Nesting Box Add-on for Chicken Coop

My original plan was to have the nesting boxes inside the chicken coop. I would build a simple box with two nests and place it inside along a wall. However I changed my mind on that.

Why? Because I wanted to leave more room for the hens inside. I have seven. It would be a little crowded after having placed a food dispenser and water in there. They’ll probably be inside a lot during the winter, so, a change of plans – after having already built the coop.

Hey, I needed another project anyway, right?

A few weeks ago I got out the Sawzall and cut two holes in the side of the coop for hen access to the eventually attached nesting box. The wall construction of the coop is a “insulation sandwich” with foam board in the middle, so I had to line the perimeter of those holes. Why? So the hens won’t peck at the exposed foam board. So I ripped and cut some lumber to accommodate that.

I cut a length of sheathing to temporarily cover those holes from the inside of coop until they’re ready to start laying eggs. Maybe another 4 – 6 weeks to go for first eggs…

Then I built the nesting box itself in the shop. I built all of the walls, floor, and roof utilizing the “insulation sandwich” method (it gets cold here during the winter). It takes longer doing it that way, but in the end I hope it helps.

Attached nesting box to chicken coop:

AS you can see in the picture, I also attached a heavy duty latch. We got bears, so…

We’re looking forward to finally getting our first eggs!

Next, I need to put up a perimeter chicken fence surrounding the coop / run area. This will give them a bit of semi-free ranging opportunity. Need to get 200′ of fence… After that’s done, I will add a electric fence wire around the outside of the chicken fence. Keep the bears and such out of there.

Will this project ever end?

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38 Comments

  1. Ken
    Looks nice!
    Bears? I shudder at the thought,,,glad we don’t have anything like that.
    Im thinking electric poultry net or poultry net plus from premier one for a foraging fence. I can move it around that way. Is much more expensive, but way more flexible.

    1. Kulafarmer,

      My chickens lasted about four months inside the electronet before the hawks found them. If I was to try chickens again, I’d build a light, low, enclosed, covered pen that would dock on the side of the chicken shed, that I could then move easily from one spot to another, pulling it back up to the shed at night.

      1. Dogpatch,
        Luckily we dont have those problems here, at first i was worried about my open pen but is only potentially an issue when the birds are small.
        Just in case i made a run for my babies under part of the netted garden.

      2. Hmmm… we have hawks and eagles here too. Now I’m starting to wonder about installing a perimeter fence to let them roam a bit… Mrs.J wants it, so…

        Anyone else ever had a problem with birds of prey getting your chickens?

        1. Yep. Little Buttercup was the first to go. :(

          I now have my coop where there is lots of brush ground cover as well as a protected place under the coop to scoot in to.

        2. Last year lost all but two free roaming chickens to owls, bald eagles, and chicken hawks.

        3. Ken,
          Raptors are a huge problem for almost everyone i know over on the continent, some folks still let their chickens roam but rarely just in an open fenced yard With no cover and certainly not with chicks.

        4. Ken

          Where I live, we have bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. While I’ve heard others talk about the danger, I’ve never lost a chicken to a raptor. I use electrified poultry netting for the meat birds, with a tarped, cattle panel hoophouse for shelter. When hawks are nearby, I notice all the chickens are either in the hoophouse, or very near it, still and quiet as rocks.

          With laying hens, they are allowed to free range, but are always accompanied by a rooster. He helps them find food, alerts them to danger, and will protect them to the best of his ability. I had a rooster fend off two hunting dogs that strayed into my area and were after the hens. I got there to relieve him, and the dogs ran off, after causing a slight wound to one hen, and a bit of saddle damage to the rooster. Sorry to ramble, just thought I’d mention that roosters are very good protection also.

          1. They are good protection, but they can be overly protective, like not wanting to let the humans near “his” girls…I have had good luck with roosters that were raised with the girls, but adopted as an adult that was low on the pecking order gets pretty full of himself once he gets to a flock of his own.

