Whether you have an egg farm, hobby farm, or a couple of backyard chickens, your hens need a place to lay their eggs. The average laying hen produces 200 to 300 eggs per year, but without a proper nest space, many eggs may be trampled, damaged, or lost within the coop.
The best nest box gives hens a place to comfortably produce eggs throughout the year. These boxes provide a safe, private, and specific location for laying eggs. Using a nest box makes collecting eggs more convenient, eliminating time spent each day on an egg hunt.
The best nest box for a flock depends on a few considerations. Keep reading to find out what to look for in a nest box, and check out the top picks for some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Homestead Essentials 3 Compartment Nest Box
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rite Farm Products 6-Pack Poly Egg Nesting Box
- BEST FOR SMALL FLOCK: My Favorite Chicken My Cozy Nest Single Nesting Box
- BEST FOR MEDIUM-SIZE FLOCK: Harris Farms 2-Hole Nesting Box
- BEST FOR LARGE FLOCK: Duncan’s Poultry 4-Hole Standard Chicken Nest
- BEST FOR EXTRA-LARGE FLOCK: Duncan’s Poultry 8-Hole Hen Nest
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Nest Box
Your chickens require very little. A clean coop, chicken feed, and a dedicated place to lay their eggs. Finding the best nest box depends on the space available, the number of hens, and convenient design elements that make it easy to collect eggs and keep the box clean. When selecting a nest box, determine how these features work within your chicken coop before you bring the nest box home.
Size and Capacity
Size and capacity are important considerations when choosing a nest box. The number of chickens helps determine the type and size of the nest box that’s needed. There are one-level and tiered options, plus different size compartments available. The right size helps chickens feel enveloped in the space without feeling squished.
- One-level models are easy for birds to navigate and range in size from one box to multiple boxes grouped in a row. All of the nests and perches are located on one level and share ventilation holes.
- Tiered models have rows of nest boxes stacked on top of each other to maximize the available coop space. Placement of these boxes is important, as movement into and out of these boxes should not be stressful to birds. Tiered models with a perch or a ramp to higher levels makes navigation easier.
- The standard nest box size is a 12-inch cube. Smaller chicken breeds can comfortably use boxes about 10-inches cubed. Larger chickens need more room, such as a 14-inch cubed nest box.
- Four to five chickens fit in a standard compartment. Multiple chickens may occupy a single compartment at one time. If the ratio is off, too few boxes may create territorial issues and too many boxes create extra space for chickens to roost, sleep, and poop.
The type of material affects the ease of cleaning and the temperature inside the nest boxes. Typically, chicken nest boxes are available in plastic, metal, or wood.
- Plastic is a nonporous material, which is easy to keep clean. These boxes cost less than metal boxes but are more expensive than wood. In hot and cold weather, plastic retains less temperature, keeping birds more comfortable. Plastic lacks the sharp edges that come with other materials, making it safer for birds.
- Metal is a tough material that’s also nonporous and durable. These boxes are easy to clean and sterilize, which allows for a healthy environment for hens. However, metal boxes hold hot and cold temperatures, which can affect the birds’ comfort. This material is usually more expensive.
- Wood is the most common material in traditional nest boxes. It’s inexpensive and looks natural, which many people appreciate. The downfall with wood is that it’s harder to keep clean. The porous quality of this material holds moisture and provides an opportunity for bacteria and pests to grow. Sealing wood boxes with paint makes them easier to clean.
Nest boxes may have several handy features including a roll-away design, covered or open box styles, ventilation, slanted roof, and a perch.
- Roll-away designs include a slight angle on the box’s floor that allows eggs to roll to a covered compartment that keeps them safe. The covered compartment is a convenient place to gather eggs.
- Covered nest boxes offer more privacy and comfort to chickens. It’s a more cave-like design that uses partial front closures to discourage indoor roosting. It’s also easier to close off when hens finish laying their eggs for the day.
- Open nest boxes have high edges to keep the nest material inside. The open design makes it easier to see what the chickens are doing, and it’s harder to prevent chickens from roosting through the night. They may offer more mounting placement options than covered boxes.
