Chicken nesting box: Best nesting materials for broody hens

Do you, like many others, wonder how to make your chickens even happier and boost egg production? One key factor is choosing the best nesting materials for the nesting box. While wood shavings are a popular choice, they can absorb liquids and create dust particles that may affect the respiratory health of both chickens and humans. Fortunately, there are other excellent options to consider.

Regardless of the material your chicken nesting boxes are made from, it’s essential to use a filler. Proper nesting materials help keep eggs clean and prevent breakage, making cleaning the nesting box much easier.

In this article, you’ll learn:

How to Encourage Chickens to Lay in the Nesting Box

New layers are more likely to lay eggs outside the nest because they are unfamiliar with the designated laying area. Eggs laid outside the nest can get dirty, break, or even be eaten by the hens. Here’s how to ensure your chickens lay in the nesting box:

  • Provide Enough Nesting Boxes: Aim for one nest for every three hens. Without enough nesting boxes, some chickens might lose patience and lay elsewhere.
  • Choose Suitable Nesting Materials: Ensure your chickens feel comfortable in their nesting boxes by selecting the right materials.
  • Keep Nesting Boxes Clean: The best nesting materials, such as plastic, wood, and metal, make cleaning easier. Plastic and metal are particularly easy to sanitize.
  • Use Artificial Eggs: Place an artificial egg made from plastic, ceramic, or wood in the nest to train chickens to lay there.
  • Install Curtains: Curtains provide a sense of security, hide eggs from pecking chickens, and help retain heat after the hen leaves the nest.
  • Install an Automatic Chicken Coop Door: Protect your chickens from predators with an automatic door that opens at sunrise and closes at sunset, allowing you to sleep longer while keeping your flock safe.

Why Hens Need Nesting Materials

Regularly changing the filler in the nesting box is crucial as it provides a sense of security for your chickens, encouraging them to lay eggs in the same place. Studies show that hens prefer nests with loose nesting material over those without. This preference aligns with their natural behavior, as domesticated chickens still retain some instincts of their wild relatives, the red junglefowl.

Top 3 Best Nesting Materials for Broody Hens

Wood Shavings

  • Popular choices: pine and cedar
  • Benefits: pleasant aroma, dries quickly, inexpensive, and readily available
  • Provides warmth and comfort, making egg collection easy


  • Better than hay: drier and less mold-prone
  • Low-dust and low-pathogen content, essential for chickens’ weak respiratory systems
  • Affordable and easily accessible

Leaves and Grass

  • No-cost option using fallen leaves or grass clippings
  • Be cautious of chemicals and insects in yard waste
  • Needs frequent changing due to low absorbency

Additional Tips

Consider adding herbs to the nests. Herbs not only smell nice but can also improve egg production and contribute to the health and wellness of your laying hens. You can even make herbal tea for chickens using herbs like fennel, artemisia, kankerbossie, and garlic.

Remember, nesting boxes are where your hens will rest and lay eggs. If they feel comfortable and secure, they are more likely to lay eggs in the nesting box. Take good care of your flock, and you’ll enjoy healthy, delicious eggs for years to come. Share your experiences and tips in our Facebook group, Chicken&Egg Lovers.