Our chicken Shygirl has gone broody – this means she’s decided it’s time for some babies, so she has planted herself in a nesting box to incubate the eggs which we hope are beneath her. For the next few weeks, if all goes well, she will only leave the nest briefly to eat and defecate. Not wanting to disturb her, we have no photo, but it’s kind of funny to see her all hunkered down, looking very wide and flat, the better to cover all the eggs.
When one hen goes broody, it can be a stress on the others (the favorite nesting box is always occupied), and they will also try to lay their eggs under the broody hen, eventually resulting in a mountain of eggs that can’t be kept warm enough. That’s why I built this box yesterday, to give Shygirl a safe place to incubate and to stop the other birds from laying eggs under her (or wherever the heck they have been laying them lately! Some happy raccoon probably knows but we don’t).
The back 1/3 of the box will be filled with hay and smushed down to make a hollow for her nest, and the front part will hold small food and water dishes. It has no bottom, so she can drop her chicken poops onto the bedding beneath the box. It looks like a little bird jail, but it’s all a brooding hen wants – privacy and nearby food and water.
This evening at dusk, when they’re winding down, we will move the brooding box into the darkest corner of the henhouse and attempt to transplant eggs and hen into it…that should be fun =p
The box itself is made from one cut-up shipping pallet, a few screws, and some of the chicken-wire that held our potato mounds together last year. The top is now hinged, so the front 12″ can be opened for changing food and water. The entire top is also removable for transport and cleaning.
I bet you’ll have no trouble believing that this was built without any written plans, but it is sturdy, mostly recycled, and I think it will work very well.
Here it is with the lid removed:
Here’s the lid, made of 3/4″ plywood so it’s too heavy for our little chickens to mess with:
…and here’s Daks “helping”: