Roosting Pole

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LittleGirlBlue, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. LittleGirlBlue

    LittleGirlBlue In the Brooder

    Apr 19, 2015
    My chicks are around 12 weeks old and are still cuddling together on the ground. When should they be going to the roost at night? Do I need to help this transition?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There is nothing that says they have to roost. Some never do, some Silkies for example. Silkies can’t fly so they can have problems getting up and down. As long as they are in a predator proof area they are fine sleeping on the ground or floor. Most predators can climb or jump so even them being on the roost isn’t that much help with predators. I know yours are not Silkies but they don’t have to roost.

    My brooder raised chickens normally start roosting at 10 to 12 weeks, yours are pretty average so far. I have had some start roosting at 5 weeks and I’ve had some take a lot longer than 12 weeks, but 10 to 12 weeks is a pretty good average. Yours are not weird, don’t worry about that. I have had a broody hen take her chicks to the roost at 2 weeks, so they are capable earlier, it’s just that brooder raised chicks usually take a lot longer without a broody hen to teach them.

    I don’t know what your roosts look like or what your coop insides look like. Some people will assure you that you absolutely have to use something round like a tree limb, others insist that you have to lay a 2x4 flat, and some have other opinions. I’ve experimented with tree limbs, 2x4’s flat, and 2x4’s on edge. My conclusion is that the chickens really don’t care but some people sure do.

    I do think what you use should be wood, there can be problems with plastic or metal, and they should be strong enough to not bend from their weight, at least not much. They also need enough clear space to spread their wings and fly up or down without banging into nests, walls, feeders or waterers. In tight spaces many will use ramps instead of flying, but mine seem to prefer to fly. When those 2 week old chicks were going to the roost, they had absolutely no trouble flying 2 feet vertical and 3 feet horizontal. I saw some do it and it was obvious they could have gone a lot further if they wanted to. Your 12 week olds should have no trouble flying up to your roosts if they want to.

    There is a reason they need to be roosting before they start to lay though. Sometimes instead of using the roosts some want to sleep in the nests. There can be several reasons for this. They normally like to sleep in the highest place available so your roosts need to be noticeably higher than the nests. That’s basic. Sometimes they can be pretty brutal to each other on the roosts. Where they sleep is determined by pecking order. The ones that rank highest sleep where they want and might be pretty vicious in enforcing that privilege. If the weaker ones can’t get far enough away from the brutal ones on the roosts they may look for a safer place to lay. That might be your nests. If I’m going to have chickens sleeping in the nests I want to know about it so I can fix the problem before I get poopy eggs.

    So while there is no health reason for them to roost, you might want to start moving a few of them to the roosts after it’s too dark for them to see to fly down. Once one starts roosting the rest usually soon follow unless they are getting beat up on the roosts.

    Good luck!
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    Agreed, they'll get there eventually. My chicks have a roost in their brooder, which they use throughout the day, but they still make a cuddle puddle at night :)

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