Chicken sleeping on top of each other instead of roosts?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dalkeithowner, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. dalkeithowner

    dalkeithowner In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2013
    Hi everyone.

    I am increasingly concerned about the lack of roosting of my chicken.

    From the start when we bought them, two of them tended to sit in the nest boxes and two of them slept on the roosts, however i think they were actually standing on the litter tray under the roosts. I have done all sorts of things to change this behaviour:

    • sanded the edges of the roosts to make them rounder - no effect
    • Added a second layer of roosts too close for them to stand on the litter tray and about 4 inches higher. - with the effect that they tried to sleep in the nest boxes again
    • Waited until an hour after sunset and then moved them out of the nest boxes onto the rosts - with most effect but I don't fancy doing that every night.
    • Blocked off the nest boxes at night with some wood - worked the first night, then they moved the wood away.
    • Placed bricks in the nest boxes - they slept on them despite almost no headroom
    • Blocked on nest box off completely with bricks - ( did not have enough to do this with two of them)

    in the last case yesterday they were so desperate to not sleep on the roosts that two of them crouched next to each other with a third on top and the fourth next to them still on the other two's heads.

    I am thinking of blocking both nest boxes off but am worried what could drive them to so much length not to roost properly. The coop is new (about 4 weeks) I have checked for signs of red mite at night, use DE after washing it. If there are predators I doubt they have been anywhere near. The chicken came from two different farms are between 1 year (1 of them) and 20 weeks old (the other three). Two of them are laying. It's about 10 degrees centrigrade where we live at night, so I would not think they are cold.

    I guess I want to know:

    • Any idea why they behave like this?
    • Is it harmful if chicken don't roost (I'd happily clean after them daily if it needs be)
    • Any other suggestions what else I should try.
  2. txnative

    txnative Chirping

    Apr 30, 2013
    Kempner, Texas
    Are your roosts higher than the nest boxes?
  3. MossyoakLane

    MossyoakLane Chirping

    Apr 2, 2013
    Sonoma County, CA
    How old are your chickens? Mine did not start roosting until they were 16 weeks old or so.
  4. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    Mine slept in a pile until at least 16 weeks.

  5. TreehuggerMo

    TreehuggerMo In the Brooder

    Mar 8, 2013
    De Soto, MO
    All mine still sleep on top of each other and they are about 16 weeks. We have roost of three different heights but they seem to sit on them only by chance during the day. None of mine are interested in the nesting boxes yet so I guess that is a good thing. I'll be watching this post to see what the experts say as well because i have been worried as well.

  6. dalkeithowner

    dalkeithowner In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2013
    Thanks for all the responses so far. The nest boxes are about 4 inches lower than the roosts. The chicken are about 22 weeks old so I'd have assumed that by now they'd have started roosting.
  7. chickloveschick

    chickloveschick In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2014
    I have 2 Buff Orpington's and they prefer to sleep on top of each other. I call it, the "Chicken Tower." I was surprised to see my chickens sleeping this way. They don't do it every night, but most nights. I am new to chickens and I thought this was bizarre behavior. Apparently, this is normal according to the responses. They crack me up!!![​IMG]
    dappelrun likes this.
  8. krista74

    krista74 Songster

    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I think it's a learned behaviour from when they are little. Young chicks will often sleep in a cuddle puddle [​IMG]

    As they get older though, maybe it becomes less appropriate, because they end up sleeping on the dirt with all the poop and mess of the day. You could try and gently pick them up at night and place them on the roost. That way they would get the idea of the 'right' place to sleep.

    Also, a lot of people allow appropriate roosting space for their flock, but not enough of what I call 'flapping space.' It takes a lot of effort for the bigger hens to get up to roost at night, and they need space to be able to flap their wings and launch upwards without knocking others off the roost in the process. You might want to consider putting in a lower roosting bar which they can use as a step to assist them up to the top.

    The last thing I would consider is what material you use for their roosting bar. Contrary to popular belief, I have found that the larger birds prefer to perch on a flat bar, rather than a round one. I use a piece of 2" x 4" and put the 4" side facing upwards. That way the birds can sit flat on their feet, and it's more comfortable for them than constantly gripping a round bar all night.

    Just something to consider [​IMG] They are definitely cute like that though, and I love the pic!

    - Krista
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  9. I'm surprised! I've never seen it before!
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  10. Ponyfeather

    Ponyfeather Songster

    Feb 26, 2014
    Maybe try putting a very low roost? My inside chickens roosting bar is only a few inches off her cage floor and she loves it. With heavier breeds I think they can possibly be lazy, or not into trying to fly up to a roosting bar. They really don't have the body type for it. Pancake who is buff orpington like those two cuties in the chicken tower has issues jumping over two feet and she isn't even her full weight yet.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: