Roost training?


Apr 7, 2019
Hi! We currently have two broodies with chicks. One has fourteen chicks and one has three. The one with three has 3.5-week-old chicks. The one with fourteen has 6 week old chicks.
The broody with three chicks has a co-mom who wasn't actually ever broody but helps her raise them. For a few nights, she has been trying to bring them up to roost but one has stuck with the co-mom in the nest box and the other two have eventually come down too. Then she relents and joins them for the night.
The one with fourteen hasn't tried bringing her (6 wk old) chicks up onto the roost, but some go up there anyway. The nights are getting chillier so I'm a little worried about chicks being so far away from their mothers. Should we try putting her on the roost with all of her chicks, and putting the other broody on too? Or should we just let them be?
It sounds as if the broody hens have it covered. They usually do.

The one with the huge brood may be feeling overwhelmed and possibly a bit lazy. You could close off the nest she favors at night, and this might encourage her to go back to roosting. This is what I do when my chicks reach five weeks.

Without their favorite nest to crawl into, they usually decide to roost. It's never seemed to impose any evident hardship on hen or chicks. Chicks are very eager to follow the lead of their broody hen.

If the broody hens decide to drop the ball and fail to teach their chicks to roost, you can place the chicks on the roosts close together on each side of the broody. I've found that any chicks that panic when placed on the perch will calm down when placed next to the broody or in between two more confident chicks.

The education period is very short for this lesson. Chicks learn in under three nights to roost.
My broody hens in the barn are encouraged to roost in little rabbit cages that can be placed on the floor. After everyone on roost, cages are closed and raised to a more protected location. Door is opened early the following morning to allow out when cages are replaced on ground. Once chicks are about 10 days old I start raising the cages up off floor so chicks and hens have to jump or fly up a little. Once they go in easy at roosting time I start raising the cages up to eventually be about 4 feet above ground which usually by time chicks are a month old.

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