If you keep chickens at home, building nesting boxes for the hens can drastically increase egg production. Chickens may develop a habit of eating their own eggs, or they may not feel comfortable laying eggs in exposed, unprotected spaces. Constructing your own chicken nesting boxes is relatively simple and will help alleviate these problems.
What You'll Need
Chicken boxes are most easily constructed, not surprisingly, from wood. Pine boards and plywood will work nicely and allow a simple construction using brackets and screws or nails. Various plans call for different materials lists, and a number of detailed chicken-nest box plans are available online.
In general, be sure the plans include individual nest boxes that will be big enough for hens to comfortably fit. Dimensions of at least 12" x 12" for each box are advisable. Small enclosures will keep the chickens from standing in their boxes, soiling the nests and kicking straw onto the floor of the chicken coop. 12" x 12" is a safe standard.
Several rows of nesting boxes may sit on top of one another; consider a slanted roof for the top row, so that the chickens will not be able to roost atop the box. Should they do so, they may lay eggs that willroll to the ground and break.
Nesting boxes may range from very simple to fairly sophisticated. Some even contain egg chutes to move freshly laid eggs away from the chickens to discourage egg-eating. Others feature both front and back openings so that it's not necessary to enter the chicken coop and disturb the hens in order to collect eggs. A back opening can also make cleaning easier. Various plans exist; browse several to evaluate which box style will work best for your needs.
Most chicken box plans call for the nests to be raised above ground level, presumably to protect eggs from snakes and other predators inside the coop. You may also consider creating a "lip" across the front openings with a strip of wood, to better contain the straw and eggs.