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Written by Carole

Are you a do-it-yourselfer (DIY) chicken farmer or trying to raise chickens on a budget? There are a wide variety of sources available online and locally to buy poultry equipment but sometimes it is just plain fun to come up with something for yourself and watch as the chickens enjoy your efforts. Not to mention the cost savings from using household items just waiting to be put to use.  So let’s explore some items you can use to make homemade nest boxes for chickens.

Keep in mind when creating your chicken coops nesting boxes are not a necessity. They are actually a benefit to you in helping to have a central location for your hen to lay an egg. No need for egg hunting, all you do is go gather your eggs in one location. It also gives a place for broody hens to raise some chicks. Every now and then you may have a renegade hen or two that refuses to use the resources you supply but for the most part once trained where to go they will use it on a consistent basis.

So with these things in mind what could be some good items laying around the house that would make a good chicken nesting box?

  1. The first thing that comes to my mind is a milk crate or a plastic crate. Turned on its side and nailed to the wall it is a handy item and stack well also if you wanted to stack one on top of the other.
  2. An old dresser drawer. I saw this somewhere and cannot remember where but thought it was an excellent idea. And if you want you can section the drawer off for multiple boxes.
  3. Five gallon buckets. Cut it in half and attach to a wall and you have two nest boxes.
  4. PVC Pipe. A 10″-12″ diameter pvc pipe cut into 12″ section and fasten them to the wall. To fasten to wall take a 1×2 piece of wood of larger, cut the length of the pipe and attach to wall. Then screw the pipe on each end of the wood. (I got this idea from searching on the net for homemade nest boxes).
  5. Cardboard box. This would be a temporary fix if nothing else is available.
  6. Build your own out of scraps of plywood. Boxes should be around 10″ to 12″ wide.
  7. Pet carrier.

I’m sure there are a variety of ways and if you want to share your creative ways to make do with what you have, please comment on this blog post.

To finish off this post, here are a few pictures I found that may give you some ideas:
Nest boxes Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket
Plastic nest Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket

For more ideas, visit Chicken Nesting Boxes.
I also found this website/blog that has a great tutorial on building a chicken nest box from a pallet.

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41 Responses to “Homemade Nest Boxes for Chickens”

  1. I think it is a great idea to use recycled items to make chicken coops and nesting boxes. At first I thought the cardboard boxes would become too soiled and too hard to clean, but then it occurd to me that you would just toss the dirty ones out and stick a new (recycled) carboard box it. What a great idea!

    Clance McDonald.

    Chicken Coop Planss last blog post..New design for chicken coop plans blog

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    Robin L. Felz Reply:

    It is a great idea.I laughed when my husband said cardboard boxes. I said my chickens would live in a box.They of course will be free range chickens.We have 73 acres,Planning on raising chickens for eggs for personal use as well as the possiblity of raising them for meat.We ghave goats which we raise and sell to farmers,ranchers,4 hers and one guy comes and buys them to take them to Claifornia etc as a herd to eat lawns and grass of businesses,estates,corporations etc

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  2. Could I possibly include this post in next week’s Homesteading Carnival? I’ll be putting it together this Sunday night. You can let me know at kurtshan@cinci.rr.com
    Thanks so much!

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  3. I love this idea. We are always looking for new way to use what we have and this is great.

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  4. We use the dresser drawers. Our ladies love them and they are pretty sturdy. One less trip to the dump which is always a good thing.

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    Jan Reply:

    Hi, I’m interested how you used the drawers for nesting boxes. Did you take off the front side of the drawer and then nail it to the wall? Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks!

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  5. Why dont you just use buckets, I have used them for yours and my daddy always used them, you just cut a half moon 2×4 and screw that at the opening of the bucket so the egg doesnt fall out and screw the back of the buckets side by side against a wall or board.

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  6. I use the plastic recycle bins that the garbage company doesn’t use anymore. I nailed them all along one wall. Funny thing though all my 10 hens lay in only one box. They just wait their turn.

