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Create a Better Nesting Box for your Chickens

Create a better nesting box for your chickens by providing a clean, quiet spot for them to lay their eggs and hatch chicks.

It's important to provide a nice clean, quiet, safe place for your chickens to lay their eggs. 

The nesting boxes should be a sanctuary where your hens feel secure and calm in order to encourage egg production and if you're trying to hatch chicks, a place where the mother hen feels they will be safe and protected. 

There are a couple of simple things you can easily and inexpensively do to create a better nesting box for your chickens.

Create a Better Nesting Box for your Chickens

Box Size

Nesting boxes should be about " square. 

That's large enough to fit one hen comfortably, but not large enough that two should try and squeeze in (which can lead to broken eggs), although I wouldn't put it past your chickens to try! 

You can purchase boxes commercially, build them out of wood, or even upcycle plastic pails or crates, half wine barrels, kitty litter tubs or other similarly-sized containers.

Rule of thumb dictates one box for every hens, but realistically they'll all want to use the same one - at the same time! I have six boxes and even with more than a dozen laying hens, they have only ever wanted to use two of the boxes.

Nest Bedding

Clean boxes mean clean eggs, and since it's best not to wash your fresh eggs until just before using them, and manure or mud on the eggs can cause bacteria to seep into the eggs through the pores in the eggshell, keeping the eggs clean is important. 

Preventing eggs from breaking is also important. Broken eggs can lead to "unauthorized" egg eating, which can be a hard habit to break. 

Over the years, I've experimented in my nesting boxes with pine shavings, straw, chopped straw, and even dried leaves. 

I found both shavings and chopped straw to be incredibly dusty and also to not hold their shape, frequently resulting in eggs on the wooden box bottom. 

Regular straw is better, but my chickens don't seem to love it in their boxes (however, they do seem to enjoy it on the coop floor). 

The clear winner, at least for me, in the nesting boxes is aspen nesting pads. I switched to them last fall and so far, they've been great.

They hold their shape so the chickens don't make deep craters in them, nor do my chickens pull the bedding out of the boxes. It's easy to flip them over or fluff them up to refresh them, so I've been using the same ones for several months.  

Nesting Box Herbs 

Especially when you have a broody hen sitting on eggs, you want to keep the nests bug-free, and of course don't want to use any harsh chemicals in the boxes, so doing what you can to discourage pests of any kind in the boxes (including mice and snakes!) is also important. 

Adding some aromatic herbs not only can help discourage bugs from making a home in the nests, but also smells nice (to us!) and looks pretty. 

You can grow and dry your own herbs (things like calendula, lavender, mint, rosemary, and thyme are great choices!) or buy dried herbs in bulk and mix your own.

Diatomaceous Earth

Sprinkling some food-grade diatomaceous earth in the bottom of the boxes before putting down your bedding is also a great way to help repel insects. Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic natural pulverized fossil that pierces the hard shells of insects causing them to dehydrate and die, but is perfectly safe for mammals, chickens, humans, earthworms, etc. 

Diatomaceous earth is what I use in my nesting boxes and also on the floor of my chicken coop to neutralize any ammonia smells as well as discourage bugs from moving taking up residence. 

Since it is a fine powder and can cause respiratory issues if it's inhaled in large amounts, I make sure the chickens are outside when I sprinkle it and then I replace the nesting material on top of it.

Coop Recuperate is a new product I love that combines aromatic eucalyptus and lemon grass essential oils with Diatomaceous earth for the best-smelled nests on the block! I sprinkle Coop Recuperate in the nesting boxes periodically as well as when I clean them out.

Fake Eggs

Putting some fake eggs in the nesting boxes can help to show new layers where they are supposed to lay their eggs. You can buy fake ceramic or wood eggs, or just use golf balls or even smooth, round rocks.

If you have older chickens, they'll teach your new layers where to lay their eggs, but the fake eggs can be a good substitute if you're on your first batch of hens.

Nesting Box Curtains

Lastly, adding some curtains to your boxes can help encourage your laying hens to use the boxes. 

Making the nesting boxes more private and secluded can entice nervous layers, and also help to prevent issues with egg eating since the curtains block the eggs from the view of others. 

The curtains don't have to be fancyyou can staple a feed bag up, or just nail some pretty linen tea towels up in front of the boxes. 

If you're a bit more ambitious, then by all means go ahead and install an inexpensive curtain rod and turn some fabric scraps into curtains as I've done!

