After investing time and money in the feeding and care of laying hens, you can become discouraged to see some hens pecking eggs open. It's a pain, too, to spend extra time washing remaining eggs to remove broken egg and hen feces from them. A rollaway nest box allows eggs to roll into a protected area where the hens cannot access it, keeping them safe and clean.
Make an easily constructed rollaway nest box using 18-gallon plastic storage totes with a few modifications. A large hole cut in one of the ends of the tote will allow the chicken access to the interior of the nest box. Securing the box at a slight angle will encourage the egg to roll away from under the hen and under a wood partition where it is out of sight from the hen and cannot be easily accessed.
A 3-foot-by-4-foot pallet will provide the base for two nesting boxes. A 4-foot length of 2-by-4 lumber underneath the front edge of the pallet will provide the necessary tilt to cause the egg to roll to the back. A 15-by-13-inch wood partition will set apart the area where eggs will collect. Use four 3-inch screws and four 1-inch screws for fasteners. Artificial grass turf provides the base of the nest and cushions eggs as they roll. Cut one piece measuring 17 inches by 26 inches for each nest.
Assembling the Nest
Screw the 2-by-4 to the front underside of the pallet with the 3-inch screws to provide tilt. Cut a large hole in one end of the tote for hens to enter. Seat the wood partition across the width of the tote, the longest dimension, about 6 inches from the rear, and attach it to the sides of the tote with two 1-inch screws on each side. Leave enough room for eggs to roll easily underneath. Slide artificial turf on to the floor, curling excess slightly up the rear of the tote to cushion eggs. Replace the lid and set on top of the angled pallet.
Cut extra lengths of artificial grass so you can easily swap out nest liners when hens defecate inside. Hose down the soiled one and allow it to dry in the sun to kill bacteria. The top of the nest box should be lower than the roosting area in your hen house to keep chickens from perching and defecating on top. This will also make it easy for you to remove the tops and collect the eggs.