Nice Chicken Nests for (Nearly) Nothing

With a few small modifications, cardboard boxes work just fine as chicken nests.

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    Chickens are perfectly content to use cardboard boxes as chicken nests.

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It was the same old story. USDA pamphlets recommended one nest for every five layin' hens. I had a dozen of the "girls," and the only commercially available chicken nests were huge metal banks of ten compartments apiece. I wouldn't have needed that many even if I could have afforded them.

So I decided to do-it-myself. After all, I figured a chicken nest couldn't be too awfully difficult to put together. My survey of the readily available materials soon convinced me that cardboard boxes—free from my friendly neighborhood supermarket—would be "just what the doctor ordered."

Of course, I tried a number of experiments before I got my nest designs "just right." In fact, one of the lessons I learned during this trial-and-error period is that chickens don't necessarily agree upon one standard size and shape of container to lay their eggs in. Each breed has its own preferences.

The closest thing I've found to a "universally acceptable" box size happens to be the one that supermarkets generally receive their egg deliveries in. In the case of these "nests," at least, I know the answer to the old riddle about "which came first."

Regardless of what size crates you choose (that is, which ones your chickens pick for you), the cardboard nests are a snap to construct.

First, cut a nine-inch circular doorway about two inches from the end of one of the "long sides" of the box. I find that a round hole is less likely to tear out than a square opening would be.

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