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Chicken Nesting Boxes: 13 Free DIY Plans & How to Build Them

Need chicken nesting box ideas? Start here! Chickens are amazing. They provide so much and generally ask for very little. They are often a staple of any homestead, farm, ranch, or household. With a tiny space and a little effort – they can flourish.

Good layers like Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Red Stars, and Orpingtons will consistently lay an egg daily. Other types may need a little more careful encouragement via their environment. 

All chickens need a place to feel safe enough to hunker down and lay secure from predators. Their nesting boxes should also be cozy. And undisturbed! A chicken that feels safe is a good layer. Creating nesting boxes for your flock is the first step in getting the most from each chicken. 

Our flock of Lavender Orpingtons was already pretty laid-back, letting our kids grab them. And at one point, use a chicken leash to parade them around. 

Yep. There are chicken leashes!

When we built their nesting boxes inside our little makeshift coop, their moderate production increased to around three eggs per day from a young flock of five. 

Before we talk about the best chicken nesting box plans – let me introduce you to our local chicken experts! Here’s my son, Ekky, and Brownie the chicken. Ekky is a chicken-keeping enthusiast and loves helping on the homestead.

How to Build Chicken Nesting Boxes

The purpose of nesting boxes is to encourage your hens to lay eggs regularly in the same place. And to properly hatch chicks should you want to grow your flock. 

Nesting boxes don’t have to be fancy! And they don’t even have to be a perfect box shape. An enclosed space with a lipped edge (this keeps shavings in the box) around one to three feet above the ground is all your hen needs. 

When we set out to give our Orpington chickens plenty of nesting space, we mistakenly believed each chicken needed their box. We’d check for eggs and notice the two corner boxes were the prime real estate. The five chickens ended up sharing those two boxes. 

Here’s my son Bo and the Lavender Orpingtons. Bo and Ekky are helpful chicken keepers. As you see – the Orpingtons are good-sized chickens. Orpingtons also produce excellent backyard chicken eggs!

So, how many nesting boxes are needed? 

It’s way less than you think! 

A flock of up to twenty chickens can happily share five boxes. For an increasingly complete breakdown and info on chicken nesting box ratios, visit our article about nesting box per chicken requirements. We also share a table to help you decide how many nesting boxes to build.

There are so many nesting box plans available for free online, too! Chicken ranchers and homesteaders are unique little cluckers. But they are generous of spirit and will give you eggs. And that’s not all! They also share plans for coops, nesting boxes, and all those best nesting box practices. 

Here are some of the niftiest nesting box plans we could find.

1. The Full Coop 

collecting farm fresh eggs from chicken nesting box
Check out these sizeable chicken nesting boxes. They remind us of community-style nesting boxes. There’s a couple of boxes – and a lot of wood shavings! We also noticed dividers between the chicken nest boxes for added privacy. The DIY nesting box looks like a comfy space. However, we’re (slightly) concerned. It seems tricky keeping these nesting boxes clean!

This chicken coop plan from HGTV is a complete PDF of a simple coop. Page seven details the nesting box insert for a bump-out design. The nesting box sits outside the primary coop space. And it comes with easier access to eggs. Easy access is convenient if you’re more interested in consuming or selling them rather than hatching new chicks.

The box still works, of course, for hatching little peepers, but the access consideration is critical. These plans are also customizable. So you can build your coop efficiently or turn up the style dial to something fancier. But – even the most basic chicken coop plan is rustic and beautiful. You won’t go wrong either way.

Here’s your link to the chicken coop plan and blueprints from HGTV.

2. Tons of Choices

multi layer chicken nesting boxes laying eggs
Here’s another community-style chicken nesting box design. Notice how the nesting boxes offer plenty of privacy. But don’t let your community nesting boxes get dirty! We read an excellent chicken nest guide suggesting cleaning your chicken nesting box once weekly with fresh bed dressing. Regularly change the pine shavings or shredded paper. Otherwise – your hens may get fussy that the coop is a mess! And your egg quality will likely suffer.

The chicken nesting box article from Chickens and More includes a litany of lovely and free chicken nesting box plans! They are straightforward, ranging from standalone A-Frames to boxes for up to 30 chickens. And perches! The nesting boxes are all traditional wood, with most of the nesting boxes designed to fit inside your coop. 

