One of the most critical pieces of a new chicken coop is how and where to build the chicken laying boxes. This is important because if you don’t give attention to a few, but basic rules, you have a healthy chicken coop, but lacking egg production.
What to do and what to avoid.
Nests should be placed in a darker corner of the coop. Hens like their privacy and prefer less light while they sit on the nest. With too much light and not enough privacy they can get nervous, even sometimes dropping their laying to about 3 a week.
While many books will tell you that they will lay in smaller boxes, if you give your hens some space and make the cages between 12″x12″ or even 14″x14″, it has been my experience that you will increase egg production.
Straw is decent bedding for laying nests. Wood shavings are better. Straw becomes dirty very quickly and gets and stays more wet compared to dry wood shavings. A pair of gloves and a sturdy wheelbarrow is all you need to cart it all to the compost pile once a month or so.
Building a roosting spot in front of the laying next will keep your boxes cleaner as well. When planning a chicken coop, be sure to allow yourself the room you need to get in and out easily around them.
The laying box shouldn’t placed directly on the floor, but not so high that your hens have a hard time getting up to them. At least a foot off the ground, not higher than three to four feet.
Remember, hens don’t all get together and say “Hey! It’s time, lets all go lay an egg!” They take time away from the group to lay and you will find some prefer morning to afternoon and visa versa. If they are going to lay that day, they should be done an hour or so before roosting time in the evening. There are always exceptions, but that is a pretty fast rule. One laying box to 3 hens is quite plenty.
Collecting eggs every day it will help keep down on breakage. But if you have a broody hen and want her to set, place collected eggs under her and it will make her job easier come hatching time.
For more information on how to build a chicken coop