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Getting Nesting Boxes Ready - Preparing for Baby Chicks


A Buff Orpington hen in a nesting box

Hens are not particular and will lay their eggs just about anywhere. If you want to keep the eggs safe and have them easier to collect, set up some nesting boxes for your hens. A nesting box is simply a man-made enclosure for hens to lay their eggs in. Here are a few tips for setting up your nesting boxes.

A nesting box encourages hens to lay their eggs in a designated area. They help minimize breakage and keeps eggs safe from predators. How many nesting boxes should you have? According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, have at least four nesting boxes for a small flock of hens (15 hens or less). For your larger flocks, there should be one nesting box for every 4 to 5 hens.

Nesting boxes come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. When choosing materials for your nesting boxes, use supplies that clean up easily such as metal and plastic. Wood is convenient and many people build their nesting boxes with wood, but it can be a bit more difficult to clean. You don't have to make your nesting boxes, you can buy them. Southern States offers nesting boxes that provide a safe, darkened area for hens to lay eggs.

Nesting boxes can be made from supplies you already have around the house. They do not need to be complicated or expensive. The objective is to create a spot where chickens can get to easily that will be comfortable and clean. Make sure your nesting boxes are large enough for your hen to stand in easily. For enclosed nesting boxes, angle the top of the box so the hens can not roost on top. Here are a few ideas for upcycling items you may already have around the house:

  • Plastic or wooden crates
  • Covered or uncovered cat litter boxes
  • Wooden barrels cut in half and stood up on their side
  • 5-gallon plastic buckets, old hospital bed pans, shallow plastic trash cans
  • Old pet carriers

Make the nesting boxes comfortable and cozy for your hens. Line them with material such as wood shavings, straw or even shredded paper. Many poultry experts recommend pine wood shavings. (Avoid using hay because it can become moldy.) Don't skimp on the lining material; hens like their boxes full and fluffy. In order to prevent hens from kicking out the nesting material, a small wooden lip at the entrance to the box is a good idea.

You can purchase nesting boxes, along with all of your poultry supplies, from Southern States. We have the tools you need to succeed in all of your farming and gardening projects. 

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Poultry Care Series

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