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How to Build Simple Chicken Nesting Boxes

Updated on November 17, 2011

So, your adorable little balls of fluff have matured into burgeoning, squawky divas, and it's time to consider their needs as adult chickens. Namely: nesting boxes. The traditional nesting box is wooden and fairly easy to make. However, if you never took a shop class or are simply looking for an easy alternative, you have two options. You can either purchase a ready-made box, or you can craft a cheap, and just as effective solution!

Which method you choose depends largely on the purpose of your chickens. If you have a small flock kept primarily as pets, then these quick boxes will be fine. However, if you have a larger flock, more than ten or so, you will probably wish to find something a little more professional.

As a general rule, you should have one nesting box per four or five birds. I personally went a bit overkill and have a box for each of my girls. Chickens like a private, confined space to lay their eggs. Given that, they aren't picky. You, however, need to take a few more things into consideration. For example, nesting boxes should be lower than the hen's roosts. Otherwise, they will simply sleep in them and leave droppings all over your straw. Speaking of droppings, nesting boxes should be covered to prevent unwanted leavings on your eggs. You should also try to have some kind of lip to prevent the eggs from rolling out. Here are some easy designs that meet all of these requirements.


This happens to be my nesting 'box' of choice and is very quick. Simply buy as many five gallon buckets as you need for your hens; make sure they come with lids. Then, using a razor, slice the lid so that you have 1" - 2" of lip. Affix the lip to the bucket. If it's not a sturdy lid, use some super glue to get it nice and tight. Then, toss in some straw!

Mounting the bucket is easiest when you have a thin shelf above it. Drill up through the "top" of your bucket and through the shelf. Then it's a simple matter of using some brackets to secure it. I also chose to build a frame around the boxes both for support and to give the chickens easier access.

Cat Litter Boxes

This may be the easiest of them all. Simply buy as many covered cat boxes as you need. Make sure the entrance is large enough for an adult chicken to fit through and sit in comfortably. Put some straw on the bottom and voila! Easy nesting box.

These you can actually leave on the floor of your coop, if you don't mind bending over for eggs. Another solution is to attach the box to a shelf, leaving some room for the chickens to walk to the entrance.

Milk Crates

Everyone has a few a milk crates lying around, right? Well, they make great nesting boxes! The only difficult aspect with milk crates is finding a lip. The best solution I can think of would be to line the crates up on a shelf, and then fasten a long, thin, piece of wood to the shelf, at the mouth of the crates. You can simply nail these boxes down, or to the wall for additional support.

And that's all there is to a nesting box! As do many things involving livestock, they require a little technical know-how. But with these plans, anyone can have their chickens safely producing eggs in no time!


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    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 3 years ago

      Great ideas! I really like how simple all your suggestions are for nesting boxes! Thanks!

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      jtbass2756 2 years ago

      I just read that a "chickeneer" was using the milk crates until one morning he walked in to find one of his layers had gotten her head thru one of the "holes" and evidently just hung herself in panic. Please beware of them. I'm going to use the 5 gal buckets you talked about. Already have my buckets. Was going to use the crates I had in the barn but changed my mind. Thanks for the details...

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