As the number of boxes increases, be aware that access – for you and your flock – is a critical consideration. It’s best to examine your space and determine whether side-by-side or stacked boxes are optimal.

Read More – How to Make Fermented Chicken Feed! Plus Our Top Five Recipes!

3. The Basic Box

wooden chicken nesting box from scratch
Check out one of our favorite chicken nesting box ideas from Remove and Replace. They build their chicken nesting boxes from scratch! And – their website shows how in step-by-step detail. Here is their chicken nesting box tutorial for more information! They also have lots of photos so you can follow along.

Most small homesteads are like ours, with a flock of five to eight hens and space for two to three nesting boxes – which is why we love this nesting box plan. The three-nest hen nesting box is simple yet elegant. The nesting boxes can get made out of any wood you’d like. 

Ideal box sizes are 16-inches by 16-inches by 16-inches (16x16x16) to allow most chickens to stand and step in and out, but not so large that more than one hen tries to occupy it at a time. 

What I like about this plan is that it’s simple. You can use materials you might already have (or find free at garage sales), and there’s no need for complications in cuts or angles.

(Simple wins the day. Doubly so in the world of chicken coops, hen houses, chicken tractors, and nesting boxes!)

4. The Double Decker

diy backyard chicken nesting box
Here’s another excellent chicken nesting box idea from Whole View Farm and Joe’s Garden Journal. The design came about trying to save cash and using scrap wood. I think we can all relate! Check out Joe’s Garden for more details on how to build this lovely nesting box. From scratch!

If you have a larger flock, you can double up the three nesting boxes design while still only using one four-feet by eight-feet sheet of plywood and a few other materials. 

This nesting six-box plan creates 12-inch by 12-inch by 12-inch boxes. So be aware that it’s the smallest recommended nesting box size for most larger laying hens. It has a perch for the hens to hop up to and down from the upper level and is light enough to be hung with brackets wherever you’d like.

This nesting box plan doesn’t have alternative access points. So – you must reach the front of the nesting box to check and collect eggs. 

5. The No-Build Kind

bowl chicken nesting boxes
These bowls (by Krafty Kritters) represent a chicken nesting box idea without the window dressing. And without the fuss! It’s a straightforward option if you have lots of laying hens who need a nesting box fast. We would try adding dividers between the bowls to give the hens more privacy. Some birds are shyer than others! Check out the full chicken nesting box article on Krafty Kritters and Blogspot for more details!

You could get basic with your nesting boxes. Or, in this case, use nesting box bowls. It’s by far the fastest nesting box strategy we’ve seen! Place these little bowls inside your coop with shavings, and voila! Nesting spots. 

The only downside is that you want to discourage your hens from sleeping in their nesting area. They get messy and require a lot more cleaning out!

Hens can be finicky, too. They may prefer the safety of walls rather than the low sides of the little buckets. You’ll also need to ensure these are secure, as there is a risk of tipping over with entry and exit.

Read More – Eight Adorable Chickens with Afros! Best Crested Chicken Breeds!

6. Repurposed Lidded Buckets

kitty litter chicken nesting boxes
We thought these chicken nesting boxes from old recycled kitty litter boxes were a stroke of genius! The hens seem to love the snug and cozy design. Check out the homesteading.com blog for all the details. They have an excellent chicken nest box tutorial on turning old recycled materials into worthy nesting areas.

I love repurposing everything!

In the following nesting box design plan, you use old kitty litter buckets with the lids partially removed as the boxes. They are a good size, line up evenly, and can sit on a simple shelf inside your coop. 

You can also have these repurposed coop materials outside. Consider adding a little sloped roof for protection from the elements.

7. Repurposed Bookshelf

lovely hen in wooden nesting box with eggs
Here’s the perfect chicken nesting box idea for backyard chicken coops. Notice the ample space – and padding. We read from a reliable source that nesting boxes for chickens require thick two-inch padding and bedding material. Failure to offer a soft layer of nesting material may cause more broken eggs. Keep your hens cozy. And safe! And – you’ll probably have more reliable egg production.

I told you I love repurposing! 

