Skip to Content

How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken [+ Hen Nesting Box Tips!]

If you’re new to keeping hens or want to expand your little flock, then the nesting boxes are vital. Here’s why. Hens are fussy (and fickle) creatures. And if they don’t like their nesting boxes or there aren’t enough, they will start to lay elsewhere instead!

And, as someone who spent hours last year retrieving eggs from a bramble thicket every day, I can assure you that you do not want that to happen. We did not have our nesting boxes set up quite right for our hens, and they soon made this clear by their choice of egg-laying location.

(Nobody wants a roaming rogue chicken!)

So, let’s find out how many nesting boxes per chicken is the optimum number and keep our hens happy and laying where they should be.

Sound good?

How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken

Your chickens will need one nesting box for every four hens. Each nesting box should be the right size to allow the hen to sit comfortably while feeling safe and secure. The nesting boxes should be in a quiet spot so your hens can easily lay in peace.

Nesting Boxes Per Chicken

Number of ChickensNumber of Nesting Boxes
1-3 chickens1 nesting box
4-7 chickens2 nesting boxes
8-12 chickens3 nesting boxes
13-16 chickens4 nesting boxes
17-20 chickens5 nesting boxes
How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken

How Many Nesting Boxes Do You Need for Chickens?

I need to get one thing straight – and it is something every chicken keeper will tell you. No matter how many nesting boxes you build, they will often all want to lay in the same one!

So, you may encounter a situation where two hens are trying to sit in the same box together. Incredibly cute, but probably not very comfortable!

Or your hens might be like my friend’s girls, who all stand in an orderly queue waiting for their favorite box in the morning. All the nesting boxes look the same to us. But these kooky chooks have a preference!

But – don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need one nesting box. Ensure that every hen can lay comfortably in a box, should the hens wish. Most chicken keepers find the hens have a preferred nesting box, but all of them will get used from time to time.

wooden chicken nesting box house
How many nesting boxes per chicken? Here’s our best tip. One nesting box for every four hens is an excellent rule of thumb for new homesteaders and chicken raisers. Try to position the nesting boxes away from feeders and heavy foot traffic. That way – your hens have plenty of privacy. And keeping the nesting boxes clear of clutter also helps keep the nesting boxes clean.

Do You Need One Nesting Box Per Chicken?

No. You do not need one nesting box per chicken, as it is unlikely that all your hens will want to lay their eggs simultaneously. Most flocks of hens get into a routine, where they all lay at different times of the day. This chicken egg timing means they can take it in turns to use the nesting boxes.

Large Wall Mount Egg Nesting Boxes | Miller
$127.25

These chicken nesting boxes get made in the USA and come in four packs. They're excellent for laying hens who want privacy and security. They're polyethylene that's super easy to clean. They're also extra spacious - 16.5-inches by 15.88-inches by 19.75-inches. You can also mount them to the wall and elevate them off the ground.

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
08/13/2022 03:56 pm GMT

How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need for a Small Flock of Hens?

If you have a small flock of up to three hens, you may be able to get away with just one nesting box. Once you’ve got four or more laying hens, you will need an additional nesting box.

The rule of thumb is one nesting box for every four hens. However, a small flock of four hens may struggle to work their daily laying routine around just one nesting box, which is why I would increase to two nesting boxes at this stage.

So – if you notice your hens are getting cramped – add more nesting boxes to your coop.

Read More – Do Chickens Need Water at Night? Should You Put Water In the Coop?

How Many Laying Boxes Do I Need for 6 Chickens?

For six chickens, you will need two nesting boxes. Some hen owners may get away with one nesting box for six chickens, but you may find that you have territorial problems or hens that start to lay elsewhere.

Is Three Nesting Boxes Enough for 6 Chickens?

Three nesting boxes are more than enough for six laying hens. You will probably find that they use just one or two boxes, with the third remaining empty. However, we think the more spacious and clean their nesting boxes – the better.

(When your hens get spread among many nesting boxes – they’re easier to clean. Within reason!)

hen laying in large straw nesting box with eggs
Check out this massive nesting box for this lovely hen and her eggs! But – not all nesting boxes need to be this big. What about nesting box dimensions? Most nesting boxes should be at least twelve by twelve -inches. At least! (We prefer slightly more spacious.) It’s also wise to keep your nesting box elevated off the ground. Keeping the nesting boxes off the ground helps keep everything clean. Cleanliness is vital if you want happy and healthy hens. And eggs!

How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need for 7 Chickens?

An established flock of seven chickens will need two nesting boxes. They will probably use both boxes, but most hens will have a preference for one over another. We also think if you have seven chickens – it may be wise to consider adding more nesting boxes. Keep an eye on your birds. Are they feeling cramped? Or are they laying eggs in weird locations? Then add more!

Is Two Nesting Boxes Enough for 8 Chickens?

Maybe. Maybe not! If your egg-laying flock increases to eight chickens, this would be an excellent time to start thinking about a third nesting box. Two might be enough, but things will likely feel a bit congested. So, if you find two hens squashed in one box, or eggs getting laid on the coop’s floor, add a third nesting box.

