Chicken Nesting Boxes Made Simple

Anyone who follows this Self Sufficient site knows that we like to keep things as simple as possible.

If we can do something cheaply or for free then that is what we will do. A big part of a Self Sufficient Life is getting the best quality food at the cheapest prices.  This is where keeping Chickens is so invaluable. Chicken nesting boxes or Chicken Laying boxes can be a simple affair if we wish.

Hopefully you have read How To Build Chicken Houses For Free and are now on your way to the freshest Eggs imaginable. Here is a handy quick tip for a Chicken Nesting Box. As usual, many sites will over complicate building a Chicken Nesting Box and get hung up on exact dimensions etc etc.  Not here!

Some things simply don’t need to be complicated.

How To Make A Chicken Nesting Box

Chickens are not fussy Birds. Give them shelter, food and water and they will reward you with super tasty eggs. It’s as simple as that.

They like an area where they can lay their eggs in what, for them, would be a nice little nest if they were to get broody and sit on the eggs.

  • It needs to be big enough for the Chicken
  • It needs some bedding
  • It should be below where they perch or they will use it to sleep in
  • It should have a way of droppings not landing in it

They don’t ask for much.

Chicken Nesting Boxes Made Easy

Forget about having to build some complicated box. Here is a Chicken Nest Box we can all make.

  • Buy a cheap round plastic bowl
  • Cut out the front of part of it so the Chicken can walk in to it
  • Put some bedding in it
  • Secure a shelf above the box
  • Wait for Eggs

That was what I did.


The plastic bowls can be found very cheaply in discount shops. They are great because they can easily be cleaned and a round shape suits the Chicken perfectly. It is easy to cut a little area out of it for the Chicken to get access to the bowl.

Chicken Nesting Boxes Are Simple

I put ours on the floor and placed a shelf above them with a few logs and some bedding. The Chickens happily sleep on the shelf and within a few days they get the hang of laying in the bowls. These Chicken laying boxes work fantastically well.

If you want to build a Chicken Nesting Box very cheaply then this is the perfect answer. It will probably cost about what it would to buy half a dozen free range eggs that have been hanging around in a supermarket for a week or two!

Hen laying boxes can be made very cheaply if we wish.

For a more self sufficient future

44 Responses to “Chicken Nesting Boxes Made Simple”

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  1. Hi Mr and Mrs Dirty Boots,
    An interesting post and I lke the idea of the p[lastic bowl converted to make a nesting box. I recently read that you can use the old plastic milk crates and I had one lying around on the farm so gave it ago and have had some eggs in it.
    Kind regards
    Sara from farmingfriends

    • Hey there – we think its easy to get too worried about having the ‘right’ equipment but it makes much more sense to use what you have and what’s readily (and cheaply) available.

      Hens don’t know if you spent a fortune on things from shops or made it in 10 minutes!

  2. Henrietta says:

    Unusable 5 gallon buckets, bail removed, on their side, chocked with rocks, dirt or sticks, small amount of bedding and away you go, no need to buy anything, works for hens under 7 pound mature weight. We also use recycled very large pots for nests, and drawers or bins from dead refrigerators for water tubs. We don’t cut them down the hens have no trouble climbing in. If chickens are inside or under a roof cardboard boxes work just fine and you can compost them when they inevitably fall apart.

    • Bonita Rankey says:

      Just today I found 3 bureau drawers by the roadside, someone’s trash, took them home, only one had a drawer pull still on it. I joined them together, put dividers between them and painted the whole thing. Three free next boxes.

  3. Henrietta says:

    If the buckets have been used for paint it is best to clean thoroughly because the chickens will peck at flakes.

  4. This is a great post and a great blog in general. I’d like to build one myself. I’m just curious, how big of a space do the chickens need to roam around?


    Green Business Guy’s last blog post..tańsze domeny w

  5. Henrietta, great tips. Why pay for stuff when you can come up with free ideas. Sounds like you have lots of great frugal tips.

    Green business Guy, it is entirely up to you. Any amount of outdoor space is great. It really doesn’t need to be a big area, they will happily peck away at whatever ground they have.