When the curtains get dirty, I either take them down and launder them, or just throw them away and make new ones.

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Buying Sources:
Metal Nesting Boxes | Aspen Nesting Pads |
Coop Recuperate |  Ceramic Eggs | Buffalo Check Fabric

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The Secret to Keeping your Chicken Coop Nesting Boxes Clean

No more messy nesting boxes in your chicken coop - or dirty eggs -  with these few easy tips for keeping them clean.

Eggs from your backyard chickens stay fresher if they aren't washed before storing them, but no one wants dirt- or poop-covered eggs on their counter, or worse in the refrigerator. So how can you ensure that you always collect clean eggs?

Well, the easiest way is to keep the bedding in the nesting boxes refreshed and replaced as needed. Clean nesting boxes = clean eggs.

The Secret to Keeping your Chicken Coop Nesting Boxes Clean

Each morning I fluff the aspen nesting pads in the nesting boxes and check for poop. I remove any dirty  bedding I find. Which is rare. As a general rule, your nesting boxes should stay pretty clean.

No Sleeping in Nesting Boxes

Chickens generally will only poop in the nesting boxes if they are sleeping in them at night. Often young pullets who have just been introduced to the big girls coop will try to sleep in the boxes instead of on the roosts with the older hens.

To prevent this, take any little ones out of the boxes and place them onto the roosts after dusk. And be sure your roosts are positioned higher than your boxes to encourage your chickens to roost.

If this still doesn't prevent them sleeping in the boxes, then block the boxes just before dusk.

All the chickens will be done laying, so the boxes can remain blocked until you let the chickens out again the following morning. 

I have tried putting an upturned egg basket or a cardboard box in each nesting box, I've tried blocking the boxes by wedging a piece of cardboard across the front, but determined chickens have always managed to push their way in and wedge themselves into the box.

So after a bit of trial and error, I have found this 'hack' is the easiest, most inexpensive, and effective way to block nesting boxes from hens wanting to sleep (or be broody) in them.

Block those Boxes!

What you Need |

Scrap of chicken wire or welded wire fencing

Four nails with large flat heads


What you Do |

  • Nail a single nail to each of the four corners of your row of boxes. 
  •  Attach your piece of wire fencing to the four nails and then trim it to fit. 
  •  Bend any rough edges in to avoid injuries. 
  •  Remove the wire each morning and put it up again each day in the later afternoon just before the chickens turn in for the night. 
  •  Now you can easily put up and remove the wire as needed without any trouble.

Broody Blocker

You can also fashion a block for just one box if you have a broody hen hatching eggs in that box. Just cut a piece of wire to fit the single box and nail one nail into each corner.

The day the eggs are due to hatch, block the box so the chicks won't accidentally topple out before you can move them and mother hen to a safer, ground-level, spot.

This is also a great way to deter broodies you are trying to break. This box blocker will foil the efforts of a persistent broody hen.  

So here's how simple it is to create a block for your nesting boxes.

Voila! Nesting boxes are temporarily blocked and will keep out the most persistent chickens.

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Project Nest Box connects students with nature by supplying bird nest boxes made from 97% post-consumer recycled plastic, to K schools across North America. Students monitor the nests bi-weekly from April to July, and report data to Bird Studies Canada’s Project NestWatch. Students learn more about different bird species, while gathering important information. So far, over bird nest boxes have been donated.

A limited number of free bird nest boxes are distributed every spring.

Project Nest Box is now CLOSED for Spring   We will re-open again in September.

Due to high demand CleanRiver Nest Boxes are also available for purchase on and

Quantities are limited so ORDER NOW.

Project Nest Box Gallery


Program Partners

Project Nest Box was pioneered by David Tomlinson of the Aurora Environmental Advisory Committee’s Naturalization and Wildlife Working Group. CleanRiver is proud to partner with David and his group of dedicated volunteers, Bird Studies Canada, and the Royal Ontario Museum’sOntario Nest Records Scheme, to bring this very worthwhile and educational program to schools across North America.

Thank you to the following companies who have helped to make Project Nest Box &#; School Nest Watch Program a success:

Nesting Boxes for the Hoop Coops

Seven of the best bird nesting boxes

Birds are in decline across the country, but you can help to turn the tide with a bird nesting box.