    Wendys last blog post..Honeymoon Suite, Revisited

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    kiana thomposn Reply:

    great idea, I think i have several of those laying around!!!

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  7. I love the idea of using milk crates. I would not of thought of it but it makes perfect sense and we have tons lying around; I will have to try it out.

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  8. I like the idea of using dresser drawers . . . it reminded me that we have an old bookshelf outside. With a strip nailed in front, it would be perfect for chickens! It`s already divided into smaller sections.

    Expat Moms last blog post..A Fun Valentine Banner!

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  9. Just got my girls, we had a dresser draw high up, but they don’t seem to realise it’s there…, might try the milk crate idea, thanks.

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  10. gene worthington
    May 16th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    i use them to hatch my barred rock and ri reds cause they wont set

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  11. I’m all for recycling. I like the boxes it’s simply and easy to just throw out when it becomes too soiled.

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  12. One of the grocery store chains where I live has a portion of their store set aside for storing cardboard milk boxes. A person can take as many as often as they want. I use them as nesting boxes and when they get too soiled, instead of throwing them out, I use them as mulching or they go into compost. Works for me.

    Tony

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  13. well i think it is a good idea to go to a farm store and buy a nesting box i got one for only 16.00$ think about it

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    Thomas Allen Reply:

    I would NEVER buy something that can be made for next to nothing – especially since some of our chickens like to escape and lay their eggs in the tractor shed!

    $16? What’s that famous line by P.T. Barnum?

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  14. I found some ply wood out in a dumpster and made a laying hen
    nest box.

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  15. One practical suggestion, never build a chicken coop with four doors,… because that would make it a …chicken sedan. Sorry I just couldn’t resist a bit of poultry humor. LOL

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  16. Lots of great ideas here in the comments, too. I lol’d at the thought of the chickens waiting in line to use the one box… I imagined them all standing there like women at the theater restroom after the movies.. legs crossed, bouncing up and down ‘Gotta go! Gotta go!’
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Kitchen Update! =-.

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  17. DebraJoy Greenburg
    May 13th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you for all the GREAT nesting box ideas.
    How creative you are, and yes I am on a budget
    so it helps to use what I may have right now.
    Thanks again, and God Bless You.
    DebraJoy

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  18. My husband brought home some old childrens stackable plastic bins and I thought what am I going to do with these? Well I thought I do need nesting boxes. And am now giving it a try. I don’t want to stack them though, but will raise them off the ground with bricks and secure them to the coop with nails,maybe. I will have a row of about three along the ground and place a piece of ply wood on top to provide a little security for the hens to lay in. How does this sound?

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    Carole Reply:

    Dianna, I also use plastic milk crates in my coops. I mount them on the wall with screws or nails. The only modification I make is adding a piece of wood on the front of it so the nesting material and eggs do not fall out.

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  19. Hi Carole,
    Love your article. I got a funny story to share. I started out last year with a communal nesting area for five fowl. That was a big mess, some of my birds even broke (and ate?) some eggs. I heard a horror story that in extreme cases chickens turn cannibal. Do you think it’s true?
    Anyway, I started an experiment with cardboard boxes. That worked very well. The only problem was they get pecked and flecked very easy. So it’s not a durable solution.
    Then I just build six relatively large boxes with plywood. Problem now was they cuddled together in two of these boxes. They’re very social animals indeed. Seemed everything I tried was useless. So I downsized the boxes. (This is hours and hours of DIY for a couple of eggs ;) )
    This was the winner concept. Just make sure that no more than one bird fits in!
    Bless,
    Andy

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    Lynn Reply:

    yes, chickens will turn cannibal. If they are eating the eggs or each other, the offender should be culled out of the flock.

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  20. Using recycled goods for nesting boxes is really smart so I gotta give you a thumbs up for that. By the way if any of you wanna save some money on chicken coops you should check this article out.

