Happy chickens lay eggs this is a fact. To ensure your hens turn into great layers it’s essential that they have a nice comfortable and clean area in which to nest so that they can lay their eggs in peace.
If the only area that chickens have to lay their eggs is dirty, dusty and unclean this will certainly put them off.
With this in mind in this DIY guide we are going to show you how to build a nest box attachment that can be added to any chicken coop.
This DIY Project is a side project to our guide on how to build a chicken coop that can be seen here.
Tools and Materials Needed to Construct a Nest Box Attachment
Here follwos a list of tools and materials you will need to build your nesting box:
- 3x sturdy, medium sized pallets
- Crow bar or pallet wrecking bar (for dismantling pallets)
- Box of 1 1/4 inch wood screws
- Box of 1 1/2 inch wood screws
- Mitre saw or hand saw
- Tape measure
- Roll of roofing felt
- 10mm felt nails
- Small T-hinges
- Gate latch
- 250mm x 1100mm piece of roofing rubber or similar
- Timber treatment and paint brush
- 6m of 2×4 roofing batten or similar
- 300x500mm cut off of 18mm plywood or similar
How to Build a Nest Box Attachment for a Chicken Coop
To build your nest box attachment you can use pretty much any type of timber as long as it’s sturdy and able to resist moisture and the elements that it will be exposed to.
For this project we are going to use some old pallets as they will provide the exact type and size of timber that we need to fit with our existing chicken coop that was constructed also using old pallets and of course they were also free.
Before you can start construction you’ll have to break down pallets. See our project here on how to break down a pallet here.
For this project we used three sturdy half pallets this will give us more than enough timber to construct our nest box with some spares left over as well.
Construct the Nest Box Base
The first job to do is construct a base. Take 4 pallets slats of the same size and lay them out on a workbench or the floor.
Square up all of the pallets slats so that all of the edges are square and level with each other.
Using a tape measure, measure the thickness of one of the pallet slats. In this case the slats we are using are 18 mm in thickness.
Again, using your tape measure, measure and mark in 18 mm each side of your pallet slats top and bottom and draw a line between them. This will define where we screw our batten to so that when we add the pallet slats on the sides they come out flush with the edge of the base.
Next, measure the height of the four slats together, in this case it’s 360mm. Take away 18 mm from this and you are left with 342 to mm.
Cut two pieces of batten to 342 mm in length. These will define the sides of our framework.
Next, flip the entire base over and then Square it up again. Lift the edges slightly on one side and slide a piece of batten underneath the slats and level it to the front edge and also align it with the marks you made on the sides of the base.
Using a 3 mm drill bit, drill a pilot hole (find out how to drill a pilot hole in our projects here) in each of the slats and then screw in 1 1/4 inch wood screws to screw the bass to the batten.
Repeat this process for the other side using a large clamp if you need to force the slats together and close up any gaps and then flip the base back over.
Next, measure the width of the gap between the two pieces of batten on the sides and cut another piece of batten to this length making it about a millimeter wider so that it fits snug.
Once in place, flip the base back over and drill a pilot hole at either end and two across the centre and screw this piece of batten into place.
Construct Remaining Nest Box Framework
With our base constructed and batten screwed into place the next task is to construct the remaining framework to form the nest box shape and allow us to screw the remaining pallet slats to the outside leaving us with a sturdy and weatherproof box that will keep our chickens warm and dry.
How high you choose to make your nest boxes is entirely up to you but in this case we’re going to make ours 500mm high front and 400mm high at the back.
This will allow a decent slope on the roof and ensure that any water or moisture that builds up on it can easily run off.
Firstly, measure the depth of the timber you’re using in this case our batten is 50 mm deep.
Starting with the front timbers first deduct 50mm from our total height of 500mm giving us 450mm. Cut two pieces of batten to this length.
Cut 2 more timbers for the rear framework and again deduct 50mm from the total height of 400mm to give us 350mm. Cut batten to this length.
As our roof is going to slope we to need to mitre the tops of each side of the framework to allow the roof to sit flush on top of the framework.
Layout one of the front and rear uprights along a straight edge and space them to the total depth of our nest box, in this case 360mm. Very importantly, make sure they are totally square horizontally and vertically.
Using a spirit level, lay the level between the front and back timbers at the top, ensuring the level is aligned with the top front edges of each timber.
Once aligned, use a pencil to draw a line cross each of the battens. This will define the angle at which we need to cut our mitre to and create the slope for the roof.
Once marked cut the mitre using a hand saw or mitre saw. Repeat this for the other side.
Using a 3 mm wood bit for HSS bit, drill pilot holes in either side of each of the buttons so that they can be shoe screwed down into the existing base battens.
Using 1 1/4 inch wood screws screw each of the upright buttons into place, using the longer lengths for the front and the shorter battens at the rear.
Now, measure the width between the front and rear battens at the base. As the tops or not yet supported fully they will naturally splay out slightly giving us an inaccurate measurement hence why we’re measuring at the base.
Cut two pieces of batten to this length, drill a pilot hole at the top of each side of the battens and use 1 1/2 inch wood screws to screw the top battens into place to form the top edges of our nest box framework.
