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How Many Nesting Boxes to Have Per Chicken

When you start raising chickens and getting everything set up in your chicken coop, a common question many chicken keepers have is, how many nesting boxes per chicken is necessary. So keep reading to learn just how many boxes you really need!

Hens standing outside of their nesting boxes

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It’s pretty likely that your hens are all going to want to share the same boxes but I’ll go over what’s recommended.

If you already have hens I’m sure you have discovered that hens love to share the same laying boxes, often at the same time even!

Pretty much on a daily basis, I will have two hens laying in one nesting box at the same time with multiple boxes free.

They just seem to want the same box and I don’t believe there is anything you can do to break them of it.

But either way, it’s a good practice to have the recommended space available for hens to lay.

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How Many Nesting Boxes Per Chicken

A good rule of thumb is to provide one nesting box per 4-6 hens.

But even if you only have a few chickens I’d recommend having at least two boxes minimum.

At one point I had 40 hens and 8 boxes and they all seemed to lay in only three boxes.

Here and there they would spread out and maybe use five of the boxes, but I’ve never collected eggs out of all 8 boxes in the same day.

So if you notice the same thing amongst your backyard chickens there isn’t anything to worry about, hens are just great at sharing space haha!

Two hens inside the same nesting box

Chicken Nesting Box Requirements

There is really no set requirement on what you have to use as a nesting box. Hens will pretty much lay in anything.

You can use wooden nesting boxes, metal nesting boxes, milk crates, etc.

Then just make sure you have a good nesting material like these nesting pads so you’ll have fewer broken eggs and they’ll be easier to clean.

If you let your chickens free-range it’s common to find hidden piles of eggs in the bushes or between hay bales because when hens have their choice, they like to lay in safe dark places.

So that’s why it’s important to set up your boxes so that hens will prefer to lay inside the coop. In this article I will give you all the information you need for setting up your boxes, Chicken Nesting Boxes: All You Need to Know.

Quick Tips for Good Nesting Boxes

  • Have one nesting box per 4-6 hens or 2 boxes minimum, if you only have a few hens.
  • The dimensions should be about 14 x 14 x 14 inches so that larger breeds will be able to fit with no problems. But 12 x 12 x 12 inches should work perfect for most chicken breeds.
  • Fill the boxes with good nesting material.
  • Keep the nesting material clean by cleaning your chicken coop often.
  • Make egg collecting a daily habit. Collecting your eggs frequently helps keep them cleaner and you’ll have less broken eggs.
  • Put your boxes below your chicken roosts which will encourage the chickens to use the roosts and not the boxes as a roosting area. Chickens prefer to use the highest area in the coop to roost.
  • If you’re building your own nesting boxes, make the top of the boxes slanted so that chickens can’t stand on top. This will keep the boxes cleaner since they won’t be able to stand on top and poop.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to build chicken nesting boxes?

When I built my boxes I used plywood for the boxes and 2 x 6 boards for the legs.

How many nesting boxes do I need for 6 chickens?

Even though it is recommended to have one box per 4-6 hens, if you have 6 hens I would have a minimum of 2 boxes.

Additional boxes won’t hurt anything, the hens will just likely share 2-3 boxes anyways even if you add more hens to your flock.

How to stop chickens from pooping in their nest box?

This may be one of my biggest pet peeves in the chicken coop because when hens lay their eggs in a box with chicken poop your eggs get dirty right away.

The key is to prevent your chickens from sleeping in the boxes. The most effective solution to that is to make sure the chickens have plenty of roosting space which is about 1 foot per chicken.

How to keep chickens from sleeping in the nesting box?

The best thing you can do is provide your chickens with plenty of roosting space and make sure the roosts are higher than the boxes.

Chickens instinctively prefer to go to the highest area to roost which is their way of staying safe at night.

How high should the boxes be?

Boxes should be at least one foot off the ground to prevent other critters from getting in the boxes but no higher than 3 feet.

Any higher can make it difficult for some chickens to get in and out.

What to put in the nesting box?

A few good options are nesting pads, pine shavings, or straw.

The problem is that hens like to toss out nesting material no matter what you use.
So I like to put the nesting pads in all of my boxes and then top them with pine shavings so that the nesting pads last even longer.

Are you just getting started with raising chickens or thinking about getting some for the first time?

If you are thinking about getting chickens for the first time I have a great article to help you out. Check out How to Get Started With Raising Chickens.

Or if want to dive deeper I have an ebook! Click below to learn more.

Want to dive deeper?

Check out my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Chickens where I share all of the tips & information you need to raise a healthy flock of chickens!

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Two hens laying eggs in the same nesting box

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  1. In the “Quick Tips for Good Nesting Boxes” section you’ve got a typo or some such with “Have 4-6 nesting boxes per chicken.”

  2. They like to lay where another hen has already laid. So I’ve found that if I keep fake eggs in every box, they’re more likely to use all the boxes. It’s worked for us! Prior to that, they used to fight over ONE box. I collect eggs from every box now and there’s less drama. 🙂👍

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