Recently I told you about my Dad’s DIY Chicken Tractor that he made on the cheap. He used a salvaged nesting box to reduce the cost for the coop. While setting a box with some hay down seems easy enough, you actually need to have a ‘home’ for your chickens to lay their eggs. Sure, they’ll lay eggs anywhere, but it’s a good idea to have a designated place they can feel safe in and return to every time.
If you’re trying to cut the cost of building a chicken coop, we’ve got some great DIY hacks for making your own chicken nesting boxes. I’ve collected these tips and strategies myself, so you might want to try them too!
(Click on any photo to be taken straight to the post/source.)
19 Ideas for DIY Nesting Boxes for Chickens You’ll Love
Dishpan Nesting Boxes
I liked this one because it’s a simple box construction, but the actual nesting boxes are made from dishpans with the front cut out. You could even do this with small litter boxes that are deep, depending on how big your nesting box frame is. You can do a deeper version of this with a Rubbermaid storage container, too.
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Milk Crate Nesting Boxes
Here is a milk crate idea that would be reasonably easy to put together in a configuration that works best for your space.
- 2 pieces brown Stacking Milk Crates
- High-Density Polyethylene Plastic
- Great for indoor AND outdoor storage, can be used on a shelf or on the floor, sold in pairs
Book Shelf Nesting Boxes
This box system is a great, easy idea that can be made from scrap lumber, easily. Or consider using an old bookshelf for the sides.
Plastic Storage Crate Nesting Boxes
Here’s a great way to use plastic storage crates to create a nesting box apartment.
Geometric Nesting Boxes
Can you imagine how cool this would look painted with chicken-friendly paint?
Wood Barrel Planter Nesting Box
Sometimes, a wine barrel is just the perfect spot for a nesting box away from the rest of the crowd.
Dollar Spot Nesting ‘Boxes’
And of course, you can go with something quite simple and inexpensive. This is a $1 per ‘box’ unit solution if you are comfortable with them on the floor.
- Rubbermaid polypropylene cylinders have a working temperature range of -20 to 150 degrees to store frozen or hot food.
- These 2-quart clear plastic round containers have a large, tabbed lid (sold separately) that can be opened with one...
- The 8 1/2 x 4 (Dia x H) canisters can be stacked for space saving storage.
HVAC Nesting Box
I tried, but I couldn’t find the original source for this photo. Honestly, I tried. I’m anal like that. I found it pinned quite a few times, but no original source is given, and even doing a Google search on the image netted nothing. So to whoever took this photo and uploaded it to the web, I thank you for the clever hack!
Kitty Litter Pan Nesting Box
Here’s a straightforward and easy, almost-ready put-together box for your nesting box made with a kitty litter pan set.
Kitty Litter Container Nesting Box 2
Go from the litter box to the litter box container! There are a few versions of this out on the web that are ingenious, including an entire wall full of them, but here’s the simple idea on how to use these kinds of containers and upcycle them into a home for your chickens.
Upcycled Furniture Nesting Boxes
Reusing furniture that you can’t use for its regular purpose is a great idea! Upcycling at its finest!
Egg Roll Nesting Box Hack
I ran across this one and thought….GENIUS! This is especially great if it’s for egg eaters or other issues for your eggs, but this is even better for building your box where each floor sits at a slight angle as this can help your eggs roll to the front box, keeping them from being eaten by your chicken, and cleaner in the process. Now, whether you want to let your chicken lay on astroturf is a whole other issue.
5 Gallon Bucket Nesting Boxes
These 5-gallon buckets are not only good for food storage and paint but nesting boxes as well! You can pick them up at grocery stores, restaurants, DIY stores, and other places.
Toy Storage Furniture Nesting Box
Yes, yes, I know this isn’t a nesting box, but this is where the hack comes in! Anna White has a great DIY toy bin tutorial that is PERFECT for making some nesting boxes. Go, get her plans now!
Here’s a smaller version of it, without all the preschool toys, which may make it easier to imagine.
Tractor Tire Nesting Box
Now, some may argue against the idea of using old tires for anything like raising animals or food; it’s still an idea for any of you who want to run with it.
Wire Organizer Rack Nesting Box
This particular hack is a frame with a hinged door, and the ‘cage’ is a wire organizer rack that you can get from many hobby shop/sewing stores. This box is often used for organizing and storage. You can configure this to a few different sizes/shapes, but this works perfectly for a chicken coop. They’ve also cut a few bits out of the back so that they can easily reach in to get the eggs.
Wine Crate Nesting Boxes
Would you like some wine with your eggs?
Concrete Tube Form Nesting Box
Leigh and her husband from 5acresandadream.com did some dumpster diving and found concrete tube forms. They painted them and repurposed them for their nesting boxes.
Dining Room Chair Nesting Box
Last, but certainly not least. Can you imagine the cutest little garden area where your coop has a few chairs outside on the patio so that those who would like to lay alfresco can do so? Instead of filling this with dirt to plant, make it a nesting box!
