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.
- How to Build Chicken Nesting Boxes
- Chicken Nesting Boxes FAQs
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.
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
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
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.
3. The Basic Box
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
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
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.
6. Repurposed Lidded Buckets
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
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
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
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
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.
11. Pallet Nesting Box
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
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.
13. All the Single Ladies (Hens)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!