What Materials to Put in Chicken Nesting Boxes?

Having cozy nesting boxes for your chickens is essential if you want your layers to have a comfortable and safe laying place. Nesting boxes can also significantly lower the possibility of egg breakages.

You can add tons of materials to make the nesting boxes cozier and inviting for your layers.

Some ideal nesting box materials to add to your chicken nesting boxes include wood shavings, nesting pads, leaves, and hay.

The Importance of Chicken Nesting Boxes

Nesting boxes are a crucial part of any cage housing egg-laying chickens. They play a vital role in a hen’s egg-laying behavior. While hens can lay everywhere, particularly if you have free-range hens, hens’ natural inclination is to get a comfortable and cozy laying spot.

– Cozy Environment for Egg Laying

That’s why wild hens instinctively make nests to create a private egg-laying sanctuary. By providing nesting boxes to your hens, you will give the chooks a natural egg-laying environment to make them happier and stress-free, encouraging them to lay constantly.

Stress can impact a hen’s egg-laying behavior, so providing nesting boxes to your hens will give them the perfect, stress-free laying environment.

– Makes Egg Collection Easy

Collecting eggs is ultimately the biggest reward of raising hens. Nonetheless, chickens will lay everywhere when they can’t find the perfect laying place, so you will take plenty of time collecting eggs around if your hens don’t have access to nesting boxes.

Nesting boxes can make collecting eggs easier since you will only need to check the boxes and collect the eggs. Nesting boxes also help keep the eggs clean since your hens won’t lay in dirty places when there are cozy and clean nesting boxes around.

– Numbers and Size are Important

Although nesting boxes are a critical part of the egg-laying process, chicken raisers have many factors to consider when choosing the right nesting boxes for their chickens.

For instance, you should consider the number of layers in the flock while setting up nesting boxes for the chooks. The recommended number of nesting boxes per chicken should be two for three hens.

If you have 3 to 5 hens, for instance, you will require around two nesting boxes. Three nesting boxes are sufficient for a flock of 6 to 8 layers, while another flock of 9 to 11 layers will need about four nesting boxes.

Chicken raisers must consider nesting boxes’ size, shape, and height. A nesting box must be taller and big enough for a layer to fit in and sit comfortably. However, the box shouldn’t be too big to accommodate two hens.

It would help if you didn’t have extra-large boxes because you may have many broken eggs when two hens lay in one nesting box. The ideal dimensions of a nesting box depend on a hen’s size.

Giant breeds like Marans and Orpingtons need a box measuring 14 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 14 inches deep. Medium-sized to small-sized breeds like Legbars and Leghorns need nesting boxes measuring 12 inches wide, 12 inches tall, and 12 inches deep.

Bantam breeds like Sebrights, Dutch bantams, and Japanese bantams require nesting boxes measuring 10 inches wide, 10 inches high, and 10 inches deep. An excellent nesting box should have a square shape and enough space to accommodate the hen and the eggs.

Essential Elements of a Good Chicken Nesting Box

It’s undeniable that nesting boxes are crucial for any chicken owners with egg-laying hens in their flock.

However, not every nesting box is ideal for your chickens, so it would be wise to comprehend all the vital elements of a suitable nesting box while selecting nesting boxes for your flock.

These are the essential elements of a good chicken nesting box.

– Comfortable and soft material for the floor and walls

Your hens won’t be eager to use the nesting boxes in the coop if they don’t feel comfortable laying in there. Consequently, an excellent nesting box for your chickens should have a comfortable and soft material for the walls and floor.

The material should not only make the chickens feel comfortable, but it should also prevent the eggs from breaking. When laying, your hens will spend at least 30 minutes in the nesting boxes, so they would appreciate feeling comfortable throughout the laying process.

Some cozy and soft materials for the walls and floor of the nesting boxes that can bring much-needed comfort to your chooks include hemp, straw, and nesting pads.

– Adequate ventilation and lighting

A good chicken nesting box should have adequate ventilation to keep moisture and ammonia at bay. Your hens will spend at least half an hour in the nesting boxes, so moisture and high ammonia levels in the boxes can harm your layers.

To facilitate good ventilation, ensure the nesting boxes are in adequately ventilated areas other than places with poor airflow.

The nesting boxes should also have adequate lighting since your hens need to see the interior of the boxes before entering and laying eggs. A dark nest box can scare your hens, prompting them to lay everywhere.

– Privacy and seclusion for the chickens

An excellent nesting box should provide your hen with absolute privacy when laying.

The box should sit in a secluded place away from other chickens, which could disturb the layers during the laying process.

Consequently, install the boxes in a separate area where other chickens are less eager to frequent while the hens are laying.

– Protection from predators and external elements

The ideal nesting box should instill a sense of security into your layers to encourage good egg-laying behaviors. Nest boxes must be secure from predators that attack hens during the laying process.

For instance, installing nesting boxes near large holes will prompt the predators to sneak into the boxes and attack the layers.

A good nest box should protect the layers from external elements, such as strong winds, rainstorms, and snow.

chicken nesting box

Recommended Nesting Box Materials

An empty nesting box won’t be comfortable enough for chickens because it won’t provide maximum comfort.

Consequently, choosing suitable nesting box materials is vital when setting up cozy boxes for the chooks.

These are among the recommended nest box materials to put in your chicken nesting boxes.

– Wood Shavings

Wood shavings are inexpensive and comfortable options for making nesting boxes comfortable for your hens. They are also readily available, unlike most nesting materials. Wood shavings are incredibly excellent for nesting boxes because they provide comfort and warmth to hens when they are laying. However, pine shavings aren’t suitable for hens because of their toxic qualities.

– Straw or hay

Straw and hay are suitable nesting box materials because they are comfortable and warm. These two materials are also soft, translating into fewer broken eggs in the long run.

Hay and straw have excellent absorption capabilities, and they absorb moisture from fresh eggs without sticking to the fresh-laid eggs, ultimately keeping the eggs and nesting boxes clean and fresh.

Furthermore, you can use the soiled hay or straw bedding in your garden as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

– Grass clippings or leaves

Grass clippings or leaves are the most readily available nest box materials.

While they don’t hold moisture well like straw and hay, they are pretty comfortable, so they can keep your layers warm and help prevent unexpected egg breakages during the laying process.

– Nesting pads or mats

You can use mats or nesting pads for your nesting boxes. While these two materials are expensive, they are thick enough to add comfort and warmth to the nesting boxes.

They also hold moisture well and don’t require constant changing, unlike other nesting box materials.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Chicken Nesting Boxes

Maintenance and cleaning of chicken nesting boxes are vital to raising dependable layers. Nesting boxes require frequent cleaning and maintenance.

For instance, you should use a natural cleaning agent such as vinegar to disinfect your nesting boxes. Clean the boxes weekly to give the hens a clean laying environment.

Furthermore, change the soiled nesting material since it can make your hens uncomfortable while laying.

Dirty nesting materials need replacement because they can attract lice and mites into the nesting boxes.


Nesting boxes are vital for hens because they give the layers a comfy, warm, and safe laying spot. Nesting boxes can also help chicken owners prevent unexpected egg breakages and also keep the eggs clean.

Thus, have ample boxes for your hens and use the best nest box materials to keep your layers comfortable and warm.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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