June 14, 2010

3R Nest Boxes

According to my reading, young hens usually start to lay somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks of age. My chickens are about 18 weeks old now, so nest boxes were next on the chicken to-do list.

Rather than buy them ready made, or even buy the materials to make them, we used what we had on hand. I've seen several folks make them from plastic 5-gallon buckets, but we didn't have any of these to spare. The next best thing was the huge discarded cardboard tube DH pulled out of a dumpster. These are the ones he used to make the footer forms when he added support to our dining room floor. They measured about 4 feet long with an 18 inch diameter.

He cut one of them into 12 inch sections, which I painted to protect the cardboard.

Beginnings of our new nest boxes.I have 7 pullets, so I'm thinking that three nests should be more than plenty.

Nest boxes assembled & ready to paint.The tube sections were bolted together and then screwed onto a discarded board we had on hand. We used a 2x4 from our scrap lumber pile to add support and a perch in front. The outsides were painted with leftover primer paint, the insides and the boards with leftover barn paint.

Installed & awaiting eggsI put the whole thing in the chicken coop on a couple of odd cinder blocks we had lying around. Straw, of course, we already had for the goats. I read somewhere to use golf balls in the nests as hints to the pullets as to where to lay their eggs. We found a box of old golf balls when we were cleaning out the shed, and that's what you see in the nests. Not eggs yet!

I put it in the coop at night, after the chickens had gone to roost. I figured they would worry less over it that way. The next morning, all seemed well when I opened the chicken door to let them out into their yard. They are usually very eager to get out, and they were, except for one.

That one was the Welsummer rooster. I went into the coop to find him still on the roost, fretting about how to jump over to the out-ramp without getting anywhere near that strange new contraption in the coop. It wasn't until the third morning that he seemed to get over it.

Hopefully these will work for awhile. Their shape means no one will want to perch and therefore poop on them. None of the chickens have paid much attention to them so far, which is okay. When the time comes though, I hope they know just what to do with them.

3R Nest Boxes text & photos copyright June 2010 


Amanda J said...

Very cool, I love them! I also love it when people including myself use what is on hand!

Kids and Canning Jars said...

Very creative and cost effective. Our chickens lay in our kitty cat carriers. We just add the fresh thin wood chips.


Theresa said...

Very very clever! I hope the chickens read the same stuff you did about not wanting to hang out on top of them. :)
Cute idea about the golf balls too!

Nina said...

Very nifty! Silly chooks will probably wait in line to use only one of them! 18in. might even be big enough for two of them to use it at once! I'm planning on 3 nexting boxes for our what looks to be 11 pullets.
I've heard about the golf balls or using wooden or porcelain eggs too. It is also supposed to help keep them from pecking and eating their own eggs, because they don't get any satisfaction from pecking the golf balls.

Leigh said...

Amanda, I'm like you, I love to figure out how to not buy something and I love to see how folks do it too!

Melissa, another good idea. I'm sure your cats don't mind. :)

Theresa, *LOL, I hope they did too! I have no idea if the golf ball idea works.

Nina, I wouldn't be surprised. I read 1 nest box to every 3 to 4 chickens, so 3 is probably too many. Of course, the 18 inches is across the widest part. Hopefully it's cozy enough for them at the bottom. Good point about the golf balls. Hopefully it's a valid theory!


They nesting rounds look great, I'm so impressed that you didn't have to buy a single thing and recycled everything you had on hand.

Renee Nefe said...

looks great! I hope your chickens like them too. I know if they don't they'll just start laying in a corner somewhere. at least that's what happened to my friend.

Sara said...

Oh, I was reading along and saw the photos and thought right away that they had eggs already...how funny about the golf ball...

Ken and Mary of Fancy Fibers Farm said...

Excellent idea! Have no fear they'll undoubtedly find them and use them. We put in some next boxes and feared our hens wouldn't use them as they started laying in an entirely different coop, but they found them right away and began using them, er, 1 or 2 of them at the most. I can't remember exactly how many next boxes we put in, but it was someething like 15 and all the hens used 1. Some days there would be a mound of eggs in 1 box. And then for a long time most of the eggs weren't layed in the boxes but in a little hidey-hole they uncovered in their coop. Anyway, they'll undoubedly use them and find some way to poop in them too.

Flower said...

Your nesting boxes are great! The chickens will take their time but when they decide to lay an egg...they will have a place to jump in to! We found our free range hen laying on all of her eggs in the barn. There are so many eggs that many of them are cold and will have to be discarded. It's taken us months to find the nest! She wants to have her babies so we are leaving her alone until that happens. The eggs are fine eggs..strong, brown eggs. I am now worried that a critter will disturb her. And, when the eggs hatch...there will be more to worry about! :) There is never a dull day!

Razzberry Corner said...

Great nest boxes, Leigh! Our chickens surprised us and started laying before we planned by making their own nest in the corner of the coop. When we built nest boxes and they were quite happy.

They seem to like a box that already has an egg in it. And they seem to like to return to the same box day after day. To keep the laying pullets away from the broody pullet who is sitting on eggs, we use plastic easter eggs. We put the plastic egg in the nest box where we want the chicken to go, and they always go to it! Let us know when you start getting eggs!

Leslie said...

I love your boxes, you are very resourceful. They will surely use them, especially when they see the golf balls in them.

Leigh said...

Deep End, it's always a relief to not have to spend a fortune on a project isn't it?

Renee I hope so too. I especially hope that corner isn't out in the goat field somewhere! That's a potential problem with free ranged chickens.

Sara, I have to admit that I wouldn't have thought of golf balls. Nor probably even plastic eggs. I wouldn't have considered that newbie egg layers would even need to be told what a next box is for!

Ken and Mary, thanks for that! It's encouraging to say the least. Funny about their preferences. And chicken poop! It just goes without saying that where there's chickens there's chicken poop. :)

Flower, how fun that you have a broody hen. Good thing you found her nest before some of the unincubated eggs did something disastrous like break! I'll look forward to chick pix on your blog.

Lynn, it was your previous comment about your pullets laying so early that motivated me to get these done. Interesting about the plastic eggs. I hope the golf balls work as well!

Leslie, thank you! I hope you're right!

bspinner said...


Leigh said...

Thanks Barb!