Nest boxes are a core part of any coop, especially if you operate a large egg laying operation. Laying Nests help encourage your hens to lay consistently in the same area. They also make egg collection easier for the flock owner. While it doesn’t ensure they will lay all of their eggs there, once they get used to laying there it will become quite habitual.
Many coops will come with nests built inside them. However, if they don’t, you will want to purchase a quality nest box or built them yourself.
There are many different shapes and sizes of nest boxes. Some will come as a single box, while others will have 2, 4, 6, 8, or even 10 nests. The number of nest boxes you want you will need will of course depend on the size of your flock of laying hens. Just 1 nest box can usually often suffice for 4-5 hens.
Nest boxes are generally made from either wood or a combination of metal and plastic pieces. Wood nest boxes are great, especially if you are building your own. They look good in a barn, are relatively inexpensive to build, and they hold up well if you use quality wood and they don’t get wet. However, if you are in a particularly humid climate, or if you are concerned with keeping the nest boxes very clean, wood may not be your best option. Wood does rot and deteriorate over time, and bacteria from chicken poop or other sources can build up in the spores of the wood. This can make disinfecting a bit more difficult. Metal and plastic nets boxes will hold up to variable conditions much better than wood, and many have removable nest bottoms for easy cleaning. Because there are no wooden parts, they can be completely disinfected as well. If biosecurity is a major concern for your farm, we recommend a metal or plastic nest box. To each his own though!
Many nest boxes have a roll-out design. This feature allows the eggs to roll down into an egg collection tray in the front or rear of the unit. A roll-out nest box has many benefits over the traditional nest box model. If you have ever raised laying hens before, you know that sometimes the hens will break, crack, or soil the eggs before you’re able to collect them. The roll-out model prevents the hens from accessing the eggs after they finish laying. The roll-out model also makes egg collection much easier. You will never have to worry about moving hens to get to the eggs if you’re collecting during the day.
The roll-out model also helps reduce broodiness. When the eggs don’t build up in the nest, it reduces the chances of a hen deciding that it is time to set. Broody hens are certainly a nuisance to any layer flock owner. For these reasons, we think getting a roll-out nest box is a no brainer, especially for larger flocks. Thankfully, eFowl has a very nice selection of both traditional and roll-out nest boxes in all sizes.
It can help your hens get comfortable laying if you seclude the nest box and put down some dummy eggs. Dummy eggs show her that that is where she is supposed to lay. You can never expect every single egg to be layed in the nest box. Despite this, nest boxes will definitely help save you time looking for them should you not have a nest box. Read more in our Nest Box Buyers Guide.
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