Here’s another idea that takes a little imagination, but you CAN create a nesting box apartment from old kitchen cabinet doors!
How to Build Nesting Boxes for Chickens
If you want to learn more about building nesting boxes for chickens, then we have some helpful tips for you.
Most importantly, you should have a safe and calm place for the chickens to lay their eggs. Bear in mind that you can build nesting boxes for chickens that are personalized for you and your budget, so everyone will have different creations.
First, choose a clean and quiet spot in your garden that is free from any dirt, such as cat litter. You’ll need different amounts of DIY nesting boxes for chickens depending on the number of animals you have. For example, for every two to four hens, you’ll need one nesting box. You may find that your chickens start investigating this new place and bedding to get familiar with this new territory.
Next, your chicken should be able to comfortably stand up in the box. 12 x 12 x 12 inches is a good size for egg production and for them to sleep in. If you’re unsure of the size, chickens who are egg laying should have a bigger box, rather than a smaller one.
Then, fill the box with a material to prevent broken eggs. Wood shavings and straw shavings are great resources for this, but you can also use grass (although you’ll need a larger pile for grass to prevent broken eggs).
To design a place the chickens can easily get in and out of, we suggest adding a step. Doing so helps to keep the area clean and is a great guide to easier living for the chickens. For example, you don’t want a pile of bedding dragged in and out of the box each time a chicken leaves.
Ideally, chickens shouldn’t sleep on top of the box at night, as this makes the area harder to clean. To prevent this, angle the top of your box so they won’t sleep on top at night.
Finally, for the ultimate backyard egg production, start gathering eggs that are fake and lay them in the box to encourage the chickens’ egg production in this area. Plastic eggs are a great example.
The Interior of the Nesting Boxes
We’ve focused a lot on the exterior of the nesting boxes, but the interior is just as important, if not more, for poultry health. You can use many materials, such as straw, grass, hay, and wood shavings. Bear in mind the chicken’s comfort, and how much time and willpower you have to clean up any mess. For example, shredded paper isn’t easy to clean, and eggs tend to stick to this material. Not only is this a messy job, but you could break the new eggs. Most importantly, the bottom of the nest should be covered with a soft material so your chickens will want to lay fresh eggs in there.
Chickens don’t like messy nesting boxes. Remove any droppings or mess that you see, including elements of broken eggs. You shouldn’t leave a mess in a box for more than one day, as this allows more time for accidents to happen. You can even get parasites inside of the box if you don’t keep it clean. The filthier the environment, the less likely a chicken will want to lay eggs in there.
Another way you can spruce up the interior of a nesting box is by adding lavender and other relaxing herbs. This will make it smell more pleasant for you as you visit the coop and provide a relaxing environment for your chickens. Certain herbs keep insects away too. Thyme and mint are great options for this task.
How High to Put Nesting Boxes For Chickens
Choosing the right spot for your chickens to lay eggs is essential. We recommend positioning the box no more than 18 inches off the floor. If you place them any higher, the boxes can be difficult to clean, but they should also be higher than where they sleep, as you want a different spot for these duties. One way you can manipulate the box’s height is by adding ladders.
What is the Best Material for Nesting Boxes for Chickens?
Before you start building nesting boxes for chicken, you should consider the array of materials and which one is best for your animals. There are many to choose from, and you shouldn’t just pick one that is easier to clean, but also choose a great spot for your chickens to sleep.
Metal Nesting Boxes for Chickens
First, metal nesting boxes for chickens are quick and easy to clean. This material is solid and durable, therefore will last many years for egg-laying cycles. However, you should remain cautious that metal can bake fresh eggs in the summer heat. Therefore, be conscious of which spot you store the chickens’ nesting boxes, as well as the season in your country. Metal can also be dangerous for poultry health, so we recommend avoiding this material in the heat. However, a major benefit of this material is that it’s great for chicks who tend to nibble on the corners of their box.
Wood Nesting Boxes for Chickens
Another potential material is wood. This is less durable than other materials and needs replacing more often, so bear this in mind with your budget. Wood also makes for cheap nesting boxes for chickens as the material is inexpensive. Wood makes gathering eggs easier because if an egg breaks, it doesn’t stick to this material. As you can easily adjust and cut wood, this is an ideal material to make at home if you’re inexperienced.
Galvanized Steel Bins for Chicken Nesting Boxes
Finally, galvanized steel bins are useful if you have more than a handful of chickens, as keeping the boxes close together makes them quicker and easier to clean.
Here are some additional resources:
- The Secret to Keeping Your Nesting Box Clean via FreshEggsDaily.com
- Storye’s Guide to Raising Chickens
- Build Your Own Nesting Box Plans
- All You Need to Know About Nesting Boxes
- Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens… Naturally by Lisa Steele
- The Backyard Chicken Forum
- Small Chicken Coop
Now go plan great things and start raising some chickens!!!
Your thoughts: Do you have experience with your own DIY nesting boxes? Feel free to share your link below.