If you’re keeping chickens and enjoy fresh eggs, you may wish to consider building or installing a set of nest boxes for your hens to lay in. While not absolutely necessary, as hens will lay pretty much anywhere, you may find that if you add a nest box to your chicken coop, the amount of eggs your hens lay will improve drastically. Better yet, you will know where to find most of the eggs, and will not have to worry about fighting off the rooster, if you have one. No more having to dig around the entire coop looking for your hens’ eggs!
A nest box is basically just what it sounds like: a box where your chicken can make a nest. These boxes help your chickens to feel more secure, which is part of the reason why installing one in your chicken coop may lead to an increase in egg laying by your hens. You can build them to have either single-occupant nests or you can build them as a sort of community nesting area, but either way you will see more eggs.
One of the great things about nest boxes is that they’re very versatile, and you can construct them from almost anything. Got some wooden crates lying around that you don’t need any more? Some old lockers? An old chest of drawers? An unused refrigerator? The last might be a bit too extreme of an example, but really anything will do with a little bit of conversion work. Chests of drawers are particularly easy to convert, since all you have to do is take off the front part of the drawers, nail the floors in place, and you’re more or less done. Chickens do like to have things to perch on in the front of their nest boxes, though, so adding a small wooden platform for that purpose is often a good idea.
One interesting idea that you can do to your nest boxes is to cut a hole in the side of your chicken coop and install them in that. Then, you can make the back of the nest box a hinged wall which you can raise to get to the eggs without even having to go inside your coop! Of course, if you do this, make sure you add a very secure latch or some other form of predator deterrent. The last thing you want to do is give predators access to where all your eggs are sitting.
It’s also a good idea to put some sort of soft substance in the bottom of your nesting boxes. This will both give the hens a comfy place to lay their eggs, and ensure that the eggs do not crack when they fall to the ground.
Of course, if you don’t feel up to converting or building nest boxes without any sort of help, there are professionally made boxes you can purchase instead. There are also a lot of kits and plans available on the Internet which can make the process a fun project instead of a design headache. Regardless, though, installing a nest box for your laying hens is a great idea and will not only increase your egg counts, but will also help to keep your birds happy and healthy. Of course, the fact that it makes it easier to get the eggs makes it just that much better.