Why Chickens Need a Roost

Inside your chicken coop, you need to install a roost: this is a place for your chickens to sleep.  Once it starts to get dark, one by one your chickens will go into the coop itself and settle down for the night.  There are just a couple of things you need to keep in mind to give your chickens a safe, comfortable place to bed down.  Here is a photo of a chicken roost in their nesting boxes.

chicken roost

Why Provide a Roost for your Chickens?
By instinct, chickens want to roost (“go to bed”) in the highest point available, and be gathered together in a group for protection and warmth while they sleep.  Your chickens will be happier animals if you play to their instincts when you are designing their living space.  If you were to place multiple roosts inside your coop with some higher than others, they may fight to get the highest (“best”) spots:  to avoid this, you keep the roost at all the same level

What Does a Chicken Roost Look Like?
A chicken roost is a very simple board–a 2″ X 4″ or a 2″ X 2″–or a wooden clothes rod like you would put in a closet, or even a thick tree branch that is about 2″-3″ across.  Most research I have done recommend that if you are going to use a board, you round off the corners to make them easier to grip and smooth the edgees so the chickens will not get splinters.  It can be one simple piece, or, to fit more chickens in a small coop, placed in a “+” of two intersecting pieces, crossed in the middle, but all at the same height.

Chicken Roost Example
Here is an example of a chicken roost that can be fixed into the coop

Where is a Roost Placed?
The board/bod/branch for your roost is hung all at the same level, so that no bird is higher than another.  The most important part of placing your roost, though, is to know an important part of chicken life:  they poop (a lot!) during sleep.  If you know this before you install your roost, then you can select the areas of the coop that will get the most poop.  You can plan to have the poop fall on areas where you are not walking to gather eggs, and you can make sure the poop does not collect in the nesting boxes.  Just a little planning can go a long way toward making your chickens much easier to manage – who wants to clean off their shoes every day when they gather eggs?  Some people go so far as to place plastic trays or cat litter boxes filled with straw beneath the roost to collect the poop, which makes clean up even easier.  And straw and chicken manure, together, make a good garden supplement.

So there are two rules:
1.  Do not place the roost over the nesting boxes where the chickens will sit to lay their eggs, and
2.  Do not place the roost over your walking path to the nesting boxes to pick up the eggs.

How Long Does the Roost Need to Be?
Allow 9″-10″ of board length for each chicken.  If you have 3 chickens, then 27″ – 30″ of roost length will give them enough room to not have to fight for roost space.

chicken roost
An alternative is a portable chicken roost

What is the Little Ladder I Sometimes See Leading to the Roost?
Some people clip the ends of the chicken’s wings to keep them from flying away (and into the mouths of predators).  These chickens may need a little ladder to get up to their roost–a simple plank with some sticks screwed onto it for steps or a ledge helps the chickens to “get a grip”, so to speak, as they walk up to their roost.  If your chickens do not have clipped wings, you do not need to provide this.

7 Responses

  1. Leslie
    Leslie at |

    What an informative website you have! I plan to spend more time browsing your articles. I especially like that you have videos. The one of the chickens with the cabbage is particularly fun. They are just talking, talking and having a blast with that cabbage :)

  2. How Do I Add a Chicken to the Flock? | Pet Chickens

    […] a massive pecking on it.  They sneak the new chicken into the flock at night, right onto the roost with the other sleeping chickens.  When they awaken the next day, they accept that new chicken […]

  3. Rachael
    Rachael at |

    Hi
    I’m wondering if you cna tell me why our four chickens will not use their roost at night? Their “sleeping area” is elevated off the ground – they happily climb up there as the sun goes down – but none of them jump up on the roost. They all snuggle down on the floor in the hay. Apart from this, they seem to be happy birds and laying four eggs a day (not bad from three laying chooks – the fourth is just a couple of months old). Appreciate any help you can give.

  4. LINDA
    LINDA at |

    VERY INFORMATIVE.JUST WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR.
    THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS SITE.

  5. admin
    admin at |

    Hi Rachael,

    How about sending us photos of your coop and roost and all of us can take a look at them? We may be able to make suggestions once we see what the set up looks like. (I sent this to your email address, also.)

    Mary

  6. Alice
    Alice at |

    ~Hi, over the past 3 nights 2 of our chickens have taken to roosting outside they will not go into their coop – any ideas why this would happen

  7. Sandi
    Sandi at |

    My chickens(6)are 10 weeks old. They sleep on the top roost shelf which is fine. BUT in the morning they try to fly down (and out) through their coop door into their run. I have tried opening it first to ensure a safe flight, but a couple cannot make the flight correctly and almost hit the wall. I can add an additional “ladder’ but right now they seem to want to “show off” by flying. Should I clip their wings now, or is it too early.
    HELP!
    I really like your website.
    Sandi=Garden Girl

Leave a Reply