Chickens won't roost!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Spinksy, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. Spinksy

    Spinksy Just Hatched

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    My SLW and Australorpe are about 6 months old, my other girls are about 2 months older (just starting to lay). The young'uns won't roost! I've caught them recently sleeping in one of the nesting boxes (squished in together). Is this normal? They were introduced to the flock late and were a fair bit smaller, they were pecked and chased a little by the big girls. They all get along pretty well now, but the 'little ones' tend to stay pretty close to each other.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I practically always have younger chickens in the flock and see this behavior all the time. There is nothing unusual here. The younger pullets are afraid of the older ones, usually for good reason. The older ones automatically rank higher in the pecking order than the less mature until the younger ones mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. With mine that is normally about the time they start to lay, usually a week or two after they start. With mine it has nothing to do with size, it’s all about maturity.

    Until the younger ones mature enough to force their way into the pecking order instead of being on the bottom, whenever they invade the personal space of a higher-ranking hen they are at risk of getting pecked. That’s why they avoid the older hens during the day and sort of form their own sub-flock, they don’t like getting pecked. On the roosts, unless you have a lot of roost space, they can’t help invading personal space. It’s not about inches of roost space per bird, it’s about them getting far enough away that they don’t get pecked.

    Until they stop getting beat up, they are highly likely to look for a safer place to sleep. Since they usually like to sleep as high as they can, that is often the nests. I solved that by putting in a juvenile roost, lower than the main roosts but higher than the nests. It’s also separated horizontally a few feet. I’ll show you mine. I use the top of the nests as a droppings board. The main roosts are off to the right.

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    Since your pullets are used to sleeping in the nests you may have to physically move them to the juvenile roost after dark to break them of that habit if you try this. Make the coop as dark as you can so they can’t see to go back to the nests.

    Another approach would be to block the nests after the others have laid to force them to sleep somewhere else. But you’ll need to open the nests back up the next morning early so the hens can lay. When you see them sleeping on the main roosts (or juvenile roost if you install one), you can stop blocking the nests.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What he said^^^
     

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