The final remaining job for our framework is two now cut battens for the top side edges, these will also need to be mitred.
Cut 2 pieces to batten to 400mm in length and take one piece of batten and hold it between the front and rear timbers at one side ensuring it is leveled flush with the top edges of both front and rear timbers.
Once fully lined up use a pencil to mark the inside at the points where the timber meets the front and back uprights. This will define the exact mitre angle that the timber needs to be cut to, to fit between them.
Once marked use a hand saw or mitre saw to cut the timber to size and repeat this for the other side also.
Once both sides are cut to size, use a 3mm pilot drill bit and drill a pilot hole through the front and rear uprights, ensuring you hold the drill at a slight angle to mimic angle of the mitres and then pop your timber in place.
Using a 2 1/2 inch wood screw, screw the timber in place and again repeat this for the other side.
Once done we have now completed the main framework for the nest box.
Clad the Outside of the Nesting Box
Now that we have completed the framework the next task is to start cladding the outside to create our nesting box.
Search through your pile pallet timbers and select 4 decent pallet slats of the same length and size. As our nesting box is going to be 1000mm wide, select pallet slats of this length.
Once selected use your 3mm pilot drill bit to drill a pilot hole around 8 to 10mm from the edge roughly in the centre of the edge of all the slats.
Flip the framework onto its front and then lay your 4 pallet slats over the back and use 1 1/4 inch wood screws to screw them into place.
Next, cut 5 pallet slats to 360mm in length and again use your 3mm pilot drill bit to drill a pilot hole around 10 mm in from the edge at the centre of the timber.
As before use 1 1/4 inch wood screws to screw the slats to the side of the nesting box.
The final task to complete the cladding of the side is to take the fifth slat and align it on top of the top slat you’ve just screwed into place and then use a pencil to mark the angle it needs to be cut to.
One marked cut this slat to the correct angle and then use your 3mm drill bit to drill two pilot holes on the front edge and then one each along the base and down the sloped section and then screwed in place.
Repeat these exact steps for the other side and once done our nest box should be fully cladded.
Construct the Nesting Box Roof
With the main body of our nesting box now fully completed it’s time to start work on making the roof.
Search through pile of timber slats and find 5 pallet slats (put 1 to the side for now) 1200mm in length (to give an overhang either side) and 90 mm wide on lay them out on your workbench or on the floor and square them up so the edges are all aligned.
Next, using a pencil and tape measure, measure and mark in 150mm top and bottom either side and then draw a line between the marks.
On the very rear pallet slat, measure and mark 30mm back down this line on both sides and then draw a line between these two marks.
The points you have just marked out now define the inside area of the nesting box and will now allow us to see where we can fix timbers to join all our roofing slats together so that they don’t foul the framework when closed.
Now, cut 2 lengths of batten to 320mm in length and as we did with the base, flip the whole lot over, slide under our length of batten, drill some pilots holes and then use 1 1/4 inch wood screws to screw the slats to the batten. Again repeat for the other side also.
To provide a decent overhang at the rear to prevent any water from running down the back wall of the nesting box we are going to add a fifth slat.
To do this we are going to need to fix battens either side of the roof so that we can screw through the side of the batten and hold the additional slat in place.
Cut two pieces of batten to 490mm in length then use an angled or sliding bevel and set it to the angle of the slope of the roof and mark this on end of the baton.
Once the angle has been marked use a hand saw or mitre saw to cut end of the batten to the correct angle. This will allow the roof of the nesting box to butt up tightly to the back of the chicken coop once fixed in place.
With correct mitre angles cut, place one of the battens on its side and measure and mark down from what will be the top edge, roughly 8 to 10 mm either end of the batten and then draw a line between them.
Now drill five pilot holes along this line making sure that two of the pilot holes are drilled closely together at the opposing end from the mitred end. This will provide a secure fixing for fifth slat that will be effectively hanging over the end.
Once the pilot holes have been drilled use 1 3/4 inch wood screws to screw the button to the sides of the slats. Once the first piece of batten is fixed in place, repeat for the other side.
Now that the roof is fully formed, pop it on top of your nesting box and test the fit, making sure that neither internal button is fouling on the framework.
Construct Nesting Stalls
The next job is to now compartmentalize the inside of the nesting box so that each chicken has its own little box to nestle down and lay its eggs.
First we need to decide how many stalls we want to add inside our nesting box. Due to its size, 880mm, you don’t want to add to many that will make it too cramped for the chickens to nest in so in this instance four should be ideal.
Now, divide 880mm by 4 which is 220mm so with this in mind, we want to fix a divider every 220mm. Using a tape measure and mark a point every 220mm along the back of the nesting box which should total 3 points.
In terms of what to use for the dividers this can really be anything, in this case we are going to use some 18mm plywood.
Cut each divider to roughly 280mm in length and around 150mm to 200mm high.
Once cut to size, measure and mark 50mm high by 30mm deep notch back edge of each divider. This is so it fits around the framework that’s fixed to the base.
