Is there any reason (like possible egg breakage) that laying hens should not roost high?


12 Years
Feb 21, 2011
I have POL pullets who like to sleep in the rafters. The area is secure and not at all drafty. My only hesitation in letting them continue is that I wonder if it's going to be a problem when they start laying. It's about 8 feet up and they tend to fly down from that height in the morning and land in the middle of the floor. The roosts we made for them are only 18 inches off the ground instead of 8 feet.

I wonder if they might injure themselves or break and egg inside. If that is the case, I would close off the rafters to prevent them going up. My tall husband has been fishing them off the rafters and placing them on the roosts every night for two weeks because they are at the point of lay and we became concerned. We lost a hen who had an egg break inside her after getting caught in some netting so I get nervous about it happening again.
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Yes there is a risk of a broken egg. Also bumblefoot if they are heavy breeds. I too have gone from high roosts to forced low roosts for my large fowl. My bantam coop has their roosts a little higher (maybe 4 feet up) but they have a "step" to get down.

Bumblefoot is a staph infection of the foot and has a "black scab" appearance on the underside of the foot.

You would really be doing them a favor by closing off the roosts.
Thanks for your reply. I have dealt with bumblefoot. It is not nice. I previously got rid of every and anything that my heavy birds could perch on that was too thin and sanded everything down. It got much better after that and soaks/surgery.

I will close off the rafters and make them sleep on the lower perches.
I have birds that have slept in rafters and in trees for years without problems. It's kinda what they're designed to do, roost high to avoid predators.
I have birds that have slept in rafters and in trees for years without problems. It's kinda what they're designed to do, roost high to avoid predators.

This is what confused me. So you've never had problems with layers roosting high? I guess I was thinking that the wild version of hens do not lay eggs every day and nest on the ground? It seems like a lot of people's chickens like to roost in trees or rafters. Interested in different opinions on this although I've locked them again in the hen house..
I think it depends on a lot of variables. Do you have large, heavy breeds or smaller? What is on the floor of the coop? How much space do they have to "fly"/glide down? If a person has heavy breeds in a smaller coop with hard flooring, you're just asking for bumblefoot.

Maybe you can build roosts of varying heights so they can stairstep up and down.
I have a large coop with deep bedding. Some of my birds are heavy breeds who have had bumblefoot but they can't get up there anyway. Silly for not even thinking about bumblefoot to begin with. The birds who sleep in the rafters are EEs. It started with the pullets and then the older laying birds got the idea. Closing it off for now for a "better safe than sorry" solution but for some reason letting them sleep up there if it wasn't harmful to them is an idea that really appealed to me. Was wondering how common it is. Up in the rafters they can look out the large hardware cloth covered vent/window into the forest and it probbaly feels to them like they are sleeping on a tree branch. They can see trees and lots of fresh air. Seems nice for them. :)
Birds in nature roost in trees. Even wild turkeys fly up into trees and roost at night. Hens only sleep on the ground if they're brooding young. Of course, in the wild they have lots of space and usually land on pretty cushioned ground---leaves, grass, pine needles, etc.
My birds have been standard dual purpose---rocks, orps and reds plus leghorns and ees. My current coop lets them hop on the old shelving (used to be a greenhouse) then the rafters, and they can do that on the way down but I don't think they do, just from rafters to ground. Lots of room in the coop, deep liter.

I guess my birds are just unusually healthy. I have over the years lost birds to unknown reasons---fine one day and just dead the next--but only maybe 5-6 in 15 or so years. Never had a hen with laying problems, never had bumblefoot.
I'm guessing my heavy birds couldn't get up on the rafters anyway, even with roosting bars of variable heights, which I do have. None of the birds seem to use them to go up and down. They just fly straight up and then down from that high...unless my husband is there. Then they use his head for their midway point. I think that's just some kind of chicken humor though.

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