So the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed some new nest boxes gracing the walls of our chicken coop this winter. After trying some larger community nest boxes in the Winebeggo this year we’ve decided that we like the community boxes are far more than the individual nest boxes.
They’re easier to build, it takes less lumber to build them and they accommodate more hens.
Building them is pretty straight forward, just make a series of boxes to the appropriate dimensions. In our case we’re using boxes that are 48″ wide, 18″ tall and 16″ deep. I get about one bank of 4 boxes out of 2.5 sheets of OSB and about three 8′ 2×4’s. One bank should be good for about 200 hens. (200 may be pushing it, but it’s workable)
Most of the front of the box (48″x12″) folds down for egg collection. It’s best to double down on the magnetic latches to keep the doors shut, doors flapping open unbidden are annoying at best.
The entry/exit hole for the hens is 8″x8″ and covered with a flap of dark fabric. This helps keep the nests nice and dark, which reduces egg-eating. There’s room in the bottom of the nestbox for a good 6″ of bedding to cushion the eggs.
We tried running the boxes all together (in each bank) making two 8′ long nests, but the hens are much happier, and fewer eggs are broken, when the nests are divided up into 4′ lengths. It seems that most hens want a corner nest, so the 4′ nest seems to keep most of them happy.
These commercially made rollaway community boxes have definitely caught our eye. Maybe someday.