How to Make Nest Box Curtains
Laying Hens Appreciate Some Privacy to Get Their Job Done
By Erin Phillips – DIY nest box curtains are an easy and useful addition to any chicken coop design. Maybe you’ve seen them in photos of coops before and thought they were a little ridiculous. I admit I thought they seemed a little silly myself until I found out their purpose!
What’s Their Purpose?
Adding curtains to your nesting boxes does add some charm, but it also serves several useful purposes in your coop.
First of all, laying hens prefer a nest that feels safe and private. If your birds free range and have ever made nests out in the yard, you’ve seen this concept in action. When we find random nests, they are always tucked away, often under plants or behind shelves. Being surrounded on as many sides as possible helps protect the nest and ensure the eggs will stay safe through incubation. Adding DIY nest box curtains helps create this feeling for your birds.
Secondly, nesting box curtains can help prevent egg eating. This is what brought me to try them. When I started finding half-eaten eggs in our nesting boxes, I began investigating solutions. Sometimes simply blocking the view of the eggs helps stem off egg eating. It has been fairly successful in our coop.
Thirdly, putting curtains up on your nesting boxes may help prevent the spread of broodiness. Seeing a hen brooding may actually initialize this behavior in others. Blocking the nests with curtains may help prevent a firestorm of broodiness in your flock. Broody hens can be useful, but if you want to collect all your eggs, they can also be a challenge. We have seen less broodiness in our girls since adding DIY nest box curtains to our coop.
Finally, they help keep your chickens and eggs warm in the winter! Your DIY nest box curtains can help block drafts coming into the nests, keeping the space cozy and comfortable for your laying hens.
DIY Nest Box Curtains: The Easiest Way
Let’s start with the easiest method first. This way to make DIY nest box curtains is the simple, no-sew method. You’ll need an old sheet, a staple gun, and fabric scissors. Take them out to the coop and staple the sheet across the top of the run of nesting boxes. Trim the bottom of the sheet to the appropriate length. I usually make mine fall just past the bottom of the nesting boxes. Finally, approximate the middle of each nest and cut a slit up the middle, leaving about three inches at the top so the materials won’t tear through.
Sometimes I staple one side to the inside of each nest to sort of hold them open. Other times, I have just let them fall straight down. Try it both ways and see what your hens prefer. This is super easy and effective! With this simple design, you won’t feel bad tearing them down each spring and replacing them with new, clean ones.
DIY Nest Box Curtains: The Easy Way
If you want your DIY nest box curtains to add more charm to your coop and be useful, you may choose this second method. You’ll start by cutting two panels of cotton or poly-blend fabric for each nesting box. They will be slightly taller than the opening of the nest and about 2/3 the width of the opening. For example, for a 14 x 14-inch opening, you’ll want two panels about 15 x 9-inches each.
If you plan to wash and reuse your curtains, or if you just want a more finished look, you’ll want to fold over one-half to one-fourth of an inch and sew the edges of each panel. If you don’t have access to a sewing machine but like the finished look, experiment with no-sew seam tape or cutting your material with pinking shears.
Repeat until you have enough curtains for all your nesting boxes.
Use a staple gun to attach them to the top of your nests, overlapping the panels in the middle.
Again, you can decide whether or not to pin them open at the sides. This method allows you to mix and match fabrics, creating a fun décor. I raided my bin of fabric scraps for pieces to use. You can also buy remnant pieces for this purpose or use old t-shirts cut to the right size.
Some elements of chicken coop design are more utilitarian. You need to plan for things like how many chicken roosting bars your birds will require, but they are usually a fairly simple design element. DIY nest box curtains allow you to add a certain creativity to your coop in a meaningful way. Some people go all out, sewing actual curtains with rod pockets and nice hems, but this doesn’t need to be a really complicated project to be both beautiful and effective.