In this chicken nesting box plan from My Creative Days, you can use a bookshelf to create nesting boxes. We like finding these at thrift stores and garage sales. Or for free on the side of the road!

Add a little (non-toxic, water-based) paint and a few wood scraps for extra style and posh. You can transform most bookcases into an attractive little setup. 

Ensure your case has deep shelves for adequate depth for your boxes. Remember, most chickens need a minimum of 12-inches in height to stand without fuss. 16-inches is optimal.

8. Repurposed Dresser 

Do you have a scrap dresser that’s collecting dust? Well – here’s how to save some cash on your chicken nesting box! Freedom Reign Farm wants to show you all the details. We love the wide nesting box design using upcycled material. Lots of room for your hens!

Ok, last repurposing idea. Can you tell I love these? 

In this chicken nesting box tutorial, you can watch Freedom Reign Farm convert an old dresser into an adorable nesting box structure. 

Another option is simply attaching dresser drawers to your coop interior wall. You can get as creative as you want! Old ugly dressers make the best upgrades, especially those with nice deep drawers. 

9. Add-On Nesting Boxes

unusual chicken nesting boxes made from flower boxes
We love this unusual chicken nesting box idea for backyard chicken hobbyists! You see how the hens are relaxing in their chicken nesting – made of flower boxes! We admit that the chicken nesting box size is tiny in this case. We think it might be too small for some birds! These flower and nesting boxes aren’t the most unique chicken nesting box idea we’ve seen. We also saw a chicken nesting inside a 5-gallon bucket! We love using 5-gallon buckets because they’re markedly easy to rinse and clean.

If you already have your coop and need more than what it offers for nesting boxes, you can build a three-nest addition to your structure. 

In this nesting box add-on plan, you can use basic wood materials and scale them up or down in size according to your chickens and coop. The easy-to-lift lid allows for quick egg collection and cleaning.

10. Standalone Nesting Box

organic free range wooden chicken nesting box
Chicken nesting boxes with pine shavings are a must for a productive flock. Here you can see a lovely hen laying eggs safely on her organic chicken farm. We’ve read many sources regarding the best chicken-to-chicken nesting box ratio. The sources vary slightly. However, at least one chicken nesting box for every five hens seems like a good rule of thumb. We also love washable chicken nesting pads. They help keep your chicken nesting box clean – so your hens are happy. And produce clean eggs!

Downeast Thunder Farm has a great PDF plan for a free-standing, four-nest structure. 

The wonderful thing about free-standing nesting boxes is the ability to move them if needed. You can position it anywhere, clean and access it without fuss. And maximize your space by adding storage beneath it if desired. You can find the plans here.

Read More – 23 Free Chicken Coop Plans! Easy DIY Chicken Coops for Backyard Flocks!

11. Pallet Nesting Box

wooden chicken nesting box house
These chicken nesting box ideas resemble wooden crates. And they also look easy to clean! They’re perfect for backyard chicken coops or mid-scale chicken ranchers who need to offer privacy and cleanliness to their hens. And notice that these chicken nesting boxes use hay as their nest bedding! Most chicken box ideas we find say to use wood chips. But – hay is perfect for chicken nesting! We still recommend changing the bedding at least once per week in any case.

This simple plan to create two nesting boxes out of pallet wood is remarkable. And appealing. We love it because you can often find pallets for cheap. Or free!

Home improvement, ranch supply, and hardware stores often have way more pallets than they can handle, so ask if you can take one off their hands. 

(Or – if you know someone who orders heating pellets each year. Ask them!)

Even a damaged pallet could suffice. You don’t need much of the pallet to make this work.

12. Milk Crate Nesting Boxes

Check out the rustic design of these chicken nesting boxes from Simple Living Country Gal! She also includes a thick layer of chicken nesting materials. The nesting box looks comfy – and the hens seem happy. Simple Living Country Gal also has an in-depth chicken nesting box tutorial on their website.

Using milk crates to create nesting boxes is a great idea. You can stack, rearrange, and easily clean them. And their standard dimensions make it a breeze to measure and plan.

