by Jennifer Sartell
At times I thought we were crazy, as each chick found its way home in a makeshift cardboard box. Heat blasting from the car blower to keep things nice and toasty, I would stop at a red light, wipe the sweat from my forehead and peek in the box one more time to see the shining little eyes and all that fluff looking back at me. With that familiar, soft “peep,” a smile would involuntarily spread across my face. Yup, crazy … crazy for chickens.
This year we have more chickens than I’ve ever had at once. Our flock numbers have always fluctuated, but our current number is 48, with 35 laying hens. Needless to say, as our new little girls came of age, we needed more egg boxes. I’d like to share with you our design for building 21 egg boxes for around $30. Each box is approximately 12″ tall, 14″ wide and 13″ deep. The whole contraption takes up very little floor space, as it rises 2 feet off the ground. It has removable front slats for easy cleaning, and each row of boxes has a convenient ledge for our hens to land on before choosing a box. It’s an egg box condominium!
- 3 sheets 4’x8′, 7/16″ plywood (we found them at Home Depot for $8 each)
- 1-1/4″ wood screws
- 3 2′ sections of a 2×4 (for support)
- At least 8 “L” brackets
- Drill with Phillips bit
- Circular saw
Our chicken coop is 8’x12′. We built the egg boxes against the large wall, using the existing wall as the back of the condominium.
The first sheet of plywood should be cut as follows:
The notches will fit inside each other and create the boxes. This design also gives additional support and eliminates the need to drill tons of screws at weird angles. The notches should be a little wider than 1/2″. We marked the width, cut the outside lines, then repeatedly used the width of the blade to cut out the remaining material.
The second sheet should be cut as follows:
It has almost the same cut marks, except the notches will not be needed for the ceiling and floor.
The third sheet should be cut as follows:
Lay the 6 vertical cross pieces inside the frame, notches facing up, parallel to each other, approximately 14 inches apart.
Interlace the 2 horizontal cross pieces with the notches facing down into the notches of the vertical pieces, until you have what looks like a tic tac toe board on steroids.
You can now add the bottom. We screwed the boards into the ends of the perpendicular cross board, but you can use “L” brackets to make things easier.
Ask a friend who loves chickens as much as you do to help you lift the whole thing upright against the wall. Use “L” brackets to attach the condominium to the wall, and give your friend some free eggs.
Use the 2′ 2×4″ pieces vertically at the bottom, toward the front to give the whole structure extra support.
Screw a few screws in the floor of each ledge, so that an inch or so of the screw is still exposed, approximately 1/2 inch from the wall of the boxes. This will hold the removable slats upright. The removable slats will be around 3″ tall and will slide in and out for easy clean up of the boxes. We simply remove the slats and brush out the soiled chips with a hand broom or trowel, replace the slats and fill each box with clean pine chips.
Check out all the new and exciting things we do around our farm. Visit Iron Oak Farm.