        5. Ken,

          Not just ‘birds of prey’, but scavengers also. When I had birds years ago, the magpies would go after chicks and ducklings. Have also seen crows go after young birds. They will tell you buzzards will only eat carrion, but I have seen several gang up on feral cats and take them down. I guess if food is scarce, you will see this sort of behavior.

        6. It also makes a difference what breed you choose. Some have had all the survival instinct bred out of them (rather like the “go broody” instinct).

        7. The fenced-in open area would contain one Maple tree on the edge, for shelter. But I suppose that in itself would provide perch for a predator bird to sit and wait. Maybe I could build a sort of mini-shelter out in the open. Like a lean-to or something like that for them to scoot underneath. If they were smart enough, they could just run back into the open door of the enclosed coop/run area. But they’re not very smart…

          Lots of considerations… would hate to lose the birds after all this work. But maybe with the right precautions. Thanks for all your input.

          1. We have a 14′ trailer that we haul lawn mowers on. Pretty easy for the birds to get under and have some shade. Even the guineas are smart enough to go there, and I swear they are the stupidest spazziest birds on the planet! Maybe a few double wide benches would make good cover. Though I do like your current bench.

        8. We have a lot of hens and two roos which free range inside an agra fenced 3/4 acre. We have hot wire on the top of the fence at about 5′ and another 12″ above the ground to keep all types of predators at bay. The top wire has fried 3 owls and 1 hawk when they decided to stop and pick out their dinner. The lower hot wire keeps the 4-legged predators away. We have old tree branches piled up and some old junk yard items scattered about the area where the chickens run to hide when the predators come calling. We also raise silky ornamental chickens who are dumber than rocks, so we put netting over their smaller area.

        9. Sure have, lost a few that way.
          I out the netting for fruit trees over their run, no air to ground casualties since.
          I have read that putting a grid of rope or yarn smaller than their wingspans is also effective, they think they cant get through…however I have no first hand knowledge that this is effective.

          1. I don’t know…after seeing a juvenile coopers hawk take out a quail through about a six inch space, I question it. The bean tower was about six inches from the back fence, and somehow the hawk made it around that corner for dinner.

          2. KevinH,
            Before we had the bobcat killing our birds, we had string over the chicken yard and it did indeed work!
            Just in random grid and it worked wonderfully well!!
            Unfortunately didn’t even slow a bobcat down. Had to go to chain link fencing on top and all the way around.
            PEACE
            MadFab

          1. – Don’t know if this group would consider this germane to the discussion, but I remember seeing a young shrike years ago catching grasshoppers. I watched him dive into a mesquite at one point; when he didn’t reappear with the grasshopper he was after, I walked over to the mesquite. I found him impaled on about a three-inch thorn, dead as could be. Could be why birds don’t like to dive into trees and bushes.

            – Papa S.

        10. Ken,

          I free range my chickens during the day, put them up at night. Only losses I’ve had to owls were in early evening (dusk dark) and a couple, several years back when a few hens had taken to early roost in a tree adjacent to the hen house.

          All my owl kills were marked by the head and neck being severed from the body and taken, leaving the carcass behind. Been told that they take that morsel back to the nest for their babies to feast on.

          Birds of prey are almost universally protected prey, so depredation prevention shouldn’t include elimination of the owl, eagles, or hawks.

          My deadliest, and most efficient predator by far is skunks. Lost nineteen birds in one night to a single skunk (to my knowledge, only one). Have heard others say that the missing head and neck is the mark of a skunk, that was not my experience. The morning after the carnage, I found the nineteen dead birds, wholly intact, with a spot on each neck where they had been bitten. An old timer neighbor told me it was definitely a skunk. He said a skunk (and other weasels) grabs the chicken, bites the neck, hanging on and licking blood as it drains from the bird. When the blood stops flowing, they grab another and repeat the process.

          Took the old timer’s word, waited up the next evening, secreted next to the chicken pen with a shotgun. Fell asleep waiting, but sure enough, about 10PM a ruckus in the hen house woke me. I lit up the run with the mounted light on the shotgun, and sure ’nuff, there was a skunk holding a hen down biting it’s neck. I ended his vampirish ways. Haven’t lost any more to skunks, but I don’t pass up the opportunity to eliminate them on sight.

        11. Ken your chickens need trees and shrubs to hide under, they are very smart.
          I’ve had hawks strike the top of the coop ( I leave it open so the chicken can run in) but hawks don’t drive into trees or shrubs, in my area.

        12. I just listened to a podcast the other day where some dude uses the bottoms of aluminum cans fastened to cones to keep away birds of prey. Apparently it refracts the sunlight and splays it all over so they can’t see anything. They’re really only a problem though if the area is wide open and they usually go for smaller birds.

      3. Dogpatch-

        You are talking about a chicken tractor. Look up Justin Rhodes, he has a lot of youtube videos and is a free ranging chicken expert. Lots of great ideas for mobile chicken devices and how to get the most out of your chickens free ranging. We are raising a bunch of meat chickens this year and we also put them inside an electro-net, they also have an 8×8 covered shelter to sleep in. So far so good! (knock on wood)

        Good luck!

  2. Ken,
    I’m still learning about chickens. My nesting box is very similar, for your stated reasons. I put the nesting boxes (3) up towards the top of the coop. The hens have no problem getting in or out. Did I do it backwards? Hopefully, it doesn’t really matter.

    1. Not sure exactly what you did, but, the nesting boxes should be lower than their nighttime roost. This will discourage them from sleeping in their nesting boxes because they instinctively want to be higher up when they sleep. They poop while they sleep, so that would be bad in the nesting box.

      My nesting boxes are at approximate floor level as they access through the holes I cut in the wall.

      1. Ken,
        Thanks for you thoughts. The floor of the nesting boxes, is slightly lower than the roosting boards. Just the way it worked out. The hens all seem to sleep on the roosting boards. I’ve had one hen get killed. I think it was an owl, but I didn’t witness the deed. We have owls who roost in some trees about 1/4 mile away. Could have been anything; eagles, owls, hawks, who knows.

        Ya might consider chicken tunnels???

  3. My dream chicken yard would be covered with probably chicken wire. The next door Mexican family finally gave up on chickens. They were letting them roam with out a yard. Guess they did not understand country critters. Maybe that is why the foxes moved in. Easy Chicken hunting!

  4. You do nice work. You must be a perfectionist. I would like to suggest you buy a couple of the fake ceramic eggs (or just a couple of golf balls) and put them in the nest boxes when you think they should start laying. Instinct then helps them to lay there. Otherwise they may just lay in the pen or wherever. Sometimes new layers see an egg and curiously peck at it. Better to have them learn there is nothing to gain pecking eggs by letting them satisfy their curiosity on a ceramic egg.
    My chickens free range if I am outside. They go back in a covered pen when I go in. The pen is covered with the plastic deer fencing I got at Menards.

    1. sam,
      Yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist. It drives me nuts sometimes. But I live with it ;) If something is crooked, I need to straighten it. If I build something that’s not lined up right, I need to do it again till it’s right. That kind of thing. Ugh…

      Thanks for the tip about ceramic eggs or golf balls. I do have some golf balls from a time period a number of years ago when I gave it a go… So I’ll try that when it’s time!

      1. You definitely do want to use the ceramic egg or golf ball trick. Once they figure out what is inside of the eggs, you cant break them of it and will need to cull…all this work just for a half dozen stew birds would suck!

      2. One of my grandfathers was somewhat of a perfectionist. He loved working with wood. The result was a project would take three times longer but it seemed he had infinite patience when it came to working with wood.
        Years ago I got put on a project working with this old timer building bridges for small creeks on logging and access roads. Most of the bridges were removed after logging was completed. I was pretty new at this company so I wanted to be as exact as possible when measuring, cutting, and drilling. The old timer noticed it took me a while doing this so he told me a saying I have been using since.

        “Were not building a grand piano, just the box it goes in.”

        I have used that saying since on projects that don’t require perfection.

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