I built my first coop a few years ago before having chickens- needed a place to put chickens, and I built the nest box off some plans I found online. Well, the chickens never used the nest box, and I've always suspected it was too small.
Then we got ducks and they lived in the same coop. The ducks would lay so early in the morning, and then the chickens just wanted their eggs in the same pile, so nobody used the nest box, and it was too high up for the ducks to get into.
Now I'm building a new coop so the chickens can move out on their own without the ducks. For 3 years, I've been half climbing inside the coop every evening to collect eggs- it sucks. Got any ideas on nest box size? Skip the whole thing?
Get you a big metal serving spoon like you see in cafeterias and resteruants, wire that to old broom handle, then skip the boxes just reach down and scoop the eggs up. Grandpa came up with this when grandmas chickens stopped reading the manuals and started laying under the boxes or behind the feeder or in any other out of the way hard to get place.
To keep chickens reliably using nests they need to be locked up with them part of the day. We always kept them locked up till noon and turned them loose to forage in the yard for the afternoon. Most of the eggs come in the morning hours and a chicken who is going to lay an egg in the afternoon is kept habituated enough to using the nests that they will nearly always go back to the nests for the occasional afternoon egg. Butcher the rare hen who won't follow those rules.
Country oriented nerd with primary interests in alternate energy in particular solar. Dabble in gardening, trees, cob, soil building and a host of others.