Rollaway Nest Boxes

What is a rollaway nest box and why would you need one.  As the name implies a rollaway nest box is designed to allow the egg, once laid to roll away to safety after the hen hops off the nest.  This is beneficial for a number of reasons, less chance of egg eating, less chance of eggs being broken, cleaner eggs and cleaner nest boxes (no broken eggs).  Overall these benefits reduce wastage (broken and unsaleable eggs) and reduce handling time when collecting and packing eggs.  A single rollaway nest is up for grabs at around $60 and banks of 4 or more start at $200.  Needless to say I have been looking for other methods and materials that may come in a little cheaper.

First find your materials

Old lockers anyone?

Bringing back bad memories for anyone?

We were lucky to pick up two banks of lockers when we bought our place, I intend to keep some doors attached, to keep anything that may need to be under lock and key.  Otherwise the doors are not only a nuisance they are just a little bit dangerous, so far nobody has collected themselves on the corner of an open door.

Let’s see what we can make from these doors…

First remove your door...

Now let’s get creative…

Two side walls and the back wall, it is starting to take shape.

Just a little bit of trig (it's been a while, thanks to our resident maths teacher for the refresher)

It is important that we angle the floor of the nesting box enough for the egg to roll away but we do not want it to gather too much momentum, for that cracking moment, or that the angle is uncomfortable for our hard working ladies.

Getting that vital angle right

Looks ok to me, we are still very much in the experimental stages, this unit is Mark II.

Now to create something to catch the egg in, more scrounging reveals some plywood and other assorted pieces of timber.

Almost done, all we need is a hinged lid.

Another beef I have with the conventional store bought options is what they try to sell you to line the nest with.  Yes, I am sure that the Astroturf option does do everything it is advertised to do, and at $55 for a 15 metre roll it is definitely an option for cashed up poultry producers.  Possibly due to my genetics there is a stubborn streak that comes to the fore when undertaking such a project.

Enter feedbag nest liners

Quick look busy, the boss is watching.

The other end of the feed bag nest liner will be pinned down in the egg box to keep it taught, this will be down in such a fashion that it is relatively easy to remove when changing the feed bags every 2 weeks or so.

MK I in place.

The main mistake I made with MK I is that I mounted it on the side of the chook tractor, as I tend to move the tractors across the slope, where possible, this means that it seriously affects the angle of the floor; one of my vague moments.

Ready for installation

Time to get some exercise, I haven’t offered the little ones a ride up the hill after the first couple of times I took them up, it is quite a workout.

All the way up to the top tractor on the right.

In this picture you can see all four of our chook tractors… oh to have rollaway nesting boxes in all of them.

The current nesting box that will be replaced by MK II.

These old grasscatchers work ok, but they’re certainly not cheap anymore, $10 each from our local tip shop.

MK II in place with practice egg in sight.

Apparently it works.

Anyone care to comment on the seriously dodgy part of the whole contraption as seen in this last photo?  I really let myself down here and will fix it as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

I was up at this tractor today fixing the watering system and could see that three girls had braved the new nesting box.  Three lovely clean Isa Brown eggs.

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