Chicken nesting boxes are one of the most important additions you can make to your backyard chicken coop. So if you are looking to buy the best chicken nesting boxes, this guide is for you!
Why you need chicken nesting boxes
If you have been keeping backyard chickens, then your chicken coop needs one important component: a nesting box.
A nesting box is an area where your chickens lay their eggs. Most chicken breeds lay eggs between 20-24 weeks of age, although some may start laying as early as 17 weeks.
So, ideally, you should prepare a nesting area for your flock before that. Nesting boxes are readily available on the market but some enthusiastic DIY-types also make their own.
Here are the benefits of keeping chicken nesting boxes:
- They provide a private, dark, and comfortable space for your birds to lay their eggs.
- They make it convenient for you to collect the eggs. You can design your boxes so that they slope outwards outside the coop. This way the newly laid egg rolls towards you, thereby facilitating egg collection.
- Well-designed, compact, and wall-mounted nesting boxes free up floor space inside the coop giving the birds more freedom.
- Nesting boxes curb egg-eating by the chickens. Chickens sometimes eat eggs out of boredom or even while competing with each other. Well-designed boxes make the eggs roll away from where the hens cannot reach them. This deters egg-eating.
- The boxes can also protect eggs from raccoons, snakes, and other predators.
The 10 Best Chicken Nesting Boxes
1. Brower Poultry Nesting Boxes
Brower poultry nest is one of the top-rated, best-selling chicken nesting boxes (according to popular retail websites).
It comes in three different sizes, namely 4, 6, and 10-hole. Brower nest boxes have a removable tray for easy cleanup and they are also easy to assemble.
You do not need a rivet gun for assembling them; a screwdriver is all that you need. The manufacturers have taken care to ensure that there are no sharp edges that could hurt the birds.
Galvanized steel material also prevents rusting and corrosion. These chicken nesting boxes are equipped with ventilation holes for adequate airflow.
- Easy to put together and assemble; does not need rivet gun.
- Value for money
- Easy to clean and collect eggs
- Comfortable for larger hen species
- Nests can be staggered. This facilitates easy passage for the hens between tiers
- Galvanized steel prevents rusting and corrosion
- Although the company assures folded edges, some users reported extremely sharp edges. So, be careful while assembling.
2. Miller Manufacturing Chicken Nesting Box
Miller Manufacturing chicken nesting boxes are made using high-quality polyethylene resin which makes them extremely sturdy, durable, and easy to clean.
The material also makes them resistant to rot, rust, and corrosion.
- Sloped roof deters perching and roosting, resulting in cleaner eggs
- The sturdy polyethylene material is resistant to corrosion and rusting.
- It can be easily wall-mounted to free up space inside small coops.
- Easy to install and clean
- Value for money
- The owner of a Chicken Sanctuary has called Miller boxes the ‘Best chicken nesting box you can buy!’
- Some hens refused to use these boxes.
3. Rite Farm Products 6-Pack Washable Nesting Boxes
Rite Farm Products 6-pack washable nesting boxes are made from heavy-duty plastic.
Their design is specially made for wall-mounting. They even come with an egg-shaped opening for easy egg removal.
- Easy to install
- Large and spacious to accommodate different species and sizes of birds
- Value for money
4. Ware Manufacturing Wooden Chicken Nest Box
If you like wooden chicken nesting boxes, then you will love the ones from Ware Manufacturing.
They are completely assembled and ready to use and are also made in the USA.
- Hundreds of happy customers and top reviews on popular retail sites
- Can be used for rabbits as well as chickens
- Available in two sizes
- No assembly needed
- Sturdy and durable
- Value for money
- Tend to crack, splinter, and fall apart after a while.
- Too small for certain breeds
- Have stickers glued on them which can be harmful to rabbits and chickens if ingested.
5. Rent-A-Coop Roll Out Nesting Box
Rent-A-Coop is known for its attractive chicken nesting boxes.
They are made with rust-proof metal and come with a sloped roof that deters birds from perching over them. If your hens love privacy while laying eggs, then you are going to love the curtains provided in the Rent-A-Coop roll out chicken nesting boxes.