How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need for 10 Chickens?

A flock of 10 chickens will need three comfortable nesting boxes. Three boxes will allow each hen to lay when required – without any territorial problems.

How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need for 12 Chickens?

Three or four nesting boxes should be sufficient for 12 laying chickens. But – if you find that some of your hens start laying elsewhere, it may be a good idea to add more nesting boxes.

How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need for 14 Chickens?

A laying flock of 14 chickens will need four comfortable nesting boxes. Each hen will have a favorite nesting box, but with four to choose from, they should all be able to lay without any problems.

Read More – Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa? What About Alfalfa Sprouts and Cubes?

How Many Nesting Boxes Do You Need for 20 Chickens?

Five nesting boxes will be adequate for 20 chickens. If you feel things getting a bit congested inside the coop at laying time, consider adding another nesting box. At this point – your flock is pretty sizeable! So – ensure that you give your hens plenty of privacy in their nesting boxes. And – work hard to keep them clean!

Can You Have Too Many Nesting Boxes for Chickens?

If you have too many nesting boxes for chickens, you will find that most of them will sit empty without any eggs. But is this a problem? Should you leave a few spare nesting boxes in the coop?

The problem with too many nesting boxes is that they can be tempting roosts for your hens. As a result – they may become dirty and contaminated with feces. Building a sloping roof on your nesting boxes can help prevent this problem.

Spare nesting boxes also provide a place for mites and other insects to hide, potentially leading to an infestation in your chicken coop. They might look clean and unused, but all sorts of nasties could be lurking under that bedding!

So – even if you have several unused nesting boxes, we recommend keeping them clean. Inspect them and change the bedding occasionally – even if your hens don’t use them.

lovely chicken next to nesting box and eggs
Want cleaner eggs? Then your hens need a clean nesting box! Clean the nesting boxes regularly – and ensure that you use a suitable nesting material. Straw and wood chippings work fine. However, we’ve read that pine shavings make some of the best nesting material for hens. We agree!

How Big Should a Chicken Nest Box Be?

A chicken nest box should be between 12 and 14-inches wide, 14-inches deep, and 14-inches tall. Yes, that means your nesting boxes should have a roof! A 14-inch cube is the ideal nesting box shape for most standard chicken breeds. But – larger hens may prefer a slightly larger box.

Do Nesting Boxes Need Dividers?

Good question. The answer is yes! Hens like total privacy when laying. They will not appreciate being observed by their feathered neighbors! Dividers between each nesting box will make your chickens feel more relaxed and comfortable when laying their eggs.

How Far Off the Ground Should Nesting Boxes Be?

Chickens will happily lay on the ground. However, they prefer nesting boxes raised at least 18 inches from the floor. Small breeds such as silkies may struggle to fly this high, so provide them with lower boxes or a stepping stone to help them reach the nesting boxes. (Some of our homesteading friends use small hay bales!)

Do Chickens Need a Ramp to Their Nesting Boxes?

It might look tricky, but most hens will be able to fly into their nesting boxes. Chickens are more agile than you realize! They can jump into their laying box to lay without issue. However, if you find that your hens lay somewhere other than the nesting box? Then providing a ramp may be the solution to this problem.

Single Chicken Nesting Box | Rural365
$53.99 $49.99 ($49.99 / Count)

These nesting boxes are perfect for laying hens. They're zinc-plated and easy to clean. They're spacious (9-inches by 12-inches by 17-inches) and provide plenty of space for your chooks. We also love the hinged lid that helps prevent roosting atop the nesting box. These give ultimate privacy and comfort to your birds!

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
08/13/2022 01:26 pm GMT

Conclusion

Creating the perfect laying facilities for your hens is not as simple as you might assume!

But, as long as we bear in mind that all our girls want is a private place to lay their eggs in peace, it is possible to create an egg-laying haven that the chooks will be queuing up to employ.

What about you?

Do you find that all your hens like to use the same nesting box? Or maybe you’ve cracked the problem and found a trick to encourage them to use all the nesting boxes in a well-distributed manner?

We’d love to hear about your experiences! And if you have questions about nesting boxes for chickens – feel free to post them below.

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

Read More – 20 Adorable Tiny Chicken Breeds! Perfect for Farms – or Pets!

Author

  • Kate moved to Portugal last year and lives with her husband, two cats, six hens, and a glorious Brahma rooster called Mary. Earlier this year they purchased a half-hectare ‘quinta’ – traditional terraced land with olive trees, grapevines, and a house to renovate. They are currently living in a small campervan which is a challenging but fun experience! Kate has over 15 years of experience in the UK veterinary industry and is also a passionate gardener – turning a grassy field into a productive vegetable patch in just three months. Future plans include more animals, particularly sheep and goats for milk production to make cheese, butter, and yogurt! Kate and her husband are aiming to create a self-sufficient off-grid life on their quinta, fulfilling a life-long dream.