    Obviously though, the bigger the better, but if you only have limited space I wouldn’t let that stop you. Chicken nesting boxes don’t take up any room either.

  6. nested boxes says:

    How to do paper nested boxes ?

    nested boxes’s last blog post..Round Paper Nested Hat Boxes

  7. Great articles & Nice a site….

  8. Bronze Witch says:

    Just found your site – wow! What I’ve been missing!
    We just built a hen house, and will get the chickens next week. My question is, how cold is too cold to let them out? Can they stand it for long in that dark little shed? What temps can the “ladies” tolerate?

    • Hi Bronze Witch,

      I don’t know exact figures but bear in mind that they are birds and can handle the cold. We are in Spain but have always opened the door every day, even when it is snowing. If you let them outside they will decide for themselves when to go back in to the house.

      They are fine in the chicken house whatever the weather. Just try to make sure it is not too draughty when the weather is bad. Apart from that they are very tough birds and handle the cold very well. They can warm up the coop from their body heat and will huddle together if they feel cold.

      Hope this helps.

  9. Daniel says:

    Very creative of you. I guess ingenuity is the mother of invention. This idea just proves you don’t have to be fancy to be effective.

  10. craig says:

    Your Chicken coop looks really great it must have taken a while to build, i had some chicken plans of my own and they came out pretty good too.

  11. Jef says:

    Just browsing some of your previous posts. While I’m not ready to raise any chickens yet I have a friend who is setting up a coop and will be doing it in an urban location( with the approval of her neighbors) so I will make sure to send her here to get some great ideas.

  12. Rick Nelson says:

    I was fixen to use some hubcaps off my van, an put some walls up each side and a top. Would this work?

  13. Tanya says:

    What a great website! We have 4 chickens that are 6 months old and sleep in an A-frame ground hutch at night and come out during the day. I built nesting boxes w/ rectangular planters, using cardboard as dividers, then filled each section w/ shredded paper. They chickens enjoyed pecking at and eating some of the paper and now that it’s been raining it got wet thru the front screen of the hutch. My question is, how big of a hutch is needed in order for the hens to feel comfy to lay eggs in their boxes? And can the nesting boxes be kept outside (so long as their checked daily by our children!) Thanks!

    • Hi Tanya,

      I don’t think a particularly large hutch is necessary, but they will need 6 to ten inches of perch space each depending on their size. Ours don’t have perches really (since they were ignored), but have a 5 foot shelf that they sit on.

      Generally inside is preferred for nesting boxes – this is where they should feel safe and cozy inside out of the wind and consider their eggs to be safe. That being said ours are currently refusing to lay in the nest box itself but are instead opting for various cozy corners of their house in sawdust or straw with the occasional egg layed outside too, so its hunt the egg fun every day. One nest box should be plenty for 4 hens which will give you more room in the hutch. We have had 2 previously, but currently just the one that they used to take turns on and are now completely ignoring!

      If they are eating the paper you probably should use something else (unless you’re forking out on organic recycled paper of course!). For a long time I simply dried grass clippings and used those very successfully and cheaply, but since the mower died we’ve switched to the sawdust/straw combo.

      Hens are pretty tough and will ignore many of your best efforts to keep them comfortable!

  14. john bournaris says:


    Can I use Eucomulch in the nest I have purchased a coup and placed a pillow to make it soft and comfortable (yes I know spoiling them) and put the Eucomulch on top of the pillow?

    • Hi John,

      Wow yes you are spoiling them! I suppose Ecomulch would work as it is okay in stables and barns but I would double check with the manufacturer that it is safe for chickens. You have intrigued me with the pillow though! That will be one messy smelly thing in not too long and I fear would become an insect breeding ground which really wouldn’t be great for the hens.

  15. Pig Boots says:

    Thank you for all of the wonderful input. I have a Double Yellow Head Amazon Parrot who thinks she is a rooster (of all things!). Am building her a nesting box, as she keeps seeking quiet dark spaces, she seems to like being somewhat confined with a low-ish roof over head, go figure 🙂
    She is my blind little adoptee, I love her and if she thinks she is a rooster, so be it… I have all sorts of room for a bird of a different stripe on this ranch!
    Thank you so much!

