1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Is it too late to teach my hens to roost at night?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by nirnear, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. nirnear

    nirnear New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Jan 11, 2016
    Hello. I started a new flock last spring and my ladies are happy and adorable. My only issue is that they sleep in the nesting boxes and never use the roost installed in the shelter portion of my coop. This is my second flock and the previous flock (living the rest of their lives happily in a nearby farm) used the roost immediately when introduced to the coop. Only thing is, I got the old flock as adult hens, so they were already roost-trained, if you will. So, now that my ladies are 9 months old I am not sure how to get them to start roosting at night. I also tried lowering the roost to make it more noticeable, but so far no takers.

    Is it too late? Should I block the nesting boxes to force them to find another place to sleep?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    How high are the nests from the floor?
    How high are the roosts above the nests?
    Definitely block the nests in the late afternoon.
    Place the birds on the roosts for a couple nights if they're not already up there.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

    8,950
    1,775
    391
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Chickens can be lazy. They also enjoy snuggling down into comfort when they sleep. But the nest boxes are not the proper place for any chicken to sleep unless she's incubating eggs. It's a very dirty habit to let them adopt.

    Block the nest boxes after all egg laying activity is finished for the day. That usually encourages the chickens to use the perches. It's instinctive. They should catch on pretty quickly.

    The only problems may be heavy breeds and high perches. They do not like the jolt in their legs they experience when they jump down, so I like to provide a few low perches for those individuals. Many of my other chickens also prefer low perches, too. So there are some of all heights in the coops and in the runs.

    If you have very high perches, and the chickens still don't want to use them, try a ramp so they can go up and down without jumping.
     
  4. nirnear

    nirnear New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Jan 11, 2016
    Thanks folks! I recently lowered the roost to be closer in height to the nesting box, about 2ft from the ground. I will try blocking the nesting boxes in the afternoon and encourage them to roost. Always happy to go watch the ladies after they go to sleep :). I will let you know how it goes in a couple weeks.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    30,500
    3,385
    516
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Roosts should be about a foot higher than nests, and easy to get up to and down from without crashing into a wall or something.

    Covering the nests before dusk, then uncovering after dark works well.
    I hinged a piece of plywood for the nest cover, so it's easy to do when I have new pullets.
     
  6. Wetsnail

    Wetsnail Out Of The Brooder

    My chickens are pooping in the nest boxes, and I think that is where they sleep. We have only had them for about two weeks (10 months old) and only have had 2 eggs (4 hamburgs). Should I try covering the nesting boxes? Should I do this in the evening and uncover in the morning? Thanks, Cork
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You can uncover them after dark. They won't move after on the roost.
    Leave them open during the bulk of the day so they don't develop a habit of laying elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  8. Wetsnail

    Wetsnail Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for the advice. Cork
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by