Low & No Cost Nest Boxes

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Low & No Cost Nest Boxes

If you’ve got birds for egg laying purposes, you may need to consider getting nest boxes. Chickens will lay in anything that seems cozy. Turkeys will typically use a nest box. Guinea hens tend to prefer open-topped boxes at floor level in a secluded corner. Quail can be encouraged to lay their eggs in an open nest box with a sand substrate. If you’ve got ducks… forget about it.

If you've got birds for egg laying purposes, you may need to consider getting nest boxes. You can buy a variety of nest boxes either online or at farm supply stores, but there are many cheap options.

I have heard stories of ducks using nest boxes, but they must be some sort of urban legend. My ducks have created a fun game of laying in the oddest places and then changing locations when I finally figure out where. Some famous laying locations for my ducks:

  • On top of the woodpile in a little dip in the tarp.
  • On the BBQ grill shelf.
  • Balanced on the top of the 5 gallon nipple waterer.
  • On the roof of the little coop.

If those locations aren’t strange enough on their own, it’s worth mentioning that these are big, fat, non-flying birds. How they get to these locations is beyond me. I felt it was a colossal joke at my expense for a while. Then I realized that my husband wouldn’t get up before me and move eggs for this long of a time.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Nest boxes. You can buy a variety of nest boxes either online or at a farm supply store, but there are many cheap options you can get at your local Wal-Mart or Dollar Store. There are even some free options using materials or items you probably have kicking around.

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“Cheep” and Free Nest Box Ideas

If you've got birds for egg laying purposes, you may need to consider getting nest boxes. You can buy a variety of nest boxes either online or at farm supply stores, but there are many cheap options.

  1. Metal Washing Bins
  2. Plastic Storage Bins
  3. Storage Totes
  4. Kitty Litter Buckets
  5. Cardboard Boxes
  6. Single Dish Pans
  7. Two Dish Pans
  8. Upcycled Furniture
  9. Wine Crates
  10. Plywood Boxes
  11. Covered Litter Boxes
  12. Milkcrates on Their Sides
  13. Upright Milk Crates
  14. Drywall Buckets
  15. Dresser Drawers

Nest Box Tips

The Size of the Box

The general rule here is the bigger the bird, the bigger the box. A bantam hen could easily use a small 9″ x 9″ box. A turkey will need a large 18″ x 18″ box. The nesting area does not need to be a series of individual boxes. Some birds enjoy using communal boxes (others however do not). My setup includes one large communal box that is 30″ x 18″ x 18″ and three individual boxes that measure 18″ x 18″ x 18″. If I have a hen that goes broody, she gets put in the communal box and gated off so no one bothers her. This is a good amount of space for her to keep her chicks the first few days after hatch before she is released back to the general population.

How Many Boxes?

The general rule of thumb is one nest box for every 3-4 hens. This is a guideline and like any good guideline, it’s a number to get you started. I start on the low side and see how my bird interact. If they are forming a line and yelling at one another every morning it’s time more boxes. Crowded boxes mean I might want to consider adding another communal box. If I have 3 boxes on top that never get used, but three on the bottom that are stuffed with birds, I could take the top three and put them at floor level. Movable boxes are a great idea.

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What to Put in the Boxes

You can line your nest boxes with just about anything. I enjoy giving my birds variety. Happy hens lay lots of eggs. Some options include:

  • Shredded newspaper
  • Pine shavings
  • Hay or straw
  • Sand
  • Pine needles
  • Grass clippings
  • Commercial liners

Think of the animal that will be using the box when considering what to line it with. You don’t want a wet duck nesting in shredded newspaper.

What do you use for your nest boxes? What do you line them with? Share in the comments below.

If you've got birds for egg laying purposes, you may need to consider getting nest boxes. You can buy a variety of nest boxes either online or at farm supply stores, but there are many cheap options.

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

Comments

Low & No Cost Nest Boxes — 9 Comments

    • I like to use things like hay or straw. I find that they don’t get mixed in like shavings do. My ducks actually prefer to make nests in the sand. Often the chickens will utilize the sand nests the ducks have created.

  1. I love all these clever ideas! We use a recycling bin from our trash service! It is the perfect size and I love that we can hose it out if it gets nasty. Pinned this one!

  2. When we had ducks, they all laid their eggs in the same little nest for months. I’ve been told that the best way to get all your ducks to lay in a reliable place is to keep them shut in their coop until about 8 or 9 in the morning. If we let them out earlier, they’d lay in their yard. It sounds like you free range your ducks, so, no telling if they come to a shut-able coop to lay in, but there’s my 2 cents.

    • Great tip Bonnie. In the winter my ladies choose to come in with the chickens at night to stay warm. Eggs are easy to find then. In the winter, however, they prefer to sleep in the great outdoors. I guess I can say it’s great exercise for the kids running around and trying to find them all. The highlight is that unless they are molesting, my Blue Swedish lay every single day, so you know how many you’re looking for.

  3. I like the looks of that old desk upcycle. 🙂 I have three nest boxes I built out of plywood but they’re all one unit.

    Wish I would’ve thought up front to have them each be independent and portable. That way I could move a broody hen without ever making her leave the nest.

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