  16. kathy says:

    I want to get laying chickens to keep in our fenced in pasture with our sheep. I want to let them free range in the pasture, but want them to lay eggs in nesting boxes. do the nesting boxes need to be completely enclosed in some sort of 4 sided building? does the perch for free range chicken have to be in an enclosed area? Thanks!

    • Hi Kathy,

      You need somewhere dry (so with a roof at least) for the birds to roost and for the eggs. Crows might learn to steal your eggs if they aren’t inside and your hens will want to think their nesting is somewhere safe.

      When free range you might find the hens lay in hedges etc so it can be useful to keep them in their house during the morning (till most eggs are laid) and then let them roam free later in the day.

  17. Stephanie says:

    If a hen breaks its egg while sitting …will she eat it?

    • Quite possibly Stephanie.

      Not always but if they find one broken egg and get a taste for it they can start to break them of their own accord. Our present batch of hens have eaten the odd broken one but luckily have not taken to breaking them on purpose.

      Always best to clear the eggs away regularly after laying so there is less chance of it happening.

  18. Captain Awesome says:


  19. stan says:

    do you know of any nest box plans that the eggs once layed the chicken cant get to them. mind desided they like egggs and i’vetryed everything to break them of it

    • Stan – sorry I don’t know of any plans for doing this cheaply. I guess you need some kind of ramp exiting the box, but I know our wood-work skills wouldn’t be up to it!

  20. Miss Hetho says:

    Thank you so much for all the great ideas & tips! This is definitely the most helpful site that I have located! We are building our nesting boxes today using a shelving unit with a few modifications:) Wish us luck!

  21. Jemima-chook says:

    What a brilliant idea for nesting boxes, thank you so much! I’ve been trawling the net trying to find a small, reasonably priced one for my bantams, and now I can make a pain-free DIY one! 😀

  22. Jill says:

    Thanks for the great DIY tips! We are ready to make our hens cozy nesting boxes and appreciate not having to spend a fortune to create a happy home for them 🙂

  23. dan says:

    we have about 50 hens and 10 nest boxes. The birds fight over 2 or 3 of the boxes to lay their eggs, sometimes breaking or at least dirtying the eggs. how to get the hens to spread the eggs out using all boxes. suggestions?

  24. ayanda says:

    i’m getting chickens tomorrow but i havent built a nesting box yet, i have an old crate in my garden and i’m planning on using it as a nesting box. i would like to know wheter i should use straws or sawdust?

    • Ayanda – either will work. Our hens prefer sawdust in their nest boxes though I have no idea why (they tend to kick the straw out for some reason!).

  25. Valerie says:

    Thank you for all of your tips! We hope our chickens are happy Egg layers! Love the Plastic Bowls, easy, cheap, clean and work GREAT 🙂

  26. babycakes says:

    Hi all just been reading your messages very informative great website. I am just in the process of converting my dog shed into a chicken house as the dogs don’t seem to like it they prefer the warmth of my couch Ha Ha. The shed is 4ft by 4ft and 5ft high with a sloping roof the run to it is 7ft by 6ft. I was wondering how many chickens I could get. In the day the chickens would have the run of my garden. Many thanks Babycakes x

  27. Plant lady says:

    I used some 12 inches square cubes of wire vinyl coated storage bins about 4 feet off the floor. I have 6 bins for 10 chicks and two turks. I put some straw down inside of them. They like to sleep above them so I put a few bamboo poles above them with a trough below to catch the poop so the boxes do not get soiled. I have a fan running all day and night because it has been in the 90s here in Illinois. They love to sleep by the fan on the poles. They should begin to lay eggs in August so we will see if this works. The turks, although way bigger than the chicks, like to sleep in the nesting boxes but do not poop in them. It will be interesting to see what the chicks do when they start to lay.

  28. Very nice and simple solution for poultry nesting. I don’t think that would work for our pheasants (flight), but hey, great for chickens.