do chickens have to be taught to roost?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JeanM, May 7, 2017.

  1. JeanM

    JeanM Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 29, 2013
    Hi,

    I started anew this year with five chicks that I got in early April. So, the girls are now about 13 weeks old. I keep them in an old shed, with a room I close them in at night that has two sets of roosts as well as nesting boxes. I'm getting a bit concerned that they still haven't shown any desire to sleep on their roosts, instead huddling together on the floor.

    Is this an instinctive behavior that will develop on its own, or did they need older chickens around to show them it?
     
  2. 0wen

    0wen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They should figure it out. How high are the roosts?
     
  3. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How high are the roosts? They may need a ladder. I have a small raised coop and the lower roost is 12 inches high. The upper roost is 18 inches high and they can jump onto it from the lower roost.[​IMG] I put my girls in the coop at 40 days old. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was about a week before they roost on their own after putting them on the roost after sunset. GC
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
  4. JeanM

    JeanM Out Of The Brooder

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    I've wondered about the height and whether they need an intermediate step ... although given the way they charge around when I first let them out in the morning, I am sure they are physically capable of getting on the roosts! anyhow, the roosts are about a yard off the floor.
    I'll look around and see what I have that I could put in there to help them figure it out.

    thanks for the reassurance that they'll catch on on their own, eventually.
     
  5. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No,not all just figure it out.Sometimes you will have to sit them on it,and eventually,they will get the hang of it.
     
  6. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What are your roosts made of? And what dimensions? Maybe it's too skinny. I have found that branches, 3" or 4" in diameter, with bark on, are favorites. The lower pecking order hens are relegated to a 2"X4" piece of lumber.
    Even my baby chicks loved roosting on little branches in their brooder.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Normally, the mother gets them to roost up before they are weaned. After weaning mine will sometimes gravitate towards the rooster assuming other hens or older juveniles do not drive them off. With hen sometimes roosting up can occur as early as 2 weeks when weather very warm but generally is realized by 4 weeks. For a variety of reasons I like the youngsters to roost up.


    A trick that has worked for me is to place a few of the young birds in a small cage in location you want the group to use about an our before roosting time. Ideally the penned birds are the dominant birds. The balance of the birds will likely spend some time trying to get up with brood mates because they can hear them. It is that process that gets them into the same mindset the following night. Then release all to sleep in roost over night. It appears to me the birds need to fly up on their own as part fo the learning process.
     
  8. JeanM

    JeanM Out Of The Brooder

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    they have two. The one my original girls preferred was a flat piece of wood, about 3" wide; the other is a broom handle-sized dowel.
     
  9. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The broom handle size is probably too skinny. But the 3" should be fine.
     
  10. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A mother will teach a chick very fast to roost. My only naturally born chick was flying up to the roost at a very early age to a height about 10x her own height.

    All of my others I bought as several day-old chicks. It took them a lot longer to figure it out, all at varying rates; some preferred the floor while others roosted.
     

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