We're an affiliate
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate
Nesting is a natural behavior for chickens. If you rear these birds, you would have noticed. Therefore, nesting should be encouraged to keep the chicken happy and active. Nesting also keeps the eggs safe and easy to collect. But, do I need a nesting box per chicken, or do chickens share nesting boxes?
Chickens share nesting boxes. Most hens are happy to share a nesting box. However, if you have too few nesting boxes, you risk nest wars, fighting, and the possibility of broken eggs. You can also face egg-eating problems in crowded nesting boxes. Experts recommend 4 to 6 chickens per nesting box.
A number of nesting boxes also depend on the birds to some extent as there are different types of birds. Hens have different needs. How do you know if your chickens can share nesting boxes? Do they even need nesting boxes? Learn more in this article!
Do Chickens Share Nesting Boxes
Chickens are social animals. Sometimes, you can have two or more hens that would share a single box, even if there is a free box. However, having too many hens and too few nesting boxes can lead to trouble.
Chickens may become stressed trying to get other options, affecting egg production. Some stressed hens may break and sometimes eat eggs. Hens forced to share an overcrowded nesting box may also start fighting.
If you have heavy layers, you may need more nesting boxes to accommodate the number of eggs you collect. Check these triple chicken nesting boxes (Amazon link) if you need them. Smaller chickens and chickens that don’t lay as frequently as others can get by with fewer nesting boxes. This large nesting box (Amazon link) would ideal in such a situation.
Some of your hens may lay more in the morning and others in the afternoon or evening. Therefore, you may need fewer boxes if you have a mixed laying pattern. However, if all of them were morning layers, you might need more boxes.
Fewer boxes and too many chickens lead to overcrowding. In addition, chickens have individual personalities, breed differences, and environmental factors, affecting the number of chickens to be put in one nest.
I wrote a fully in-depth article answering, how many nesting boxes per chicken? there is a tonne of useful information in there from how many nesting boxes you’ll need to what to put in them, how high they should be and how to clean them. it’s a great guide for you.
Do Chickens Need Nesting Boxes
Chickens can do well without a nesting box. But, it’s always better to provide a nesting box that will entice the hens to lay their eggs in an easily accessible location.
Do chickens need nesting boxes? Chickens instinctively and naturally seek out a quiet and secluded place to lay eggs. If they don’t have a nesting box, it is only natural for chickens to seek out another option on their own. Therefore, you will have to go on an egg hunt every day to collect the eggs.
Most hens do well with a 12 to 14 inches square box. Larger chickens may require a larger box. When the chickens are small, you need the space to be small enough to feel cosy and secure to the chickens and large enough to accommodate two hens that may want to lay simultaneously.
You can also keep the nesting box above the ground, and it will make it much easier to keep boxes clean if it is mounted above ground level. If your hens fly poorly, you might want to build something to help them reach the box.
However, the nesting boxes should be kept at a lower level than the perch, so the hens are not tempted to sleep in the box. That will keep the eggs protected and eliminate some of the messiness from the chickens.
After choosing and mounting up in the desired and appropriate height you want, you might want to include bedding. The bedding should be deep enough to be able to protect the newly laid eggs and prevent breakage from jostling. Wood chips or straws are common nesting materials that work well for this purpose.
Want to learn more about the rather interesting way chickens sleep, but you would be surprised how they do it – find out in this article; How do chickens sleep.
What to Put in a Chicken Nesting Box
Nesting boxes don’t need to be fancy. They can be handmade or purchased as already made. There are a few qualities to consider when buying or building a nesting box.
- It should be easy to clean.
These boxes will be holding your chicken’s eggs. Therefore, it’s only advisable to maintain the necessary sanitary. A clean box will also be more enticing for the hen, who may decide to lay elsewhere if the box is not clean or comfortable.
- Consider using good and comfortable material.
Although good nesting boxes can be made from wood, some materials are harder to keep clean and can harbor bacteria and parasites. It is good to avoid such materials. Choosing metal or plastic helps prevent the boxes from retaining moisture and aids in cleaning.
- It should have a roof or a top.
It is necessary that the box is fully enclosed to provide the hen with a feeling of safety, warmth, and security. It should have a slant roof. A flat roof may encourage roosting or perching on top of the box, which could be messy. Instead, opt-in for a sloping or pitched roof so the nesting box can be kept clean.
Your nesting box should be large enough to accommodate your hens. The size of your chickens will affect the size of the nesting box you choose.
It is essential to set up your chicken nesting box to be convenient and comfortable for the chickens. It makes them active as well as productive.
The best materials to put into a chicken nesting box includes;
- Nesting pads
These are great and important to put in nesting boxes. They help reduce lice, mites, or any blood-sucking insect that can serve as a treat to the chicken. It is also relatively easy to clean. They are soft for egg landings. They can be cut to smaller sizes to fit smaller nesting boxes.
You can check these nesting liners (Amazon link)
- Fake grass
They are easy to clean and can be gotten easily, and you can get them from any store.
- Wood shavings
You can include layers of shavings from woods at the bottom of the nest. They are cheap and easy to access.
Here are some wood shavings (Amazon link) if you want economical options.
Create bedding for the comfort of the chickens. It will help them produce more eggs. The fore-mentioned can as well serve as bedding.
You can include sand in the nesting box; some chickens prefer to nest on the sand.
- Straw or hay
Straw can be included in your nesting box. Although red mites love straw and straws can attract mites. However, straws are nice but need to be changed regularly and at intervals and treated with DE (diatomaceous earth).
Check this food-grade diatomaceous earth (Amazon link) if you are looking for some.
Do Nesting Boxes Need to be in the Coop
Yes, ideally, the nesting boxes need to be in your coop but not compulsorily. Some keepers prefer their boxes outdoors. Hens that are laying away from the chicken coop usually come with their own problems but it’s not impossible to do.
If you keep hens confined in a run, it may be fine to have nesting boxes in the run. But, they are better kept indoors away from brightness and activity that cause the breaking of eggs.
Many poultry-keepers mount nest boxes inside the coop, either set on the floor or attached to an inside wall. This method is one good option, with at least three downsides.
The top of the nest box offers a surface on which chickens can roost and deposit poop all night, although this problem can be prevented if the top of the next is in a slant position.
The coop must also be big enough for you to enter, which will require more of your time and money. Entering the coop to gather eggs can also make your shoes messy with chicken poop.
Nesting boxes are a vital element inside any chicken coop. They can be elaborate or simple, depending on how you want them to be.
Why are nesting boxes Important
A chicken’s instinct is to lay its eggs somewhere safe and dark, away from prying eyes. If they are not provided with this, they will wander off and find somewhere by themselves by nature.
It is not a good idea if your chickens have free range to wander about. It makes collecting the eggs every morning difficult, and there is also a high possibility of missing eggs that you might never find. Your hens and eggs will also be exposed to predators.
Providing nesting boxes in your chicken coop gives your hens somewhere safe and cozy to lay their eggs. It also lets you know exactly where the eggs are being laid. In addition, this method will make collecting them a quick and easy job. Your nesting boxes should be placed away from the feeding station and not underneath the perches.
You can place them in a darkened and quiet area of the coop. Just remember, the roosts should always be higher than the nest boxes to prevent hens from sleeping in the boxes. If your chickens live in a barn or another large space, you can place your boxes in a couple of places so that your hens can have a choice.
Do chickens share nesting boxes? Yes, they do, in fact between 4-6 chickens per nesting box is recommended. although chickens don’t need nesting boxes, it’s always best to have some in the coop. They don’t have to be located there but it’s best for many reasons.