- Ventilation includes holes or slats that let moisture and carbon dioxide out and fresh air in. Angled slats or asymmetrical ventilation holes on each side of a box minimize drafts.
- Slanted roofs discourage roosting by creating an uncomfortable surface. It may be a slippery material, like plastic, to further discourage roosting.
- Perches help hens hop in and out of boxes. They are especially helpful on boxes mounted higher up. Some perches are hinged and can be folded up at the end of the day to deter hens from roosting inside at night.
Ease of Cleaning
When a nest box is easy to clean, it may be cleaned more often. As nest boxes hold eggs that are often for human consumption, these boxes require regular cleaning. Many boxes have removable bottom trays for easy cleaning. Nonporous materials like plastic and metal are easy to wash off with warm water and do not absorb moisture. Boxes mounted higher off the ground (from 2 to 4 feet) also tend to stay cleaner longer.
Tidy boxes also encourage chickens to keep using them rather than find somewhere else to lay their eggs. Most importantly, clean boxes harbor less bacteria and parasites that can make chickens sick. Sick chickens produce fewer eggs.
The size of the nest box and the space available within a chicken coop influence where the box is placed. Laying hens prefer a dark, quiet area away from the traffic of the flock, so position the nest box away from the action and out of direct sunlight. When selecting a location, consider the egg retrieval plan, as the boxes’ placement also needs to be convenient for you.
Mounting a nest box makes it easier for egg collection, helps give the hens some privacy, and may even protect them from some predators. Many chicken keepers mount boxes either on the floor or attached to a wall. For safety and removability, fasten the boxes with screws rather than nails and ensure the boxes feel secure and not wobbly for chickens.
When mounting on a wall, position the nest box a few inches off of the ground. It shouldn’t be placed higher than the roosting poles within a coop. Chickens seek the highest roost at night, so nest boxes (particularly those with flat roofs) should not compete for the highest spot in the coop.
Our Top Picks
Healthy and comfortable chickens lay more eggs. The top picks include some of the best nest boxes based on the shopping considerations shared above. Since everyone’s needs are different, the specific award categories provide options for top nest boxes that can suit various needs.
Homestead Essentials’ three-compartment nest box gives chickens the privacy they need to lay their eggs. With an overall size of 31.5 by 20.5 by 20 inches (including the handles), these compartments fit 12 to 15 chickens comfortably. Chickens stay cozy inside the 15-inch-deep box that has a netted base that filters through unwanted materials, so the boxes stay clean with minimal maintenance. The slight tilt of the roll-away design encourages the eggs to gently roll forward into a secured container, remaining intact until it’s time to collect the eggs. Gather them up by lifting the handle that doubles as a chicken perch.
Using materials that resist rust, rot, and corrosion, these nest boxes last many years. The box uses ventilated galvanized metal siding for privacy and a slanted roof that discourages roosting. Plastic egg trays and tray lids are easy to wipe clean with some hot water. Mounting hardware does not come with these nest boxes.
When there are not enough nest boxes for the chicken flock, consider these plastic boxes from Rite Farm Products. An affordable price point offers six open-air beds that fit up to 30 chickens in a modular design. The design allows users to mount the boxes however they fit best in the coop (vertically or horizontally). These nest boxes stay secured to the wall with a four-hole mounting pattern. Each box is 12 inches wide and deep and 10 inches tall. Angled walls and a 3.75-inch front edge helps chickens feel secure and avoid spilling nest material as they scratch around. An egg-shaped opening at the back gives users the option of retrieving eggs from the outside of the coop.
The high-density, tough plastic is more affordable than metal, doesn’t rust or corrode, and doesn’t retain heat or cold, keeping hens comfortable. Washing out the boxes is easy thanks to the plastic material and a convenient drainage hole.
Backyard farms with only four or five chickens usually only need one nest box. My Cozy Nest has an option that may please even the fussiest of chickens. Made from high-quality and UV-resistant polypropylene, this nest box is a cinch to keep clean. Chickens feel secure nesting inside as the design includes a privacy curtain that lets in minimal light and offers greater privacy.
