Keeping chickens in the garden or small farm has become a popular hobby. Chickens are attractive and beneficial pets, eating insects, leaving fertiliser and producing eggs. Collecting eggs is a daily event and having nest boxes for the hens is a necessity. Hens need a safe, dark and clean place to lay their eggs. Roll-away laying boxes allow for relocation of the nests as well as easier access for cleaning behind and underneath them.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Cardboard box
- Plywood or particle board (optional)
- Swivel castors (small wheels)
- Nails or screws
- 1.25 cm (1/2-inch) or larger poles or dowels
- Construction glue
- Electric or hand saw
- Electric or hand screwdriver
Get a cardboard box. Remove the top flap and side flaps of the box. Trim the bottom flap by half and tape or hot glue it to the box sides to form the nest's front.
Turn the box over and add the wheels. Glue the swivel castors on with a hot glue gun, or punch holes -- corresponding to the castor's screw openings -- in the bottom of the box. Thread the string or wire through the box's holes and tie the wheels to the bottom of the box.
Put another cardboard nest box on top. Cut a square of thin plywood to fit the roof of the bottom box, or glue strips of wood to reinforce its top. Glue the top nest to the reinforced bottom box.
Take a small cupboard and remove the doors, or leave one door on for a single nest. Be sure the cupboard is stable and not prone to tipping.
Cut plywood, or the cupboard doors, to section off the different nests. Partition the nests according to bird size -- bantam or standard. Be sure to allow larger nests for the standard or heavy breeds.
Carefully tilt the cupboard on its side and screw the furniture castors to the four base corners. Add ramps or poles to the front of the cupboard for the hens to access the nests.
Build a box out of plywood or particle board. Consider the length and height according to how many nests you will need and the size of the chickens. Hot glue thin plywood or screw, or nail, together thicker plywood.
Turn the box upside down and nail or screw on the swivel casters. Place one caster in each corner.
Partition the box with panels. Use cardboard or plywood for the partitions. Glue the panels in, or if they fit tight, just wedge them in. Consider wedging if reconfiguring the partitions will be necessary.
Add a top tier of nest boxes to a sturdily built box. Secure another nest box section on top of the first by using construction grade glue, nails or screws.
Tips and warnings
- Hens like a dark place to nest. The nest holes should be slightly larger than the bird, but not too large. Consider having enough space for the bird to turn around in the nest. Hens must stand to lay, so the box must be as high as the bird is tall with a few centimetres to spare.
- Do not make too many boxes as birds tend to choose a few favourite boxes. Don't be surprised to find only a few boxes being used.
- Use wood and mouldings to construct a decorative and attractive nest box. Use veneered plywood instead of regular construction material.
- Keep all nest boxes in a safe and clean area of the coop. They must be cleaned regularly and the nesting material changed.
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