Chicken Nest Boxes are containers that are designed for facilitating the laying of eggs. They are very useful and are quite easy to build, not to mention the room for customisation in terms of both function and design.
Fundamentally, nest boxes are meant to help hens lay eggs. As such, the primary concern should be to design the nest box in such a way that egg productivity is maximised. Generally, you will want your box filled with straw and wood shavings so that hens feel comfortable sitting there. If nothing goes wrong, you should see your desired egg count. In the event that you do not, fret not as here are some tips to improve your next box functionality.
One of the most important things you should do to your nest box is to keep it small. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, you prevent overcrowding, which encourages hens to lay their eggs on the ground. Eggs laid this way tend to be dirty with bacteria and possibly kicked about by other hens. Of course this only reduces survivability and hatching rates.
The main purpose in keeping your nest boxes small is to control the chicken’s space so they have adequate room to feel comfortable but not too much that they physically scratch and kick into your eggs. It is best to keep the space as small as you can by having a box that accommodates three hens or less. A 12” square box should do nicely.
When you construct your nest box roofing, make sure that it is acutely sloped. Some might think that a sloped roof is for aesthetic purposes but the real reason is because you want to prevent hens from laying there. Don’t underestimate these little creatures as they can lay eggs anywhere they like. Discourage them from doing so by keeping the roofs sloped so they can’t just sit down and roost. To increase their comfort level, ensure there is always at least 2 inches of wood shavings. Pine is ideal but straw works too.
Now comes a little gadget installation. Try to connect a chute that will roll eggs from where they are laid to another area to make collection easier. Keep the chute angle low and ensure it drops on a padded surface so the eggs don’t crack on impact. The chute is expected to help keep the hens in a healthy mood too, as manual collection often disturbs their peace and may result in broken eggs.
Alternatively, if you want to save some money on the chute you can simply construct doors that open to the back of where the hens are sitting. By doing so, you also minimize disturbance to the hens. When the doors open, the eggs may just fall off and drop with impact so you need to take measures against that. One way of preventing this is to simply place a small basket below the nest box so that if the eggs fall off, they drop into a padded basket safely. If your nest box is low on the ground, then you should fix a small lip at the back where the door opens to block eggs from falling off.
Here is a link to some plans to build a fancy chicken nest box