DIY nest boxes from kitty litter pails

We found an amazingly simple and free way to expand our nest box space in the Silkie coop. Cat litter tub nest boxes! They're free and really easy to transform into nest boxes, plus the chickens seem to love them. If you have Silkies then you know that they don't fly very well. They do this sort of flap & hop thing that can get them up to a low perch, but that's about it.

In the Silkie coop, the nest boxes sit on the ground. We have a few nest boxes, but with broody season kicking in they are always full. I even have 3 hens with chicks already in their 'condos' and still the nest boxes are full. We're talking 4 hens in 1 nest box! I take the hens out, they pack themselves right back in. *sigh*

painting cat litter tubs into nest boxes

So clearly we need more nest boxes and didn't want to spend a lot because they will only get used in the broody season. They also needed to be removable since we would store them away from the coop in winter. Well, we had a few empty kitty litter tubs sitting behind the shed and thought they would do. 

They are a lot like our current nest boxes: plastic and easy to clean being the main points. Plus, these were free! We just needed to make them a little cuter of course. lol

How to: cat litter nest boxes


We just happened to have an empty Tidy Cat tub and a Litter Clean bucket, though any cat litter pail of roughly the same size will do. Give them a quick scrubbing to remove any cat litter residue. I was worried about the scented litter having chemicals in it, but natural litters are probably fine without the wash. 

Wiggle the lid back and forth till it snaps off. You're only doing a partial lid removal...the larger part of course. If it wont snap off easily, score it lightly with an exacto knife first then pop it off. Lay the box on it's side and fill with bedding and you are ready to go! 

Cat litter pail reuse: nest box

The hens seem to like them, and with more nest box options, things are much less crowded. Plus, like the other ones they are washable and sturdy....and in the winter when nobody is broody I can just take them out and store them in the garage. Plus....did I mention they were FREE!?

How to paint nest boxes


After using these for awhile I decided to fancy them up a bit. A can of Krylon or Rustoleum plastic paint from Walmart is all it takes to make these bins look less like cat litter tubs! (I used Fusion for plastic by Rustoleum) I picked a pretty color called Blue Hyacinth and it was under $4 a can. 

One can of spray paint covered both boxes and there's plenty left in the can. I simply spray painted them as directed, making sure to get them well covered. They don't need taped off or anything, though you should make sure they're clean before you paint.

free nest boxes

I washed mine first because we had been using them as nest boxes for awhile. I didn't want the paint to stick to dirt and then flake off! I didn't spray the insides, but you could if you wanted to. I think they're cute! I might even add some cute chicken stencils to the outside. Not too bad for practically free!


Update: Wow did this idea take off! Since posting this I have seen the idea replicated by a bunch of chicken keepers. Super flattering! Many of them mounted the kitty litter box nest boxes to the walls for their chickens, which makes total sense if you don't have silkies. I like the ones who built shelves so the tubs can still be taken down to be washed. We've also been linked to by Buzzfeed! (crazy super flattering!) Who would have thought some extra buckets would get so much attention? Let me know if you try it!

~L

If your chicken love their new nest boxes so much they sleep in them, here's how I Keep Chickens from Sleeping In The Nest Boxes.

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free next boxes

23 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm always looking for ways to save money....this fit the bill perfectly!

      ~L

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  2. What a great idea!! We are thinking about raising chickens, pinning everything I can including this blog.

    Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist, remember the link up goes until Saturday so come back and link up some more chicken info.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the pin! I really appreciate it!

      ~L

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  3. Great idea! Pinned it! Thanks for sharing (visiting from Clever Chicks blog hop)

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    Replies
    1. Glad you like it. Thanks for the pin!

      ~L

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  4. Wonderful idea! Thanks for following me, I am following you back. :) Excited to share our chicken adventures together!

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    Replies
    1. Great! Me too....always need new chicken friends! Congrats on the new kitty.

      ~L

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  5. I did that when we had chickens, worked great. Glad you found something cheap that works for you as well.

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    Replies
    1. They are great, plus...they wash right off! Thanks for stopping by!

      ~L

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  6. Great idea! I am going to use it for sure.

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  7. Love your nesting boxes that is perfect. B

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  8. Hey whatever works. I think they look great. Did you chickens lay that many eggs?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I have about a dozen hens in that coop. They're bantys though, so there may be a lot of eggs but their not very big! lol

      ~L

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  9. Just got you added to my blogroll. Thanks for having me on your sidebar.

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  10. Such a cool idea. With three indoor cats I always have those kitty littler boxes. I try to find ways to reuse them and this is awesome!

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    1. We use them for everything from small compost bins to poop-scraper buckets. Any way we can re-use, and I'm all for it!

      ~L

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  11. Great idea. Thanks for coming to the HomeAcre Hop. Come back and see us this week: http://everythinghomewithcarol.com/self-sufficient-homeacre-hop-3/

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  12. Love this great idea! If I only had cats :-( Maybe I'll try craigslist to find some buckets....

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    Replies
    1. Maybe try the local yahoo freecycle group? Somebody is bound to have some extras. Good luck!

      ~L

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