Take one of the dividers and position it over one of the marks on the base of the nest box and then use a pencil mark down either side of the divider and also up both back edges then remove it.
Using a 3mm drill bit, drill 2 pilot holes between the lines along the base and also up the rear edge flip the nesting box over, position that divide a back into place under then screw through base and the back edge to secure the divider in place. Repeat this for the other two dividers.
Fully Treat the Entire Nesting Box and the Roof
With all of the construction pretty much now done, fully treat the nesting box using a timber treatment. In this instance we are going to use some Cuprinol fence and shed treatment.
Before using any treatments on any timber to be used around animals make sure you read the manufacturers directions fully to ensure that it is safe to use in these situations and won’t cause any harm.
Using a paint brush, brush the treatment on making sure that you cover the entire exterior of the box fully including the top edge of the frame.
Once the nesting box is fully covered do the same for the roof and leave both too dry, ideally overnight and then give both a second coat the following day.
Felt the Nesting Box Roof
Once everything is dry the next job is to now felt the roof of the nesting box prevent any water and moisture seeping through to the inside.
To felt the roof we are going to use a standard roll of roofing felt.
Roll the felt out on a flat and level surface such as a floor and then position the roof so that there is roughly 50 to 60mm overlap along the top and side edge.
Using a Stanley knife and a straight edge such as a spirit level, cut the felt to size so that there is a 50 or 60mm overhang all the way around.
Taking your time and starting with the sides first, fold both of them over and nail them in place using 10mm felt nails.
Where any sections overlap to the point that they are bulky difficult to fold use the knife to trim away the section underneath so that the top piece of felt covers the cutaway section.
Once the underside has been fully nailed and secured, flip a roof over and nail the top side also.
Cut out the Back of the Chicken Coop and Fix the Nesting Box in Place
Now that we have finished construction of the nesting box it’s time to get it fixed to the chicken coop. To do this we are going to need to chop out the back at the chicken coop to the correct size in the nesting box.
First, measure the internal width and height of the opening on the nesting box. In the case of our box it’s 880mm wide by 430mm high.
Using these measurements mark out the area to be cut out on the back of the chicken coop making sure that the cut hole is central.
Fortunately as our chicken coop is already made of pallets and we’ve used pallets of the same size to construct the nesting box and in filled the gaps by overlaying slats, the cut hole is fairly easy to make.
Firstly, unscrew any slats up to the mark that we made to define the size of the whole we need.
Now, use a jigsaw to cut away any remaining pallet slats or pieces of timber to get correct size opening.
So that the nesting box has something to rest on while getting it in place and also to support it while it’s in use screw a piece of batten to the base of the chicken coop so that when the nesting boxes is in place both floors are at the same level.
At this point it’s a good idea to get some help in order to supports the nesting box while you’re fixing it in place.
Maneuver nesting box into position and with your second pair of hands holding it in place access the inner side of the coup and using 1 1/2 inch wood screws, screw through the floor into the batten, up both sides and along the top in four or five locations across each side.
Once fully screwed in place through the floor your nesting box should no be fully supported.
Fix the Roof to the Nesting Box
The final job now is secure the roof in place so place the roof on top of the nesting box and centralise it so that the overhang either side is the same.
Using some small t-hinges position them so that they are over the top of the batten used to fix the slats that make up the roof together and screw them in place to the batten and the roof.
Now finally push the roof right up so that it butts up to the back of the chicken coop and screw the hinge into the back of the coop.
Open and close the roof just to make sure everything is fine and the hinges aren’t binding.
Fix Latch in Place to Secure Roof
One of the final jobs left to do now is to fix a latch in place so that when the roof is closed it can be locked shut, preventing it blowing open or any other critters from getting in.
For this we are going to use a standard gate latch so take the latch and position it in place underside of the roof overhang and using a screw mark through each fixing hole.
Open up the roof fully, locate the fixing holes and screw the latch in place.
Next, close the roof and position the Keep in to its locating slot in the latch and push it up do the back of the nesting box. Holding the keep in place, open the latch then screw the keep firmly in place.
Cover the Gap Between the Roof and the Back of the Chicken Coop
The final job to do now is to cover over the gap between the roof and the back of the chicken coop to prevent any water and moisture running down the back of the coop and into the inside of the nesting box.
For this we are going to use an old piece of roofing rubber. Cut the rubber to size allowing for a 50mm overhang either side.
Lay the rubber down on a flat surface and using some weather mate apply two beads to the top edge of the rubber.
Move the rubber in place onto the roof so that the beads of Weather Mate are flat to the back of the chicken coop. Centralise the rubber ensuring there is an equal overhang either side and then use a stapler to staple it in place.
Next, use some felt nails to nail the rubber down to the top of the roof and also along the sides this will prevent any water from blowing up under and into the box.
The final task now is to screw a length of pallet slat to the back of the coop over the rubber fixed to the back to totally seal it up.
Once this has been done you are now pretty much finished good job!
Constructing and building a nesting box to fit to a chicken coop is a fairly straightforward job and certainly one that’s well worthwhile as if you have happy and comfortable chickens you are certain to enjoy bountiful supply of eggs.