Chickens prefer coop cubbies or nest boxes so they have private places to lay their eggs. You can buy nest boxes, but they can be expensive. Instead, build your own nest boxes from cheap or even free materials.
Milk Crate Nest
Plastic milk crates like those used in dairies or sold in office supply stores for organization work well as nest boxes. Place them in the chicken coop or run so they have the back on the floor or ground and the sides, giving a feeling of enclosure. Fill them with straw to cushion the eggs.
Bucket Nest Boxes
Buckets laid on their sides can make great nest boxes, if they give your hens enough room to lay in comfortably. Small buckets work well with bantams; a large-size fowl needs a 5-gallon bucket to lay eggs. Fit a board across the bottom half of the bucket's opening to keep the hay in. If the bucket has a lid, such as the kind you might get from bakery, cut an opening in the lid big enough for the hen to get in and out but wide enough to keep the straw in. Build a stand with boards to keep the bucket from rolling, since it will be sit on its side in the coop.
Crates, Shelves and Other Possibilities
Wooden crates such apple crates are often too big for adequate nesting but will work well if divided into cubbies that are about a foot squared. Wash basins, old shelves, and even old dresser drawers can make great nesting areas for hens looking for places to lay their eggs. Covered cat litter boxes and cat carriers with the doors removed make great nests for your hens. All you need to do is add straw or other cushioning material and you're set.
Plan on one nest box per four hens. To encourage your hens to use the nest box, add a couple of golf balls or fake eggs. You can use straw, hay, wood shavings, pesticide-free grass clippings or shredded paper for cushioning. Nest boxes made of easily cleaned and sanitized material, such as plastic and metal, are best, but wood nest boxes can be inexpensive alternatives.
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