introducing new chickens to an established flock
Garbage bin nest box
Small garbage bins make excellent nest boxes.  They are cheap, can be set up without the use of carpentry equipment, portable and easy to clean.  By far the simplest way of providing nest boxes for your hens.

advantages/disadvantages summary

My original galvanised iron
rubbish bin nest boxes.
  • Cheap.  A 60 Litre Willow plastic garbage bin costs $16 at Bunnings (Nov 2014).
  • Very easy to install.  No carpentry required.
  • Portable.  As they are not attached to anything they can be moved with ease.
  • Easy to clean. Simply take outside, empty the straw and hose down with a pressure hose.
  • Offer less cover for spider mites than wooden nest boxes as there are virtually no cracks for the mites to hide in.

  • As they are usually placed on the ground it is easier for rats to access the nest box.  Though it would be relatively easy to set these bin nest boxes up on a bench.
  • Being a watertight container there is a possibility the rear end of the nest box will fill with water if exposed to the elements. 

Plastic 60 litre rubbish bin nest
box with bricks in position.

Rubbish bin nest box interior
with straw in place.
  1. Lay the bin on its side on the ground where you want the nest box to be.
  2. Place a brick either side of the box.  They are there to stop the bin from rolling sideways.
  3. Put a brick at the front of the  bin.  This is to stop the straw from falling out and to create a sense of seclusion for the nesting hen.
  4. Loosely pack straw into the  bin to the height of the brick.  Slightly flatten the straw in the centre to create the nesting hollow.  To encourage the hens to lay there I place a fake egg in the centre of this hollow.

About once every couple of months I take the bin out of the coop, dump the contents and give it a good hose down with a pressure hose.  This is to deter spider mites and remove any smelly residue from broken eggs.  The old straw will also be pretty dirty and stale.

HOW TO make a nest entrance using the garbage bin lid

In place of a brick at the front of the nest box you can cut a hole in the lid of the bin.  To do this :-
  1. Rubbish bin lid with section to be
    cut out marked with a marker pen.

    Rubbish bin lid with entrance section cut out.  I used a grinder to cut the lid but a sharp knife should do the job.

    Completed nest box entrance with 13 millimetre polypipe on the lip to cover the sharp edges.

    Close up of the 13 millimetre polypipe on the lip of the entrance.

    Photo of milk crate chicken nest boxes, image courtesy of the internet.
    Milk crate nest boxes, image
    courtesy of the internet.
    With a marker pen draw a line on the lid in a half moon shape.  At the top and either sides of the lid the line should be fairly close to the edge but at the bottom there should be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the lid left intact.
  2. With a sharp knife cut out the top of the bin following the line.  For the bin shown in the photos on the right I used a small grinder with a thin grinding wheel as it was much quicker.
  3. Take a section of 13 millimetre polypipe and make a straight cut with scissors along the entire length of the pipe.
  4. Push the polypipe onto the edge of the hole in the lid that you cut.  This is to provide a smooth edge to avoid any cuts to the heads and feet of your hens.

As rubbish bin nest boxes are are the only ones I have ever used I cannot directly compare them to other types of nest boxes but as the work so well I have never felt the need to try any alternatives. 

other types of nest box containers
I started using rubbish bins as nest boxes because that was what I had available at the time,  however there is no reason why other types of containers can't be used, for example drums or milk crates.  It's just up to your imagination and ingenuity.