Reasoning behind stair stepping the roost?


In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 6, 2014
I am new to constructing my hen house. On my chicken tractor I had one rail for them to roost on. As I look at other hen houses I see most of them have multiple roosts. I will only have a dozen birds so I am not for sure what the true protocol is. I want to make sure I do it the right way. Thank you for stopping by. Any help is appreciated!
I would think your house layout dictates a bit. Mine is stepped because it was easier to build and a window prevents me doing two the same height. One had to be lower.

I also have a silkie in my flock and despite there being room on the top rung she always settles on the lower one, so I suspect doesn't like getting so high.

Think there is only right or wrong based on your particular coop and particular flock.
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It depends on how much room is in your coop. You need 1 foot of roost space per bird. Some people make the roosts all the same height, some like to stagger them. I've had mine both ways, and like them both.

My first 2 roost were 10 ft long. One behind the other, and they were on top of my in coop brooder. They worked fine. These were about 4 ft off the ground. I had a ladder for them to get up on the roosts.

I made some changes in my coop (made 2 out of one large one) and made a ladder style roost. These roosts are 5 ft wide. I have 8 hens in this coop and they all squeeze onto the top roost.

Ladder roosts don't work for me because they take up too much floor space in my smallish coop.
I use single level roosts with boards underneath to collect night poops.
You need about 1 foot of roost length per bird.....yes, they will sleep on less length, but need the extra room to get settled.
Mine is 8' long and 3' from the wall with a single level. Of course after building this, the girls don't roost on the 2x4, the roost on the lip by the ladder. So I added another board there (2nd picture) to give them a little more for their feet.

I have two 4' roosts at the same level, and it works well. Everyone likes sleeping as high as they can, and since there isn't a spot higher then the roosts, nobody fights for that spot. The roosts are about five? feet off the ground, but have a poop board two feet under them, so they have an easy step up. And instead of using the step up to the poop board I specially built them, everybody jumps on the feeder.
With the poop board and a cat litter scoop, the coop stays pretty clean. I clean the poop board every day or every other day.
Both a single height and multiple height roost will work...

Multiple height roost allow for natural pecking order to take place, the dominate birds will generally roost on the higher roost, they also generally allow the birds to 'hop' vs 'fly' to a roosting location (or hop up to a higher location) this is important for some heavy breeds that don't have the ability to fly well enough to get to a higher roost... The reason they are generally 'laddered' at an angle is so that the upper birds don't poop on the lower birds all night, and it allows the hoppers to climb to a higher roost easier... Also ladder roost generally allow you to put more linear feet of roost into an similar sized area, of course coop design will play a large part in your ability to install either type of roost...

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