Aside from the traditional wood nesting box made by nailing four pieces of wood together, a number of innovative nesting boxes can be made out of recycled materials. A laying hen needs a nesting box that will make her feel comfortable and safe while laying her eggs. If you provide a nesting box that meets these basic needs, a hen will lay her eggs in the box. The ideas you come up with as to how you build your nesting boxes, depend on the materials you have readily available.
Take a 5-gallon bucket and lay it on its side. Fill the back of the bucket with straw. Place a 2-by-4-inch board on each side of the bucket to keep it from rolling. Lay a 4-by-4-inch board in front of the bucket to keep the eggs from rolling out. The security of the bucket and the shape entices hens to enter and lay their eggs. This type of nest works best for bantam to standard size breeds. If you want to use a bucket for larger breeds of chickens, cut the bucket in half and make a nest out of each of the halves. Clean the bucket when the straw becomes soiled by simply dumping out the straw and washing the bucket with a garden hose.
Tape the ends of a cardboard box closed with duct tape. The box should be a minimum of 12 inches square. Turn the box on its side and cut a circular hole in the side with a serrated steak knife. The hole should have a diameter of 12 inches to allow any size chicken into the box. Fill the bottom of the box with 3 to 4 inches of straw or pine shavings. When the box becomes soiled, simply throw it away and make a new one.
Visit your local craft store and find a basket made of willow or wicker. Find one that has a diameter of at least 12 inches. The depth of the basket needs to be at least 8 inches. Fill the bottom of the basket with 3 inches of pine shavings or straw. When the litter gets soiled, dump it out and add more. Baskets come in a number of styles, but you need to get one without a handle.
Fill a plastic tub with 3 inches of straw or pine shavings. The tub needs to be big enough to hold the chicken while she's laying her eggs. The plastic makes it easy to clean when dirty, and the lack of hiding places make it a sanitary nesting box that insect pests won't populate. Plastic tubs can be found in the kitchenware section of most home retail stores. The tub needs to have a depth of at least 8 inches.