Posts tagged Hen Nesting Boxes
Three Hens A Nesting

Three Is Not A Crowd People always ask me about their hens and nesting boxes. How many nesting boxes to build for their number of hens. Why are all their hens using the same nesting box. Why does my hen lay her eggs outside and not in her nesting box. What are the best measurements for a hen's nesting box.

My response to everyone is borrowed from a wonderful framed poster I use to have of a colorful caricature of a big sassy reddish brown hen with the saying, "The sun has a right to set where it wants and so may I add as a hen." I use to interpret that poster as "follow your bliss in lIfe" and "be true to yourself."

Since I've experienced the wonderful world of backyard chickens for the last ten years or so, I realize that poster literally captured the essence of a happy laying hen. They naturally do their own thing, when it comes to laying their eggs.

Reaching into VintageGardenGal archives, I have written a detailed previous post on "Backyard Chicken Coop", "Nesting Boxes", with hen to nesting box ratios, measurements, ideal setting, and nesting box suggestions. However, when it come down to the personalities of your hens, they are literally going to lay their eggs where they please.

In general, if you provide a quiet clean side of your coop, protected from bright daylight sun, with nesting boxes slightly off of the chicken coop floor, your hens are naturally going to gravitate to a nesting box, and lay their eggs for you easily and effortlessly. Sometimes there is a favorite nesting box that your hens will prefer. Sometimes they will want to have a party, and all lay together in the same box. The point is with laying hens, just about anything is normal.

You might even have a hen that has a tendency to brood, a hen's natural way of incubating an egg by sitting on an egg(s) for days on end.  If  a hen has a healthy fertilized egg, and she sits on it faithfully for 21 days, she will hatch a chick. Hens can have brooding tendency  with or without a rooster in the flock, and without fertilized eggs. It is called natural maternal instinct.

Hens work for very hard to lay an egg. Give them the freedom to lay where they like. Please share if you have any funny egg-laying stories from your flock.

"Backyard Chicken Coop", Nesting Boxes

Hen Nesting Boxes Hen nesting boxes are a way of organizing your hens and their business of egg-laying. If you do not provide nesting boxes, you could find eggs everywhere as if you were at an "Easter Egg Hunt". You wouldn't know where they were laid, or how fresh they were.

Organize your chicken coop with nesting boxes on one side, inside the chicken coop. Hens will inately seek a nesting box to be quiet, and finish the process of laying their egg. Nesting boxes afford them a quiet, clean space to relax, and lay their egg undisturbed..

I have six nesting boxes in my chicken coop, in two rows of three. The first row is mounted off of the chicken coop floor at 18", and the second row begins at 36" off of the chicken coop floor. My nesting boxes are a little larger than is necessary because I have the room and my chickens are the larger, heavier breeds. In the photos, my nesting boxes are 16" wide, 14" deep, and heights at 18" high and 12" high, respectively.

Julia In A  Nesting Box Laying An Egg

Make sure your nesting boxes are secured to hold the weight of several hens. A minimum size for nesting boxes is 12"w x 12"d x 12"h. If you have the room, make your nesting boxes a little larger for your hens. Nesting boxes can be make out of plywood. I have seen vintage metal hen nesting boxes, that come as one piece or row, at flea markets. The nesting box is open on one side where the hen enters and lays down. Create a little lip on the front of each nesting box so the hen has something to grip on when entering her nesting box, and to prevent eggs from rolling out.

Dry fresh bedding consisting of straw or pine shavings will be comfortable for laying hens, and keep their eggs clean and secure until they are collected. Rotate bedding out on a regular basis to the manure box, for instance, or your compost pile. Hens do not normally dirty their nesting boxes, but clean out any manure droppings, or if an egg has somehow cracked and broken open in the nesting boxes. Broken eggs can attract ants.

Nesting Boxes Positioned Off Of Floor & Along One Side of Coop

Each hen does not lay at the same time, so you do not need to provide a nesting box for every single hen. A rule of thumb I like is to provide at least one nesting box for every 3 hens in your flock. Sometimes you might have a few social hens using one nesting box together. Also, you might find you have a clutch of eggs in one nesting box that several hens have used, one after another.

If you like, you can even track your egg production by writing in a notebook or a journal how many eggs per day you collected, and any other observations. Try and follow a routine for yourself and your hens, by collecting your eggs about the same time each morning or each evening.

Collect your eggs every day from your nesting boxes, either with a nice somewhat insulated basket or even with recycled egg cartons. Be careful not to "clang" your eggs together. Freshly laid eggs are remarkable. They come complete with an invisible protective coating from the hen that keeps them fresh. For that reason, you should not wash or rinse your eggs, unless they have a bit of manure on them. Collected eggs are ready for your refrigerator to keep until you are ready to eat, cook, or bake with them.

"Backyard Chicken Coop", Intro

Our Hollywood Girls, Julia, Lucy, Thelma, Louise, and J.Lo Since I started writing about our chickens, there has been a lot of interest and questions on how to care for them. What are the components of a good chicken coop, and what kind of environment provided makes for healthy, happy, chickens. I think that many potential backyard enthusiasts would like to have chickens, but don't know what all is necessary to provide for them. I hope that I can clarify that for you.

Late spring is probably your best time to start with chickens, and is probably the best selection of various breeds available at feed stores, and by mail order. Spring days continue to get longer and warmer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, unless you want to provide heat, and extra protection for chicks, it is easier to start with young pullets (hens) who are 2-3 months old. At this age, you can see their feather markings as to what breed of chicken they are, and they will start laying in another 3-4 months. You have a chance to bond with them when they are young, and they have a chance to get acquainted with their new home and surroundings before the business of egg-laying commences.

I thought all of this information might be best presented in a series of posts, called "Backyard Chicken Coop", covering such topics in detail as the hen nesting boxes, the night roost, the manure box, the actual chicken coop, the adjoining outside pen, and even the embellishment of the chicken coop with plants and vines.

Chickens are so much fun, and a joy to have! If you already have chickens, and a chicken coop, and would like to share your stories and ideas, please feel free to comment.