- Curtains provide privacy and they also deter egg-eating
- The slope of the boxes is adjustable (you can choose the slope based on your eggs’ size and weight)
- The nesting box comes with a polyethylene bedding pad that is washable and deters bacterial growth
- Easy to assemble and clean
- Cheaper than most nesting boxes of a similar kind
- The connection points between the metal and plastic parts are not sturdy and tend to break off while cleaning
- The plastic tray is slippery, causing the birds to fall or flail their wings while getting in
- Poor air-flow
- Certain panels are razor-sharp
- Difficult to hang; somewhat heavy
- Some users reported that their chickens did not use them at all
- Slanted roof discourages roosting but chickens can still stand and poop on it
- May not stop all egg eaters.
6. Homestead Essentials Roll Out Metal Chicken Nesting Box
Homestead Essentials roll out chicken nesting boxes come in different compartment sizes so you can easily buy a product based on the number of birds you have.
The hinged collection tray in the front catches the eggs from which you can easily collect them.
The rust-resistant galvanized steel and attractive green plastic lids make this a beautiful nesting box for your backyard chicken coop.
- The no-perch slanted roof design deters the birds from sitting atop the boxes and pooping over the eggs
- Removable, ventilated laying tray for easy cleanup
- Simple assembly
- Great value for money
- The instructions for assembly could have been simpler
- Some species of birds might find these boxes too small. This could end up cracking the eggs
7. Harris Farms Chicken Nesting Boxes
Harris Farms chicken nesting boxes come in one, three, four, or six-pack sizes.
They are made with rust-resistant, galvanized metal. There is a removable metal insert at the bottom to facilitate easy cleanup. The folded edges with ventilation holes keep your chickens comfortable.
- Easy to clean
- Attractive and comfortable for the chickens
- Difficult to assemble and put together; instructions provided are not clear and several holes did not line up
- Sharp edges could hurt the chickens
8. Petmate Precision Nesting Box
Petmate Precision nesting boxes come in the single, double, or triple box design.
They are made from wood and can be used inside or outside the coop.
- Easy to assemble and clean
- Looks attractive
- Good size
- Discourages nest sharing and egg-eating
- Sharp edges need sanding to prevent hurting the birds’ feet as they enter and exit the boxes
- Some users had difficulty lining up the screw holes and grooves which cause the bottom piece to fit incorrectly
- Not durable; some units broke within a few months of use.
9. Roll-Away Community Nest Box
If you have several birds, this community nest box is for you.
It is a large box with a rollaway egg tray for easy collection. The design also ensures clean, mess-free eggs.
This 48-inch box has a capacity of 45-60 hens. Each box is also reversible which allows you to collect the eggs from inside or outside the coop.
In addition, each box is lined with polyethylene resins in grass-like configuration to prevent bacterial growth.
- Eggs roll out nice and clean
- Deters egg-eating
- Compact yet comfy
- Easy to clean
- Easy to assemble
- Comes with its own nesting pads that are washable and durable
10. Duncans Poultry Chicken Nesting Box
Duncans Poultry is a US-based firm and these 10-hole chicken boxes are proudly made in the United States.
They easy to assemble, come with vented sides for air-flow, and have fold-up perches for the birds to roost.
- Easy to clean
- Spacious and comfortable for the birds
- Sturdy and long-lasting
- Difficult to assemble; needs a riveting gun for assembling.
Types of material used for making chicken nesting boxes
Wood is the classic material for nesting boxes. Wooden chicken nesting boxes look attractive, are compact, and usually easy to assemble.
On the downside, they could be quite a chore to clean up. In most cases, a deep-cleanup of the boxes is necessary only once a year. Another disadvantage of wooden boxes is that they provide hiding places for bugs, insects, and mites.
It is a good idea to paint the wooden chicken nesting boxes using non-toxic paint or milk-paint.
This will prevent the wood from absorbing moisture and swelling up and will also keep bugs away. You can even use linoleum lining inside the boxes to make cleanup easier.
Metal is another great option for nesting boxes. It does not provide hiding places for mites and bugs like wooden boxes so you do not have to paint them or worry about them cracking, swelling, or warping.
Metal nesting boxes are easier to clean, sanitize, and disinfect.
Plastic chicken nesting boxes are made from sturdy polyethylene resin which is durable, attractive, and also very easy to clean, disinfect, and sanitize.
Plastic boxes do not provide hiding places for bugs and mites. However, depending on their design, they could take up more space as compared to traditional wooden boxes.
Plastic boxes are more resistant to bacteria although they could gather mold and mildew if not cleaned from time to time.
