If you have laying chickens and have been frustrated by chickens that are eating their eggs, this may work for you. I have tried the different techniques and read the articles about nutrition and such, but nothing seems to stop them from eating the eggs except moving the eggs away form the chickens. I’ve even seen the chickens hovering over one that is laying, so they can get the egg as soon as she is up. (So frustrating.) I enjoy them and the fresh eggs, but it is getting far too expensive to fill their belly with feed and then have them eat the eggs, too.
I have 16 hens and this plan makes a 6 nest assembly. The hens lay the egg in the carpeted area, and when they get up, the egg rolls forward into a holding area. The holding area is easily opened and easy to clean. Total project time is about 4 hours.
Download Free Plans [PDF]
1 – 4′ x 8′ x 5/8″ Plywood/CDX (OSB is not recommended)
1 – 4′ x 8′ x 3/8″ Plywood/CDX (OSB is not recommended)
4 – 1″ x 4″ x 8′ No. 2 Common Board
4 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ Furring Strips
4 – 4″ Gate Hinge/ T-Hinge
12 sq. ft. Outdoor Carpet / Thin Door Mats (with a smooth surface for rolling)
1/2″ pipe foam insulation (bumper material)
Start by cutting the 4 dividers and notch them for the furring strips that will be “let-into” the edges. It is quicker to clamp the four pieces, making sure that the corners are aligned, then cutting the roof angle and notches in all 4 panels at the same time.
Cut the furring strips and nail them into the notches. (I used an air nail gun, with 2” long, 18 gauge nails. These long thin nails minimize the risk of splitting the panels.) I did this with the panels laying on the back instead of standing. Attach the end panels first, then the center panels. Measure and mark the furring strips or accurate placement and easier fastening of the panels. I used the corner scraps to add more stiffness to the open frame, but it is not necessary, because the back panel will do the same.
Next, cut the back panel and attach it to the outer panels and the furring strips that run across the back. Note: Don’t nail the center panels yet, to allow for some flex/float to align with the laying tray notches in a later step.
Cut the Inner and Outer tray supports per details A & B in the plans. Measure and mark points on the inside of the back panel for the tops of all the tray supports. Next mark the edges of the divider panels for the bottom of the tray supports. Tack a strip in place to easy assembly and alignment of the tray supports. Position the tray supports and nail/screw them into divider panels, with shorter fasteners. Pay attention to the location of the tray supports, making sure that the longer tray supports (2) are on the outside, while the shorter tray supports (4) are on the center divider panels. Remove the alignment strip after fastening the tray supports.
Cut and notch the nesting tray bases (2) per the dimension in detail D of the plans. It is best to have the notches a fraction wider and deeper to minimize interference and easier alignment during assemble. If it is too tight, you may need to go back a trim/adjust. Assemble the upper deck laying tray base first, to have better access when fastening from the bottom of the tray base into the tray supports. Next, install the lower deck laying tray base, and attach the base kickboard. (The kickboard will prevent dirt from filling up underneath, and avoid nesting by mice/pests.)
Next, make the two tray covers, per detail C in the plans. To set the angle between top and front, cut a bevel on the top of the front board, the fasten the cover panel with fasteners, making sure to center the front with the top panel. Add the top furring strip to the tray cover, which will act as a stiffener. Attach the cover to the laying trays with the T-hinges, then mark the inside of the cover to position the shorter blocks between the tray supports. Then add the roof panel, which prevents the chickens from roosting above the nesting boxes. (If you do not put the unit against the wall, you may need to put something on the top ridge. Bird anti-perching devices will work.)
Cut and fit the carpet/mats for the laying trays. Attach pieces of foam to the cover front board to stop the eggs at the end of the roll. To avoid the eggs from rolling out when the cover is opened, add a wedge to the front of the mat. (I attached them to the mat, so I could pull them out and have a smooth surface to easily brush out any dirt that gets into the nest box, without a lip or edge to stop the dirt.)
To add more protection to the eggs, I added a curtain that is slit into strips. This is an old feed bag and is used to hide the eggs that are down the ramp, which discourages the chickens for reaching under the cover to crack/eat the eggs that hit the sides and don’t roll all the way to the bottom. (See pictures below, including the “eggs-eye” view.)
When you place the unit in your coop, fasten it to the wall through the back panel, to avoid the unit from tipping. If you do not want to fasten it then you will need to add legs that extend forward by attaching them to side panels.
I have had good success with this design. I hope you do too! Blessings!
Well, for my chickens there was a big flaw in this design. Considering that the eggs had to roll from behind, through their legs and into the protected…it was not as successful as. I’d hoped. ( It’s like those nature films that show hatched sea turtles scampering across the beach, but only a few would survive the seagull gauntlet.) Same for my eggs. I took it back to the shop and did a retrofit to make the back the front. This allows the egg to leave the chicken’s vent and be gin it’s journey to safety. So far it has been successful. I don’t know how much, because they are coming out of a moly right now and I don’t know how many are laying eggs. Here are some pictures of the retrofit.