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Chicke.....icken-coop

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  21. After having a much too fancy and cramped nesting box built by a friend go untouched by my chickens, I tripped over your site while researching specs. What wonderful ideas! I was going to use the cardboard boxes until I could come up with something better, but while harvesting them from the storage area I found some of those plastic coated metal closet organizer shelving my kids had left behind over a year ago. Nailed a board for a base, one for backing, it’s at perch level so I don’t think I need to top it. It sure looks more inviting than what was available. Thanks for the tips!

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  22. My neighbor used empty Tidy Cat plastic pails. The square yellow ones. The lid is made to open part way, so he cut off the large side and left the small side on. He has some in the summer coop. In the winter house he used screw to attach them to the wall. They work better than my high end nesting boxes and his hens love them!

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  23. I love the idea of using cardboard boxes..if it gets dirty just compost it!

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  24. My girl has an old “iglo” dog house inside the coop. An old used step ladder for roosting and the coop is an old smoke shack converted. I built the pen out of used pvc pipe that I got from a landscaper friend. Only had to buy the netting to enclose it. Recycling is the way to go!

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    Amy Reply:

    Lynn,
    I want to convert my unused Dogloo into a Chicken coup, could you send me a pic?

    thanks,
    Amy

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    LaDonna Anderson Reply:

    I too use my dog house for my nesting boxes I put three wooden nestiebox inside the middle size dog house. my hens use them they keep the chickens boxes clean. but I am going to try the cat litter buckets also.

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  25. A friend of mine used all kinds of unusual items for his nesting boxes, but the one I remember best was the old toilet he sat in his chicken barn. It was perfect size and height for his hens! My coop has a shelf with an edge on it, but no dividers. I’ll come up with a creative way to give the hens a little more privacy when laying their eggs . . . I’m just waiting for the inspiration!

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  26. We found 5 covered kitty litter boxes on FreeCycle that we use for nesting boxes. We prefer these over the built-in wooden ones so we can pull them out occassionally and wash them down.

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  27. Great ideas! I was thinking of buying or building a traditional nest box but now I’m thinking of using an old piece of large drainage tile that has just been laying out back. Will probably cut it in 12 or 18 inch lengths and stack securely in my coop.

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  28. My neighbor gifted two baby chicks to my young daughters yesterday. It was very nice and they love them to death. I need a coop for them now though. I am pregnant with baby number 4 and I have been given two different used cribs this time. My ex husband gave me one that was written on with marker and isn’t aesthetically pleasing, but its made from real wood. I am going to use that as a temporary coop for my chickens until our larger coop with a tractor run is completed. I am using the drawers from the changing table as nesting boxes. I am going to use plywood to cover the metal bottom of the crib add 4 pieces of wood around the base to hold in all the wood shavings. I will then cover all the bars with chicken wire and attach a shingled roof. The sides I will cover with hinged pieces of plywood so I can open them on bright sunny days and close them when its cold and rainy. I will run a heat lamp inside for them for when it is cold. When they are not forced to be cooped up because of bad weather they can roam free.

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    Chicken Eater Reply:

    Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiickens mmmmmm

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  29. I also think that the milk crates are a good idea, however you have to be careful if you have smaller breed chickens because unknowingly they could accidentally push out the smaller eggs through the holes in the crate, which then will break. I have bantam silkies and sometimes they do have smaller eggs which fall through the hole sometimes and get ruined. Though if you do have a big or bigger breed, you can easily get these milk crates from dollar stores such as family dollar which is where ive gotten mine. however my inside silkie whichi lives indoors with me has her own little set-up. A dog bed which she primarily sleeps in and lays eggs, or a kitty litter pan which is filled with hay and she occasionally lays eggs.

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  30. What I saw here was very informative but I decided, instead of me trying to build, I would just order one because I am so construction challenged and just knew that I would have a piece of ….. so my best choice was to order one. I am glad that I did. I got it in and it was very processional and lightweight so moving it around was easy. I got it out of Oklahoma at “the carpentershop.net”

    There was some really good info here and will help me with my egg laying dreams.

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