Changes to climate, farming practices and urban landscapes have changed how birds nest. With fewer trees and wooden barns to build nests in, mating pairs of many birds are declining. With a bird nesting box you can offer them shelter and be thanked with beautiful birdsong.

Birds make fantastic wild companions and encouraging birds into your garden is a great way to introduce you and your family to British wildlife. They can even help in the garden, eating common garden pests like snails and aphids.

If you put food out for them to eat and a bird bath where they can drink and wash, you can attract these characterful creatures and provide a much-needed sanctuary.

We’ve curated a list of bird nesting boxes – from the understated to the unique – to help you choose the perfect one for your garden.

Looking for other ways to attract birds to your garden? Have a look at our lists of bird tables or bird feeders.

Types of bird boxes

Different birds have different needs, so if you’re looking to introduce birds to your garden this way it’s a good idea to have a range of nesting boxes.

Robin nesting box

Robins like small but open-faced bird boxes.

Swift nesting box

Swifts love high, long nesting boxes, with a small crevice opening to hide in.

Sparrow nesting box

Sparrows are largely unfussed by type, but prefer little, square nests with a small entry hole.

Blue tit nesting box

Blue tits love small, round nesting boxes that mimic holes in oak trees.

Seven of the best nesting boxes

See our pick of a range of nesting boxes, below:


National Trust CJ Wildlife Build Your Own Nest Box Kit

This build-your-own bird nesting box kit is a perfect DIY project. Customise this box however you like, as the birds won’t mind as long as they have a warm place to sleep. A fantastic starting point for teaching children the basics of DIY while learning about – and caring for – the natural world.

Price: £14

Buy National Trust CJ Wildlife Build Your Own Nest Box Kit at the National Trust


Johnston & Jeff Middleton Swift Box

Swifts are magical birds, spending almost their entire lives in the air and they summer throughout northern Europe and winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. A swift nesting box offers this remarkable species one of the few places they’ll ever land.

Price: £

Buy the Johnston & Jeff Middleton Swift Box at Robert Dyas


CJ Wildlife House Martin Nest Box

House martins are fascinating birds, breeding and raising their young in the UK but wintering somewhere unknown in Africa – some have even been spotted as far south as Namibia. This bird nesting box perfectly mimics their mud nests, and is designed to be fitted under eaves, beams, and windowsills, just like real house martin nests. What’s more, this bird nesting box comes with two nests, so you can watch two broods of this intriguing species mature for the long flight southwards.

Price: £

Buy CJ Wildlife House Martin Nest Box from CJ Wildlife

Buy CJ Wildlife House Martin Nest Box on Amazon


Wildlife World Artisan Nester Shesali

This unique bird nesting box not only provides for birds, but for humans too.  Made from recycled saris it has no plastic and is Fairtrade, ensuring high working standards and fair pay for the Bangladeshi workers who make them. A great product for ethical consumers.

Price £

Buy Wildlife World Artisan Nester Shesali on Amazon


Wildlife World Blue Tit Nest Box

One of the most common birds in Britain, blue tits are also the most likely to take to a bird nesting box. They’re an especially helpful companion for gardeners, because they love to eat aphids. For the joy of birdsong and some free pest control, look no further than this FSC-certified birch bird nesting box.

Price: £

Buy Wildlife World Blue Tit Nest Box on Amazon


Riverside Woodcraft Sparrow Terrace

Sparrows are one of the most common birds in Europe and one of the most social. Few birds are as unbothered by human beings as sparrows, which is why they’re commonly found in towns. Though populous in Europe, the numbers of house sparrows has collapsed in the UK in recent years. This bird nesting box offers space for three different nests at once, so you can help to revitalise this mainstay of British wildlife.

Price: £

Buy Plant Theatre Sparrow Loft on Amazon


Wildlife World Woodpecker Box

Woodpeckers are one of nature’s more striking birds, hammering into tree bark with their beaks to pick out ants, grubs and larvae with long, thin tongues. This industrious tapping is one of the most distinctive sounds of  British wildlife. This FSC-certified bird nesting box is specifically designed for woodpeckers to roost – just put it in a tall tree facing away from the prevailing wind.

Price: £

Buy Wildlife World Woodpecker Box from Wildlife World

For more advice on how to put up bird nesting boxes, take a look at Monty Don’s guide below:

This Product Guide was last updated in March and we apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.


Boxes amazon nesting


Russian nesting boxes from Amazon


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