When I began keeping chickens, I mistakenly believed I was supposed to use straw in the nest boxes without understanding the purpose of nesting material. I quickly found that my hens scratched and kicked-out most of the straw from the nest boxes, leaving a hollow in the center of the box exposing bare wood, resulting in no protection from breakage for the eggs. Long strands of golden straw make a lovely, rustic-looking nest for photographing eggs, but regular straw does not perform well in nest boxes or in chicken coops in general. A few of the most common, effective nesting materials range from pine shavings to plastic pads and chopped hay/straw/ zeolite litter blends.
Hens do seem to enjoy rearranging nesting material, but its function is protecting eggs, not entertaining the hens. Some chicken keepers mistakenly believe that nesting boxes should provide a comfortable seating area for hens, but nesting material is not intended to provide a cozy sanctuary for hens to settle in for the long-haul. If you have a broody hen who would like to spend all day sitting in a nest box, set her up for hatching success somewhere eggs aren’t going to be laid by other birds.
Eggs that have a soft spot to land will be less likely to break than those that drop onto the bottom of a hard nest box. I use plastic nest pads and bottoms with or without chopped straw or Standlee Flock Fresh or chopped straw on top of them. The plastic nesting material cannot be kicked out of the nest by hens, protects eggs, is easy to clean in the event of a broken egg and is easy to sanitize. That’s a winning combination in my book!