Most folks breed chickens for either, meat or egg production. No matter whether you are breeding chickens for pleasure or for business, you will need nesting boxes, if you are breeding them for egg production. Nesting boxes are the small boxes added to the chicken coop in order to provide a place for the hens to lay their eggs.
The first thing you should determine is the number of nesting boxes in line with the number of chickens. Every 2 to 4 chickens should get one nesting box. The ratio of the number of nesting boxes to the number of hens should be 1:3. This ratio guarantees that every hen gets its own laying place.
After determining how many nesting boxes you need, should choose a layout for these nests. Nests should be arranged in rows one above the other, making egg collection easier. Take one side of the coop and start building the nests for your hens above each other. Go for individual nests that can only be occupied by one chicken at a time as this will minimize the egg cracking and egg fouling.
Making a door at the back of the nests will make egg collection a lot easier. Collecting eggs through this door will decrease the time you need to spend on entering the coop. Collecting eggs from the outside is a much better solution, especially if you have large number of hens in one coop.
Make the opening of the nesting box smaller than the dimensions of the nesting box itself. Also, make the height of the nesting box very small. This will prevent the hen from moving inside the box and keep it from kicking the eggs and breaking them.
Each nest should have a lip to prevent the bedding of the nest from spilling out. The lip is very important to keep the coop very clean and keep all the bedding inside the nest all the time. It is also very important to fix a rooster line in front of the nests to give the hens a way to climb to the nest and to stand on before jumping to the ground.
When you’re done building your nests, you have to to fill them with bedding. Keeping this bedding clean and changing it periodically is a must because the hen will lay eggs outside if the nesting box if it is not clean enough or the bedding is damp.
There are two choices of bedding—straw and wood shavings. Wood shavings are better than straw because they provide an extra dry surface for the hen to lay its eggs on. It also provides good support for the eggs and prevents them from cracking. Make sure that you change that bedding periodically and check it for dampness.
Changing the bedding and cleaning the nest from inside will help preserve the health of your hens. Hens always use their beaks to pick the wood or any object around them. This can lead to the splitting of wood chips that can hurt the chicken. Check your nesting houses on a monthly basis and see if there is any splintered wood lying around.
Breading hens in your back yard will provide you with eggs throughout the year, but you need to keep your hens healthy if you want them to keep laying. High quality nesting boxes will help keep your birds healthy, so don’t hesitate to spend a few dollars on them.