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.
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?
Here are some chicken perch ideas. 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 edges 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.
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 basic 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.
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.
So How do I Make Sure my Chickens can Find their Roost?
The most important part of making a safe and happy roost for your chickens is that you need to know how to build a chicken coop with all of these ideas in the design, and then it will not be a problem to incorporate everything your chickens need. So start at the top – the chicken roost. All you need to do is ensure you have enough roosting space for the number of chickens you have in your coop, but all they need is enough standing room on the roosting perch. Chickens are very cute, and they will all huddle together in the night to keep warm, and they won’t use up a lot of space, so the roosting area doesn’t need to be very large. But they definitely need a length of 2 x 2 inch wood to roost on, so that all the chickens can roost at the same height, and get up off the ground where they feel safe.
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After that, your coop should also provide a safe and secure area for the chickens to lay their eggs, which is why we need nesting boxes, which the chickens can share, but if you have more than 3 chickens, you probably need a couple of different nesting boxes.
And then the chickens need a bit of open space to find food and water – this can still be inside the coop, with a safe and secure wire frame to keep pests away from the chickens, and their food and water. Don’t worry if the chickens can’t run around too much, it is okay to keep them safe from predators. But they do like some space to run and flap, so the best way is to have a fenced “run” which can be attached to the chicken coop, but accessible through a chicken hatch, that can come and go through as often as they like, but you can lock up at night time.
So now your chicken coop has everything your chickens need, but you can also keep them safe and secure, and they can roost happily!
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