Friday, August 8, 2014

Feathered Friday: Roomy, Easy to Clean Nesting Boxes

Part three in the building of our coop is all about our nesting boxes.  If you missed the first two installments, you can find them at these links:  pop doorwallboard.

Every hen wants a private, quiet spot to lay her (hopefully) daily egg.  And so, every coop needs to have nesting boxes for this purpose.  There are many commercially available options ranging from simple wooden boxes without tops to elaborate set-ups that have several boxes in one unit.  If you were to buy a pre-made coop--amish built for instance--the boxes are built in and usually stick out from one side with a sloped roof that lifts for easy access.  

But I'm not here to talk about all the other nesting boxes out there.  This is how my husband built the ones our girls will be using.  

A few notes about nesting boxes in general before we start:

  • Boxes should be at least one cubic foot.  (That's 1'w x 1'd x 1'h.)  Slightly bigger is fine, especially for larger breeds, but they shouldn't be any smaller, even for bantam breeds.
  • Roofs should be sloped to prevent chickens from sleeping on them, and thus soiling them.
  • There should be a lip at the front to keep the bedding inside the box.  
  • Nesting boxes need to be located lower than roosts to prevent chickens from using them as beds and soiling the the nesting material.  (Chickens roost at the highest point possible.)
  • They need to be filled with soft bedding that the chickens can fluff and move about.  
  • Since the hens like privacy when laying, curtains are a cute addition to the front of the boxes.
Here's how we built our girls their 8 boxes. . . 

After the walls and floors were in, we set a 2x4 on edge and laid it on the floor 15" from the back wall. (The measurement was taken from the wall to the inside edge of the board.)  This is the front lip of the boxes and was nailed into the wall using a framing nailer.  We then cut 9 15" pieces and placed them between the board and the wall, using one at each end, as well.  We started on the right and measured 12" from the inside edge of the one against the wall to what would be the inside edge of the next board and nailed it to the front board and the wall.  This process was continued until we got to the other wall. (So, each box is 12"x15"

Front and middle boards for nest box bottom frames.
Next, we put another long board up to frame the front top of the boxes.  I'm pretty sure this was 14" from the top of the floor board to the bottom of the top board.  Again we did the individual boards to frame out each box.  Because the top board was only attached to the side walls, we put an extra piece in where the center wall stud was located to add stability.  (This was actually strong enough for us to sit on.)

Top box framing with extra support piece.

We added 2x4s to the front of what would become each wall, too.  Then we nailed wall board to form the walls between the boxes.  This could have gotten very complex, but I kept Mr. Sheepish Gardener in check, reminding him that it is a chicken coop.  So, we stuck with one sided walls.

For the roof, we attached yet another long board to the wall at a height that would give an appropriate angle.  2x4 pieces were mitered to create stability at each side wall and the center stud on the back wall.  Wallboard was added.

Nest box walls and roof.

Finally, 1/4 round molding was used along the corners: everywhere the roof met the walls, the corners of the coop walls, and the back of the boxes where the back wall met the floor.

Completed boxes
The far left box is a bit larger--15"x15"
but the girls don't mind.

I am tossing around ideas for how I'm going to do curtains.  Once they get finalized,  of course I'll tell you how I did them.  I really think my boxes need curtains because the sun comes in through the windows all day, leaving a bit to be desired as far as privacy goes.  (By the way, I got the curtain idea from The Chicken Chick.) 

Have chickens?  How did you do your nesting boxes?

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