The angled airflow vents help regulate the temperature while remaining draft-free. On the outside, the sloped roof is too uncomfortable for roosting, so hens are more likely to use the box as intended. The plastic step perch makes it easier for chickens to get into and out of the nest box. The inside edges have some additional height to keep nest material inside, even with messy birds around. Use the built-in mounts to easily install the box wherever it’s convenient. With a size that’s approximately 20.5 by 16.5 by 20 inches, this nest box is just right for a few birds.
Harris Farms’ two-hole nest box suits homes and small farms with around 10 chickens. A simple design made from rust-resistant galvanized steel makes it easy to wipe the nest boxes clean, creating a healthy nesting atmosphere for hens. Measuring approximately 24 by 12 by 21 inches, there’s enough comfortable space for hens to share the two compartments.
Eggs can be retrieved from the partial front or open back of the nest box, depending on how they are mounted. Folded edges in the construction keep the nest material from spilling out, and ventilation holes on the siding keep fresh air circulating for the hens. The steep angle of the roof makes it impossible for even stubborn hens to roost. Pull out the bottom metal inserts for quick and efficient cleaning, and fold up the perch to effectively close the nest boxes for the day.
This four-compartment nest box from Duncan’s Poultry has enough room for 20 chickens to nest comfortably. Hens feel safe laying their eggs inside with two full walls, a high partial back wall, and a tall lip at the front. The walls include big ventilation holes, which improve the airflow inside for the added number of hens. These ventilation holes are especially handy to keep chickens cooler when it’s hot outside.
The nest boxes are made from thick, long-lasting galvalume metal and the wide, comfortable perches are made from upcycled lumber. Eggs are best retrieved from the front as the high siding of the partial back wall may feel awkward to maneuver around. A steeply angled roof ensures chickens are unable to roost. Removable nest box bottoms make cleaning simple, so chicken keepers may be more likely to clean them more often. Mount this box securely using the keyhole-shaped hangers.
Bigger hobby farms and chicken farms with up to 40 birds need a cozy place for hens to produce eggs. This Duncan’s Poultry eight-compartment nest box is an excellent choice to keep all of the laying hens in one area. With an overall size of 52 by 20 by 34 inches, the space-saving design takes up a few feet within the coop, but users only need to find a home for one nest box instead of several.
Each compartment is 13 by 13 inches and made of tough galvanneal metal that’s easy to clean. Chickens can fly to the upcycled lumber perch on either level to get into and out of the box. All of the side panels have large ventilation holes to keep hens at a comfortable temperature during the summer. The slanted metal roof ensures that no chickens can roost on top of the nest box, even if it’s placed higher than other roosting poles. Use the keyhole mounts to hang this nest box on the wall.
FAQs About Nest Boxes
If you are in the process of choosing which nest box best suits your flock of chickens, making a decision is easier with as much information as possible. Before selecting the new nest box, check out the following answers to some frequently asked questions about nest boxes and their optimal sizes.
Q. What is the best material for a nest box?
Nonporous materials like plastic and metal are easier to clean and tend to be longer lasting.
Q. Do nest boxes need to be in the coop?
Ideally, yes, nest boxes need to be in the coop. Placing them away from the coop can be problematic for chickens and may encourage them to lay eggs elsewhere.
Q. How high should chicken nest boxes be?
Mount nest boxes 2 to 4 feet off the ground to make egg collection and cleaning easier. For chickens that don’t fly well, closer to the ground is better, unless you build them a ramp to get to the nest box.
Q. How many nest boxes do I need for 4 chickens?
Using the rule of four to five chickens per box, one box is usually sufficient.
Q. How many nest boxes do I need for 6 chickens?
Two boxes should be fine for six chickens. However, chickens may show a preference for one box over another.
Q. How many nest boxes do I need for 10 chickens?
Two or three boxes usually works well to accommodate 10 chickens. Territorial chickens may not be as inclined to share, so three boxes may be better.