Check out the following nesting box guide using milk crates! The guide shows you how to assemble your milk crate nesting box quickly and efficiently. A simple frame is required, but you can also consider bolting the crates to the coop wall or stacking them with a board protruding between the first and second levels, which doubles as a perch.

hens in cozy milk crate nesting boxes
This backyard chicken enthusiast made adorable chicken nesting boxes using pieces of wood and milk crates. The basket looks like a comfy space. We love the idea of using milk creates because the plastic is easy to hose and rinse off. And – milk crates are the perfect size for a chicken nesting box! They’re usually about one square foot.

13. All the Single Ladies (Hens)

rustic wooden chicken nesting box
These chicken nesting boxes are epic! And the curious hens can’t help themselves but investigate. The design is from Ana White’s blog. It’s one of our favorite nesting box plans for homesteaders who love backyard DIY projects. It’s perfect if you want a sturdy, reliable, yet chic-looking nesting box for your chooks.

A single nesting box is easy-peasy as well. In this nesting box tutorial, you can create a little single-nest box. Complete with a roof! 

But – remember that hens prefer elevated boxes. Elevated nesting boxes help protect your hens from predators. We also find that heightened nesting boxes increase the likelihood that your hens will use the nesting box. Enclose it, and place it at least a foot off the ground. 

Nesting boxes are such a fantastic project for chicken enthusiasts! And they present an excellent opportunity for kids to get involved, too. 

Simple construction, repurposing old furniture and measuring dimensions. All of what goes into creating nesting boxes can be optimal learning and fun for kiddos. They can paint, decorate, design, and enjoy right alongside you. 

And they can also play with (and learn to appreciate) the chickens!

Here is Brownie’s beautiful face. Brownie loves resting in a comfy chicken house when they’re not foraging in the yard. Brownie is a fun-loving laid-back bird and makes us proud chicken owners!

Chicken Nesting Boxes FAQs

Choosing the best chicken nesting box for your homestead is trickier than most non-chicken farmers think!

So – we amassed a list of the most problematic chicken nesting box FAQs.

We hope they help you in your chicken-raising journey!

Do Chickens Need a Ramp to Their Nesting Boxes?

Usually, no. Nesting boxes should get elevated one to three feet above the ground, and chickens can typically flap their way up without any issues. If the opening of the nesting box is narrow or if it gets elevated more than the minimum three feet, a perch on the outside of the box is helpful. 

Heavier breeds like Bantams could use ramps, but for the most part, all chickens can get to their boxes with a few flaps.

The best bet is to keep an eye on your flock. If the hens have trouble accessing the nesting box – then add accommodation.

Why Do Chickens Poop In Their Nesting Box?

Chickens pooping in their nesting boxes may be using them for sleeping. Ensuring you have adequate roosting bars that aren’t too high up will help. Young chickens may fall asleep in the nesting boxes, too. So if possible, close off the nesting boxes at night.

Do Chicken Nesting Boxes Need to Be Dark?

Dimly lit nesting boxes are ideal. Make sure they are covered, cozy, and clean. Well-lit nesting boxes can still work. But to support good laying, we find that dim lighting is best. Also – a nesting box that’s open and large may make your hens feel insecure. They enjoy privacy!

Roll Out Nesting Box for Up to 10 Hens | Homestead Essentials
$85.97 ($85.97 / Count)

Here's one of our favorite chicken nesting box ideas! These roll-away nesting boxes stand out because the removable nesting trays are tremendously easy to clean. We also love how the eggs roll to the front of the nesting box, where they stay safely under the lid.

The lid helps to keep your eggs clean. And intact! The nesting box also features an oversized handle so you can easily snag the eggs without fuss. 

Get More Info
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09/27/2022 05:59 pm GMT

Conclusion

Raising chickens is a ton of fun. And it’s tremendously rewarding if your hens have suitable nesting boxes!

We hope our guide helps you – and your hens – with a cozy, nurturing, and secure nesting box.

Which nesting box idea is your favorite?

Or – maybe we missed a little-known nesting box style?

Let us know about your results!

We love hearing from you about raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail – and other feathery farm animals.

Thanks again for reading.

And – have a great day!

Author

  • M. Jane is a writer, educator, and fledgling homesteader. With five kids and lots of love for all things creative, there's never a short supply of inspiration. M. Jane lives in Northwest Colorado.