Styles and designs of nest boxes
There are many different options in the styles and designs available for your chicken nesting boxes.
Roll-away nest boxes
This is a good design for chickens that have turned egg-eaters. The egg rolls away from the hen into a specially designed slot which is difficult for the hen to access but easier for humans to collect the eggs from.
Some ready-to-assemble chicken coops come with their built-in nest boxes.
These built-in nest boxes will be of an appropriate size to the size of the coop. It is a good idea to have one nest box per three to four birds.
A good size for a nest box is about 12-inch cubed with a lip at the bottom to prevent the bedding material from falling out.
Coops with built-in nests often have outside egg doors meaning that you do not have to enter the coop for collecting eggs. It is important to ensure that this door is secured against predators like raccoons and snakes.
If your coop does not have built-in nest boxes and you do not want to spend money on purchasing (or making them), you can simply use a 5-gallon plastic bucket as a nest box.
Simply add some padding or other nesting materials and place a brick or stone on either side of the bucket to prevent it from rolling.
Plastic bucket nests are easy to clean just like commercially available plastic nest boxes.
Some birds prefer laying eggs in the dark so you may want to use dark or black colored buckets.
Crates and other makeshift nesting boxes
Hens are simple birds and they don’t need any fancy boxes to lay their eggs in.
Sometimes, you might invest in nest boxes only to find that your chickens are laying their eggs in the corner of the coop, or your flowerpots!
So, you can also use pretty much anything you have at home to make your chicken nesting boxes. This can include unused cat litter boxes, old drawers, or plastic containers.
How many nesting boxes per chicken?
If you asked a slick chicken nesting box salesman this question, he would likely tell you that you need one nesting box per chicken.
Then he would also tell you that he is having a ‘special discount today’ and try to sell several nesting boxes to you.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many ‘slick’ nest box salesmen today. However, there are many good manufacturers of top-quality chicken nesting boxes and the answer they should give you is that you need one nest box per four or five chickens.
What to put in chicken nesting boxes?
You can place some bedding or special chicken nest pads inside your nesting boxes. A chicken nest pad ensures clean and manure-free eggs. It is a one-piece bedding layer designed to be comfortable for the birds and it is also removable and washable.
Polyethylene resin bedding is also available which helps deter bacterial growth.
Chicken nest pads prevent the build-up of chicken manure and keep the eggs slightly elevated to prevent the mess from getting on them.
You can also add absorbent pine shavings or hay to nesting boxes to simulate a wild-bird’s nest.
How big should chicken nesting boxes be?
When it comes to nesting boxes, size does matter.
Most hens like boxes that are easy to turn around in. If they have a roof, they should be tall enough for the hen to stand comfortably.
General measurements of a nesting box are 12x12x12 but for average-sized hens, square boxes of 12×18 inches are also good.
Boxes can be of any configuration: 14×14, 14×16 and so on and they can even be round.
Bantam hens can use smaller boxes while the extra-large breeds may need boxes of at least 16 inches square. Having too large boxes might encourage several hens to go inside at once causing egg breakage.
Remember: if the boxes are enclosed, the roof should be steeply pitched to prevent the birds from sitting or sleeping on it and creating a pile of chicken manure on or near the eggs.
Where to place nesting boxes in a chicken coop?
You can keep the nesting boxes at ground level inside the coop or slightly higher (no higher than 3 feet or 1 meter). It is a good idea to attach the boxes to the coop’s walls for stability.
Some people also stack their nesting boxes. In any case, the nesting boxes should always be inside the coop.
The point of a nesting box is to provide the hen with a quiet and dark space where she can lay her eggs, free from the traffic of birds coming in and going out of the coop. The nesting area should also be easy to access for egg collection. Moreover, the boxes should also be easily movable so you can clean the coop from time to time.
Make sure to place the boxes in a sheltered area free from draught and rain. In cold weather, keep the boxes in the warmest part of the coop. This will prevent the hens from feeling cold and the eggs from freezing.
Chicken nesting boxes provide hens with a safe and comfortable place to lay their eggs in. You can buy these boxes or even make your own using unused litter boxes, drawers, or large plastic buckets.
If you plan to buy chicken nesting boxes, make sure you take into account factors like their size, the number of birds you have, the possibility of the future expansion of your coop-size, the material and style of the boxes, and their placement in the coop.
I hope the above reviews help you make an informed choice when buying the best chicken nesting boxes.