Chickens nesting boxes are built primarily inside the chicken coop. Their purpose is to give your hens a place to lay their eggs. If you do not provide your hens with chickens nesting boxes, then they will lay their eggs all over their pen.
The hen nesting boxes are best built in a design like you were building a set of shelves. Make the individual chicken egg laying boxes on the shelves wide enough for the bird to comfortably sit in, and tall enough that she can get in it, but short enough that she cannot stand totally up. A bird like this must be standing completely erect in order to evacuate their bowels. In other words they can’t poop sitting down, and because of this you will get cleaner eggs. When you build nesting boxes for chickens and you leave them room to stand, your nest boxes for chickens will quickly fill up with chicken poop.
Once you have your boxes for nesting chickens built, line them with a layer of hay, straw, or a material such as this, so they do not break their eggs as easily. These birds are not known for being gentle with their newly produced hen fruit, and they will roll them around and break them. Sometimes you will look inside your nesting boxes for chickens and you will find the evidence of an egg having been there, but it is gone. This is not always a varmint that got the egg. Sometimes hens will bust the eggs open and eat them. They eat shell and all. The old timers will tell you that when your bird is doing this they are in need of more calcium in their diet.
When a chicken is nesting to hatch eggs and you do not want her to, you will have to be diligent about getting her off the nest every-day. You will have to move her every day for as many as 21 days before she gives up. They are very determined to be mothers at times.
You should always include something like a wooden egg in your hen’s boxes to trick snakes with. Snakes can smell those eggs and they will crawl into the box to eat the eggs. If you put a wooden egg in each of your boxes, the greedy snake will eat the wooden one as well. In order to digest these items they use their stomach muscles and crush the shells, but they cannot crush the wooden one, and they cannot regurgitate it, and they cannot poop it out. So the snake dies, and will not be back to rob your birds again.
You can also use a golf ball in place of a wooden egg to trap a snake. Snakes cannot tell the golf ball from the eggs they came to eat, and the golf ball does the same thing on their insides. Some people used to boil their eggs and insert large fish hooks inside them to catch the snakes. They would tie the fishing hooks to a piece of heavy duty string, and attach the string to the box. When the snake swallowed the hook he would hang there until the person came out and killed him. This method terrifies your hens because there is a big snake in their house flopping, and swinging, and it leaves you with a ticked off snake to deal with. Golf balls and wooden eggs work much better.
If you are finding a lot of eggs that break when you lift them out of the hens nest, then you can do one of two things to harden the shells. You can buy your birds some oyster shell and sprinkle it in their yard. They will eat the oyster shell and develop harder shells. You can also boil your egg-shells and feed them to the birds. This will work just like oyster shell, but you must either boil them, or place them on a baking sheet and bake them. If you give them to the birds uncooked, you will encourage them to break fresh ones in the nest and eat them.
If you do decide to let one or more of your hens sit on a clutch and hatch them, it will take 21 days for the little chicks to emerge. You may not see them the first 2 to 3 days because they will stay hidden under their momma’s wings. When momma does take the babies out away from the nest, quickly clean away any debris left from the hatching, and place fresh straw in here. The smell of the little ones will attract snakes to your pen.
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