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Lay Lady, Lay – How to Make Nest Boxes That Your Hens Love

Keep Your Nest Boxes Small

Hens prefer to lay in cozy, intimate places. If you choose nesting boxes that are too large, your hens won’t view them as “special” places for egg-laying. What you might get, then, are hens that lay all over the floor or in the grassy tufts in your yard, instead. If your hens aren’t laying in their nest boxes consistently, you may even get more egg breakage which often leads to hens eating their eggs. Assuming you want to be the ones to eat the eggs that your hens lay, this is not ideal. A big part of the solution is simply to choose smaller laying boxes. Try nesting boxes that fit no more than 4 hens comfortably. Another nice touch is to have a small “lip” on the outside of your hen laying boxes to create an even cozier feel and to keep eggs from rolling out.

Place Your Hen Laying Boxes in a Dark, Quiet Location

Hens prefer to lay in quiet, peaceful placed with dimmed lights. Do not disturb them during laying time and keep bright lights away from their nesting boxes.

Make Your Egg-Laying Boxes Soft and Comfy

Sure, a hen could lay an egg on a hard, wooden floor, but why would she want to…? Ouch. A better choice is to create a soft bed so that your hens can settle in, make themselves comfy, and lay their eggs. There are a number of different choices that a backyard chicken farmer could use for their chicken coop bedding, like: wood chips, wood shavings, peat moss, torn cardboard, coconut husks, straw, and hay.

Least Ideal Bedding Material Options (in my humble opinion)

I would steer you away from using wood chips in your nesting boxes, as they are a more expensive option and a bedding that hens don’t prefer if given a choice. Well, who can blame them? Wood chips are rather hard and pokey. Cardboard is a material that gets soggy and dirty with moisture, and that is made with a number of glues and chemicals to which you might not want to expose your hens. Perhaps not the best choice. Peat moss is a material that hens love, but it can also be rather expensive in many places. This might not be the best choice for most. Some materials can even be dangerous if used inside your hen laying boxes. Stay away from: 1) sawdust, as it can cause respiratory problems for your birds, and 2) cedar shavings, as cedar is toxic to chickens, especially younger birds.

Perfect Bedding Options for Your Hen Laying Boxes

If you want to make nest boxes that your hens will love, use soft, feathery materials like pine shavings, straw, hay, and coconut husks (if you can get those cheaply and plentifully where you live). Hens love laying in these materials, and tend to keep them clean. These choices can also be some of the most economical bedding materials to choose. You will need about 2 inches of bedding to pad your hen laying boxes well. A great trick is to pad the bottom of the nest box with your cheapest acceptable option – like pine shavings – and then add a thinner layer of straw on top.