Nest boxes are an essential part of keeping hens and it is worth paying attention to creating a fantastic laying environment for hens.
It is worth it because it saves you hunting for eggs as hens will lay in the safest, most inaccessible places.
Often on farms I have gone to look at chooks that have gone off the lay.
I have found, with some detective work, a large horde of eggs deep in the foundations of the homestead or down by the creek.
It is frustrating and unnecessary if you take a few simple precautions.
In the old days you would just use an old wooden crate and pack it with some straw.
Nowadays it is near impossible to get a wooden crate and straw is expensive - so what can we do?
You can certainly make a wooden nest box that will suffice and there are plenty of diagrams and instructional videos on the internet.
They are serviceable and if they have nice, soft filler such as husks, straw or sawdust they will be well used.
I still have some of these in older pens and they have been serviceable over the years.
In a more modern vein, I have been using recycled plastic containers cut with an angle grinder to a suitable shape.
These are very well received by the hens and have one big advantage over wood in that they are easy to clean and don't harbour pests like the wooden ones.
This means I save on pesticides and also can just take then out, hose off, replace the sawdust and put back in very quickly.
The hens don't care and is what the sustainability people call 'up-cycling'.
If the hens lay on the floor or elsewhere, and not in the nest boxes, you can fix this easily.
I suggest putting a few fake eggs such as river rocks in the boxes or use one of those fake plastic egg things they use in fridges.
This will encourage them and seems to work on all types of birds.
Don't forget with Christmas and warm days, if you are away, ensure the birds have water and shade.
Coming home to dead or weak birds isn't a great holiday and they deserve the best from us. Have a great break and hope to see more fanciers in the New Year.