One chicken laying nest box for every three to four hens is recommended by some and one to every four to five by others, so 1 to 4 is a good ratio to keep in mind.
Wood-free Fowl Stuff nest boxes can be an important part of your poultry biosecurity program. Flock owners understand the importance of keeping their birds healthy and 100% recyclable plastic Fowl Stuff nest boxes can help reduce the chances of your birds being exposed to parasites and animal diseases. Wood, metal and other plastic nest box units don’t offer the enclosure benefits, of Fowl Stuff nest boxes, to keep rodents out. Cleaning and sanitizing Fowl Stuff nest boxes is quick and easy which helps to keep lice, mites, fleas, other parasites and bacteria under control.
Not all 100% plastic laying nest boxes are equal. Some are designed with “stack-ability” of the plastic parts being more important than the benefits of using plastic. They are molded so they can be stacked as tightly together as possible to achieve the most economical shipping rates. By doing so, the advantages of a 100% plastic laying nest box are lost. There is no back to those units, much like the old fashioned conventional galvanized laying nest boxes. The wall of the chicken coop becomes the back wall of the nest box! The nest box may be 100% plastic as it came out of the shipping box, but once mounted you have a nest box that is part plastic and part wood or whatever your wall is made of. Cracks and crevices in wood are the places lice and red mites like to call “Home”. Even plastic units that boast of large vent holes in the back may get mounted flat on a wall and loose the benefits of a plastic enclosure. Plastic nest boxes that come with “vent” holes already molded into them may actually be made that way to reduce the amount of plastic needed to produce the parts and cost savings.
In some climates vent holes for added air circulation may be beneficial. Using a drill with about a 3/8” diameter bit any number of small vent holes can be added as needed and should be located on the sides of the box, near the back. There is also an alternate installation plan for quick removal of the nest box and it allows for vent holes in the back of the unit. Please refer to the YouTube video below for details about this special installation. 3/8” diameter holes may not stop most insects from entering the nest box, but should keep rodents and other small animals out while allowing for maximum air circulation. Large vent holes, especially in the back of nest boxes, can offer easy access to mice, snakes and other varmints. If large vent holes are used they should be covered with hardware cloth to keep the varmints out.
Fowl Stuff laying nest boxes were designed with both chickens and people in mind. Our nest boxes are made of polypropylene plastic, not that it is any cheaper than wood, metal or other materials, but because it is better. Many of the benefits are stated on the Home page. Our high quality pails are heavy 90mil plastic, while economy pails are only 70 – 75mil. We didn’t skimp on the amount of plastic used in making the other parts either. Where thicker sections of material were needed they received it and where ribbing was needed it was provided. All of this was intentional and it all added to the strength and durability of the individual parts. The designs of the way the cover snaps onto the box and the way the perch snaps into the cover are unique, but they came about from many years of design experience with the mating of plastic parts.
Fowl Stuff nest boxes were designed for average laying hen. If your chickens can fit into a 5 gallon pail and turn around then our nest boxes are big enough for your birds and that includes most breeds of large fowl chickens. Some people look at a photo of a nest box and say it “looks too small” without knowing the actual size and forgetting that animals not only go thru holes and into areas that look too small for them all the time and they sometimes prefer cozy quarters. A Fowl Stuff Cover & Perch attached to a 3 ½ gallon pail makes a great nest box for bantam chickens and pigeons. The 6” opening, in the cover, is large enough for most standard chickens, including all bantams and most large fowl hens up to about 6 ½ pounds. For heavy breeds the cover hole may be increased to 8”, if needed. Ribbing on the inside of the cover reveals the outline of the area that is specially designed to be cut out for this purpose.
Please install the nest boxes before your pullets start to lay so they will be familiar with them and will have had plenty of opportunities to check them out before trying to figure out where to lay that first egg when the time comes. Once they are accustomed to laying eggs on the floor or some other place in the coop it is very difficult to change their habits. Using artificial nest eggs and some of the other ideas mentioned on the page can help encourage your hens to lay their eggs in the nest boxes.
If you want to give your hens some options, try mounting Fowl Stuff nest boxes at different heights and locations in your chicken coops or chicken tractors. They should be mounted lower than any roosts that the birds use (roost on) at night. I recommend having the nest box perches at least 18 inches from the floor and no higher than about 32 inches for large fowl chickens. The nest boxes (cover, perch & pail) are made with UV protectant to protect the plastic from sunlight, but still hens generally prefer nest boxes located in a dark corner rather than in areas where the sun shines on them thru a window or there are bright lights. Be inventive. Put one here and another there, put them in a nice neat row if you wish, mount them in the shape of a pyramid or whatever. Remember, since Fowl Stuff nest boxes are individual units they don’t have to all be on the same wall in a row like conventional units with multiple holes. We could have molded Fowl Stuff nest boxes with a dovetail design so they connect together side-by-side but there is no reason for it. Besides, it is best to not mount any individual units so close together that birds can fly on top and get their legs caught between the boxes.
Fowl Stuff nest boxes can be easily cleaned and sanitized. Wood shavings may be vacuumed out with a shop vac or the cover can be unsnapped to allow the shavings to be removed and then snapped back on. The nest boxes can be quickly wiped down and the perches are easily removed for thorough cleaning in a pail with soap and water. If the units are removed from the walls they may also be power washed at home or taken to the car wash. There is also an optional installation plan that allows for “quick removal” of the nest boxes.
Given the option hens may just use the nest boxes they grew up with and are used to. The idea is not to give the hens several options of nest boxes to choose from. The design of our Fowl Stuff nest boxes make them better for chickens than other nest boxes, like wood, metal and other plastic ones. The idea is to replace all existing nest boxes with Fowl Stuff 100% plastic nest boxes. The old galvanized nest boxes make great lawn ornaments or planters, while wood and cardboard nest boxes should be disposed of.
Use Astroturf or a generous amount of wood shavings (not sawdust) in the nest boxes to reduce the possibility of egg breakage and to make the hens comfortable. Cedar shavings may be toxic to chickens, but pine and other woods are generally OK. If straw is used it should be soft and short stemmed. Pine needles, leaves, shredded paper and other materials may be used, but make sure they are dry, soft, and not harmful to hens and eggs. Hay is feed, not bedding and doesn’t belong in nest boxes. Sprinkle in Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to help control mites, lice, fleas and other parasites in the nesting material year round. The result is happier, healthier and more productive hens. The opening in the Fowl Stuff nest box cover is over 4 inches from the bottom of the box to allow for a lot of nesting material. Most other nest boxes have much less area to contain the shavings or other nesting material and much more of it gets scratched out by the hens. This is one reason they often show straw or even hay in photos of those nest boxes. Some of the other nest boxes offer a rollout egg feature for a bit more money and for even more money you can buy a lid to cover the collection tray. They make it all sound beneficial and the egg rollout idea is great for commercial laying operations, but it doesn’t work all that well with most nest boxes used for backyard flocks. The rollout plastic nest bottom isn’t a natural environment for a hen to lay eggs. It’s just not natural for hens to lay eggs on a piece of plastic any more than it is for them to lay on wire. Hens like wild birds prefer dry soft materials to line their nests.
Fowl Stuff nest box covers were designed to fit Fowl Stuff nest boxes. Our “boxes” are pails (aka buckets) manufactured by Encore Plastics, in Ohio, and our covers fit their standard 3 ½ and 5 gallon pails. They also fit some pails manufactured by Century Container, Leaktite and others. Of course we recommend complete Fowl Stuff nest box units. Then you know the parts will fit properly and you will get heavy duty 90mil pails. If you supply your own pails please take a nest box cover to the store with you to check the fit on the pails before buying them. Below are photos of Fowl Stuff Covers & Perches on Encore 3 ½ gallon pails. These make a great size nest box for those that only have bantam chickens.
Fowl Stuff nest boxes are very economical. Prices vary by retailer and links to the retailers are listed on the Buy Now page. Two complete FSNB11 nest boxes are generally $50 or less, so you can buy two for the price of one of the competitor’s boxes (plus mine are better). If you buy in quantities of 6 the price is generally even lower. The FSTB11 nest boxes designed for chicken tractors, so eggs can be collected from outside, are higher priced due to the additional parts and labor. You can purchase just the Cover & Perch to use with your own pail to save even more and they also come individually bagged for retail stores. Some retailers offer special prices when you buy Covers & Perches in quantities of six or more. When you figure your material and labor you can’t build a nest box yourself with these features, as cheaply as you can buy Fowl Stuff complete nest boxes and Fowl Stuff Covers & Perches.
I know that to some folks it doesn’t really matter where the products they purchase are made. With some items, especially electronics, you don’t always have a choice. With most poultry supplies you do have a choice and I prefer buying items made in the U.S. or Canada. Being from Michigan, with Ontario closer than most states it never mattered to me which side of the great lakes products were made. Fowl Stuff nest boxes are made in the states. The boxes (pails) are made in Ohio and the Covers & Perches are made here in mid-Michigan to be precise. The plastic injection mold was made in Michigan too. The incidental parts that we buy, but don’t manufacture, like screws, washers, zip ties, plastic plugs, etc. may be made in other countries.
Hens are attracted to bright light colors, but prefer dark secluded areas to lay their eggs. Our Covers & Perches are bright yellow to get a hen’s attention. Studies prove that when given a choice, chickens are attracted to yellow over red, blue and green. White was not an option in these studies.
Our 5 gallon size pails (nest area) are black to offer the desired darkness and feeling of seclusion inside the nest box. This provides a low stress environment for hens to lay their eggs.
Our Covers, Perches and pails are also still available in classic white for those that prefer that option. Keep in mind that poultry dust and chicken droppings will always be a problem in any chicken coop and will show on any color.
Yes. Use the Order Form on the Buy Now page to place an international order. We use UPS Ground Service for shipments within the continental US and USPS Priority Mail International for most other shipments. Also note that Berry Hill in Ontario carries Fowl Stuff nest box products.
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