Did you know that you can make your own chicken nest boxes? There is no need to throw money at brand-new boxes if you are on a tight budget or if you just prefer to repurpose instead of buying new ones. Grab some buckets and I’ll show you how to make DIY bucket nest boxes!
DIY 5-Gallon Bucket Nest Boxes for Chickens
5-gallon buckets projects are endless around the homestead! If you didn’t already know, they make excellent nest boxes for chickens. They have enough space for the laying hens to move around while being enclosed enough to keep them feeling cozy and safe.
The design for your bucket stand will be based on what you have available and what your coop is like. I had an old wooden coffee table that I placed my bucket nest boxes on top of, but you can build a frame or a platform as well. The buckets will go on whatever stand you choose and the hens will be able to lay their eggs without issue.
This same idea can be applied to kitty litter buckets, old milk crates, waste baskets, and other repurposed materials.
What to Know Before Making Chicken Nest Boxes
When making DIY nest boxes, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep the boxes low to the ground. Hens like to nest low and roost high.
- Don’t put the nest boxes directly under the roost or they will be covered in poo.
- Make them removable for cleaning (the hens will poop in them at some point).
- A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 box per 5 hens, but they will all still fight over one box.
- Ensure that the height of the nest box is high enough for a chicken to sit comfortably. A 5-gallon bucket is just the right height.
- They do not have to be beautiful. My table foundation has chipped paint and missing slats and the buckets aren’t always shiny (only after wash day). However, they are functional and free!
Why are Chicken Nesting Boxes Important
Laying hens will lay eggs whether they have nesting boxes or not, but having nest boxes can be beneficial in a few different ways.
1. Safety & Security
Nest boxes are important for chickens so they have a safe space to lay their eggs. They like to lay eggs in a covered area because the covering makes them feel safe from aerial predators.
2. Skip the Easter Egg Hunt
Without nest boxes, you will most likely have to search for eggs each day especially if your birds are free-range. Having a specific place for them to lay will eliminate this egg hunt and make collecting eggs a much easier task.
When you first introduce your birds to their nest boxes, you may need to train them a bit by placing ceramic eggs or golf balls in the boxes so they know where to lay.
Well-kept nest boxes can also help to keep your eggs clean and intact.
How to Make DIY Chicken Nest Boxes with 5-Gallon Buckets
- Five-Gallon Buckets
- Some type of foundation (table, DIY platform, etc)
- Lip (cut down lid or board)
STEP ONE: Gather Buckets
You can use buckets that you have lying around, find free buckets from local businesses, or buy new ones. Just make sure that there were no hazardous materials stored in the buckets that you choose.
STEP TWO: Set the Foundation
The foundation can vary based on your needs, available materials, and coop space. You can build a simple frame or shelf or you can use something like a coffee table (this is what I did).
STEP THREE: Secure Buckets
Make sure that the buckets cannot roll around when the hens jump inside. The bucket nest boxes can be screwed into the frame or they can be positioned close enough together that they hold themselves in place. Just be sure that you can remove the buckets for easy cleaning as needed.
STEP FOUR: Add a Lip
You will want to add some type of lip to your DIY nest boxes to keep the hens from kicking the bedding and eggs out. I attached a board across the front, but you could also cut down a lid to make a lip that fits the bucket. To do this, take a bucket lid and cut ⅔ off. Attach the remaining ⅓ to the bottom of the bucket opening.
STEP FIVE: Add Bedding
Decide on the bedding type for your bucket nest boxes. I use straw because my hens tend to prefer straw for laying and it helps to keep the eggs nice and clean. You can also use wood shavings or nest box pads. Whatever you choose, make sure that they have fresh bedding each day to keep them from finding a new spot to lay and to avoid dirty eggs.