roosting or just cuddleing together

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tav1, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. tav1

    tav1 Songster

    Nov 4, 2014
    I've only have my 3 hens since this Saturday and there doing great and received 4 eggs so far...[​IMG] it's been a little cold here at night, I've tried putting them on the roost at night time but they seems to want to cuddle up for warmth in the nest box . 2 out of the three are cuddling
    the other on has no room so she's outside the circle .....gonna get a bigger box so they all can get together. but
    is that pretty nomal or should they roost?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    They should not be sleeping in a nest box. They poop a lot and you don’t want poopy eggs. If you are not getting poopy eggs (maybe they are laying in a different nest or you are happy changing out bedding early every morning) then I don’t have a great reason for them to have to roost.

    Chickens normally like to sleep at the highest place they can get. That means your roost should be noticeably higher than the nests or anything else you don’t want them sleeping on or in. So my first thought is are the roosts higher than the nests? 12” is usually plenty of difference.

    The chickens need to be able to get to the roosts. Normally that is not a problem but do you have Silkies that can’t fly? They may need ramps or steps to get up there. Some Silkies are happy to sleep a lot lower than the roosts since they can’t fly. Also chickens spread their wings when they jump/fly up to the roosts. Do you have one of those tiny coops where they don’t have enough clear room to get up there or get down? Again a ramp or some kind of ladder may help, even if they are not Silkies.

    They also need sufficient room on the roosts. They don’t take up much room once they are settled in, but they need enough room to jump up there with wings spread. They also like to maneuver when up there so the ones higher in the pecking order can get the choice roosting spot. With three hens I’d probably want about four feet of roost length. That’s a lot more than they need once they are settled in but it gives them room to settle in.

    Where is that third hen sleeping? Is she on the roost? Something that can happen, you might get a bully on the roosts. One chicken may peck and be pretty brutal to others as they are settling in for the night. Sometimes chickens look for a safe place away from a bully and wind up in the nest. That’s another reason to have excess roost space, to give them enough room to get away from a bully.

    Some chickens may just be in the habit of sleeping on the nests instead of roosting. I have no idea what they were doing before you got them. If they are laying they are old enough to roost. If you want them to roost you have a few choices. Since they are laying in the nests you don’t want to teach them to lay somewhere else so you have to be careful about blocking off the nests. But that’s one option. You can block off the nests after they have finished laying for the day and before they roost to try to see if they will choose the roosts instead. But you need to be out there every morning before they lay to unblock the nests. Once they get in the habit of sleeping on the roosts you should not have to block the nests any longer.

    Another option is to continue doing what you are doing. After it is full dark and they have settled down to sleep, move them to the roosts. It needs to be dark enough so they can’t see their way back to the nests. Use as little light as you can but I would not worry too much about upsetting them taking them out of the nest. It would be good if they think the roosts are a safer place to sleep than the nest. Hopefully they will get in the habit of sleeping on the roosts in a few days. Some chickens will get it the first time. Some may take two weeks or so.

    Good luck! This kind of stuff is pretty common but you can manage it. Sometimes it is easier than others.

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