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The biggest benefit of raising chickens is that you can get access to fresh eggs on a daily basis. They are also not that hard to raise, making them one of the best livestock of choice for beginners.
Now, if you are planning on raising chickens as livestock, your first question might be how many nesting boxes per chicken?
The answer depends on the size of your flock. But, the rule of thumb is that there should be one nesting box for every 4 birds. The shape isn’t too important, just make sure it has enough room for the hen.
If you are interested in knowing more about how many nesting boxes per chicken are needed, then you have come to the right page. In this article, we will be sharing with you the appropriate number of nesting boxes per chicken and other important information about nesting boxes, so continue to read on.
What is a Nesting Box For Chicken
A nesting box for chickens is a designated area where hens can lay their eggs. It must be secured and welcoming so that the hens feel comfortable laying their eggs. At the same time, it should be designed for easy collection and should be kept away from potential predators.
There are a variety of designs when it comes to nesting box construction. It does not necessarily need to be made with high-quality materials. In fact, repurposed materials can be used for it, and it can be done DIY-style if you want to be more economical.
How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken
There is no one single answer when it comes to how many nesting boxes per chicken. This is because there are some experts who say that the nesting boxes to chicken ratio is 1:5.
Meanwhile, the Five Freedom Guidance says that one box should not have more than 4 chickens so that they can still have proper animal welfare. But according to the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, the recommended nesting boxes per chicken should not exceed 7 hens.
So I would recommend 1 nesting box for 4 chickens
|No. Nesting Box
However, when in doubt, it’s better to have excess nesting boxes than having a shortage. This is because you might experience big problems if your hens are overcrowded inside the coop. Hens who feel like there is not enough nesting box for them are more likely to feel stress, and this can cause them to become later on.
When hens are stressed out, it is difficult for them to recover from it, so as much as possible, do everything you can to avoid it from happening. One of the best ways of doing this is to ensure that they have healthy living conditions.
If you are looking for a good single chicken nesting box (Amazon link) then I can recommend this one as it’s well built and is a good size for a laying hen.
If you have a larger flock then perhaps a triple chicken nesting box (Amazon link) would be more suitable or if you have an even larger flock of chickens then something like this large nesting box (Amazon link) might be better for you
What to Put in Chicken Nesting Boxes
Now that you have figured out how many nesting boxes you should have according to your flock, your next question may be, what are the things that should be inside the nesting boxes.
Any animal’s welfare should always be a priority to you, so what to put in a nesting box and where to put it needs your consideration. The RSPCA state that your nesting boxes need to be enclosed in a quiet area and the boxes should be dry and lined with comfortable nesting material
The following are the essential things that should be in chicken nesting boxes
Nesting box bedding
Hens feel more comfortable laying their eggs if the box lining is soft, so you should “fluff-up their pillow” so to speak. The beddings can be made from sawdust, straw, or wood shavings (Amazon link) if you want economical options.
Another popular option is nesting liners (Amazon link) This makes for a much easier cleaning and the nesting liners and be removed as one piece.
However, just make sure to regularly keep them clean so that the hens do not feel any discomfort. If possible, change them once a week to maintain the sanitation of the nesting boxes.
Reassuring plastic nesting eggs
Plastic eggs or golf balls are also important things to put in a nesting box, especially if it’s newly built. Moreover, hens have higher chances of adding their eggs to an existing clutch, so the plastic egg or golf ball will serve as the “existing clutch.” This will help encourage hens to lay their eggs there and make them build a sense of trust in the surrounding.
I know it sounds strange but adding something like these Nest Eggs (Amazon link) will help your chickens a lot
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth
There is a high chance for the nesting box to be infested by mites and insects since it is exposed to the outdoor elements. But, with food-grade diatomaceous earth (Amazon link) at the bottom of the boxes, this can be mitigated, which is why it’s a good idea to include it inside. This also prevents the boxes from smelling bad and allows the hens to be calmer.
Can You Have Too Many Nesting Boxes
Although it is highly recommended to avoid overcrowding your chickens when it comes to nesting boxes, it is also not a good idea to have too many nesting boxes. This is because there might be a chance that instead of seeing them as nesting boxes, hens might use the space for sleeping and defecating hence defeating its main purpose.
For this reason, It is highly suggested to just limit your nesting boxes to 1 box for every four chickens. So, if you have 20 chickens in your flock, a good number of nesting boxes is 5. This gives them enough space to prevent stress and, at the same time, not too much space that they will think of as a sleeping area.
How High Should a Nesting Box Be
Ideally, nesting boxes should be at least 18 inches off the ground. You can put it higher but just make sure that it is elevated from the ground by a few feet, and it should not be at the same level as your roosting bar. Or else, your hens will use the boxes for sleeping, and they will not be encouraged to lay their eggs.
How to Clean Nesting Boxes
Ensuring the sanitation of the nesting boxes of your chickens should be a top priority to guarantee the quality of eggs and that the chickens in your flock remain healthy. It is highly recommended to remove old nesting boxes during the autumn season around September as soon as the chickens stop using it.
For spring cleaning of your chicken nesting box, you can follow these steps:
- Remove all the dirt inside the box, including the bird droppings, feathers, and other nesting materials accumulated inside.
- Take out your water hose and spray down the boxes. Make sure that all the debris and dirt are gone. If they are stubborn, you can use scrapes and shovels to remove them thoroughly.
- Disinfect the boxes using natural cleaning agents like vinegar. Avoid using chemicals such as bleach because it can seep into the wood and animals such as chickens cannot withstand it.
- Apply the vinegar mixed with water in the box, especially in areas where there is stubborn dirt.
- Rinse out the vinegar and water mixture from the box thoroughly and let it air dry. The sunlight will help with the disinfection process and removal of the vinegar scent.
Aside from cleaning your nesting boxes every springtime, you should also make it a habit to change its beddings once every 10 days or 2 weeks. This will help maintain sanitation and encourage hens to lay eggs.
Figuring out how many nesting boxes per chicken you need is quite simple. Although there are several recommendations, the average number of chickens per nesting box should be between 4 to 5.
If you have too many chickens and too few nesting boxes, it will cause stress on the chicken, resulting in them getting sick later on. Subsequently, if you have too many nesting boxes, your hens might use it for sleeping, so it defeats its main purpose. This is why it is important to have just the right amount of nesting boxes to maintain a good laying environment for your hens.