experience with this curious chicken behavior of placing all their eggs in one basket.
Where to place nesting boxes in the chicken coop?
While some favor putting them right on the ground, others opt for placing their chicken nesting boxes at a height of one or two feet off the ground.
Which should you choose?
Well, if we are to examine this question from a hens’ perspective, the ideal nest location should be dark, quiet, and private.
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 your concerned about your chickens flying over the fence and finding somewhere else to nest - your nesting boxes may not be the issue. Find out more, here.
Chickens don’t like to be disturbed when they’re laying… and our job as chicken keepers is to provide the perfect laying corner in a peaceful area within the coop.
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 own judgement.
Bear in mind that, when raised, 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 placed higher than the boxes to prevent your flock from roosting on the boxes, as this would lead to dirty boxes, and therefore, dirty eggs!
For those of you who are looking for hen house schemes, check out our article on DIY Chicken Coop Plans: Ideas and Tips on How to Build the Perfect Chicken Coop!
To build or to buy? Getting you started on how to build chicken nesting boxes
You can decide whether to build or buy by answering one key question:
Do you have enough time to build the chicken nesting boxes?
Don’t forget that every step of the building process will demand your time.
That is, you’ll need to spend time choosing the right design, getting the necessary materials and tools, constructing the boxes and, lastly, installing them in the chicken coop.
If your answer to this time-related question is yes, then go ahead and inspire yourself by checking out these 50+ Surprising Chicken Nesting Box Ideas or watch Swedish Homestead’s way of building homemade chicken nest boxes… a good reference on how to build chicken nesting boxes.
When building your own nesting box, however, remember to also make it functional for yourself.
Unsure of building your own?
Don’t sweat it, because there are plenty of ready-made nest boxes on the market. Our top 2 picks are:
What do you put in chicken nesting boxes?
You can stuff your chicken nesting boxes with 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!
For those of you who are willing to clean your nesting boxes often – around every 1-2 weeks – you can use hay or straw.
If they’re not cleaned frequently, however, these materials can become moldy and, consequently, detrimental to your hens’ health.
Bottom line – The many dimensions of a chicken box
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, to find a breed that's right for you.
Remember that setting up the right number of boxes, choosing where to put them, what to put in them, and how to build them are other crucial elements you need to take into account.
Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below… and, of course, please share!