Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nesting boxes

The best and least expensive nesting boxes are made from 5 gallon plastic buckets.
Round or square it doesn't matter, square buckets just stack easier. Check with your local restaurants to see if they have any they're throwing out. Many restaurants will give them to you free or at low cost.
Simply cut a hole in the lid or bottom and you have your instant sanitary nesting box. Make sure you leave a fairly large lip on the bottom edge. A 3 " lip should keep eggs from rolling out. Add straw or other nesting material to keep your eggs clean and the box is ready to go. Note: good nesting material such as straw eliminates most of the need for a bubblier to clean the eggs and instead of having to clean all your eggs you only have to clean a few. It can be screwed to a wall or placed in a wood rack. Be sure and mount your nesting box lower than the roost so the chickens do not try to roost in or on the nesting box. This will also keep them from defecating in or on the nest box. The plastic nesting box will be cleaner than a wooden box and will help prevent mites and other parasites. 
   Note; if you intend for your chickens to hatch their own eggs, be sure and place the nest box in a spot close to the ground. The mother hen will try to lead her chicks back to the nest they hatched out of each night. If the nest box is high off the ground the mother hen will not be able to get her chicks back into the nest and they may not survive. Not to mention the baby chicks trying to get out of the box high off the ground may fall to their death. The buckets also makes it easy to relocate the hen and her chicks if need be.
cat litter box re-purposed as a chicken nesting box
     Nesting boxes can be made from just about anything. The nesting box to the right was made from a cat litter box. Stones were placed on the lid to keep the box from blowing away in the wind and in front of the opening for easy access. A nesting egg (fake egg) is placed in the nest to encourage chickens to use the nest. Plastic Easter eggs also work really well for this. Be sure to weight the eggs down and glue them shut. Keeping in mind that a nesting box close to the ground is vulnerable to predators, I placed this one inside the chicken run for added protection.

Commercial nesting boxes are available such as the one above. And can be easily mounted to the inside wall of your chicken coop. 

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