How to Get Your Chickens to Lay Eggs in Nesting Boxes

One of the most exciting times we’ve had in our backyard chicken experience is the day we received our very first egg. If you’ve gone through this, you know how thrilling that first egg is! When our girls first started laying it was very early spring. They were technically still “cooped up” then. But to our surprise, Coco plopped her first egg right there on the floor that day, and I didn’t even care because I was so excited!!

After our first egg, I remember researching what kind of nesting boxes I wanted. We decided on a really nice metal roll out box. It just made so much sense to me at the time! After our box arrived, we were ready for ALL the eggs. If only it was that easy, right?

In our coop, our chickens don’t free range, but they have a very large outdoor run. For the most part, they kept to laying inside the coop. However, they hardly ever laid their eggs in the fancy metal roll out box we bought! To be completely honest, I wish I would’ve spent less and went simple.

I’ve even had friends who’ve struggled to get their girls to lay in nesting boxes. They’ve had to go on “egg hunts” almost every day. No thank you! So, here are a couple tips I’ve shared with my friends as well as some things I’ve learned along the way to encourage your sweet girls to lay where they’re supposed to!

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q: How many nest boxes do I need?

A: The most common answer is 1 box for every 5-6 hens. However, I’ve found that my girls all love to lay in the same box and just take turns. With that being said, I still have plenty of boxes for them to lay in just to be safe.

Q: What is the best material for nesting boxes?

A: The answer is, it’s completely up to you! I have my fancy metal roll out boxes that no one uses along with some plastic buckets and small totes. All of these are very easy to clean, but my girls favor the plastic totes.

Q: How do I get them to lay in the actual box?

A: When our girls were getting ready to lay, I put fake eggs in the nesting box. Some people use golf balls, but I found fake eggs at our local farm supply store.

A: When I started finding a couple of eggs out in the outdoor run, I waited a little longer before I opened the coop doors. That seemed to get them on a better laying schedule.

Q: How often do I clean the nest boxes?

A: Often! I clean ours out weekly. If you haven’t already found this out, I’ll tell you a little secret. Chickens poop a lot and they go wherever they want! So, you’ll want to clean your boxes often.

Q: What if my chickens keep laying in a spot that I don’t want them to?

A: Make this area less inviting. I had some girls that kept laying under their water bucket, so I put a brick under there and they quit doing it. The trick is to make these areas less appealing or block them off if possible.

Q: Where should I put the nesting boxes?

A: Ideally, you’ll want to have them a couple inches off the ground. If you’re able to keep them in a dark, private area, that will appeal to them. Most chickens like privacy when laying their eggs.

All in all, getting your chickens to lay where they’re supposed to can take some time. Chickens are creatures of habit, so breaking bad habits can take a while. Stay patient and consistent and soon enough you won’t have to go “egg hunting” everyday!

Interested in learning more? Don’t forget to check these past posts too!

Managing Frostbite in Your Flock

Managing Mites & Lice with Coop Recuperate™

Managing Egg Production During Shorter Days

Deep Litter Method for Chicken Coops

Published by Annie

Annie Wing is the author of Strong Animals Chicken 101 blog. She is a busy mom with 3 active kids. Annie and her family reside on an acreage in the Redwood River Valley in Minnesota. She enjoys gardening and her absolute favorite pastime is doting on her 28 chickens!