Sleeping in the Nesting Boxes!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kirstie, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. kirstie

    kirstie In the Brooder

    Sep 11, 2012
    Ok, so I have 14 chickens 1 roo and 13 hens, 2 of them are about a year old and laying, and roosting normally, and the other 12 are only 12-16 weeks old. The 12 younger ones are ALL sleeping in 3 of their nest boxes. Their coop is an A frame and we have it set up so their boxes line the floor along each side then their roosts are in the middle area. They just all pile ontop of each other and sleep they havnt showed any interest in the roost. I try to push them out of the boxes and they just all pile back in. What Im wondering is should I stop the behavior now or will they grow out of it? Or does it even matter?

  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I would block off the nesting boxes at night so it is not an option. Once they start sleeping on the roost regularly then you can stop blocking them and they should stick to the roosts. Make sure that the roosts aren't too high for them and that there is enough room.
  3. ourfunnyfarm

    ourfunnyfarm Hatching

    Mar 10, 2012
    so what is too high for a roost?

    And as I was going to post a similar question, I thought I'd tag along on this one.... along the same concept, block off off if they are pooping in them as well... we just added our nesting boxes, the birds are 17 weeks, and some are using the new roosts, but most are roosting on the lip of their nesting boxes and pooping in them...
    so should the nesting boxes be open during the day (or not even yet) and blocked off at night? And if not yet, when should we open them??

    Thanks in advance for any offerings of advice:)
  4. brownfoxfarm

    brownfoxfarm In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2012
    Rural NW Illinois
    I have repeatedly read that keeping roosts around 18" high will help prevent bumblefoot.

  5. Time-Out

    Time-Out Songster

    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    I'd imagine this depends on what they're landing on. Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection.

    When it's dark, go out and remove all the growers from the nest boxes and pop them on the perches. They should get the message after a while. Some of mine got the hint after three nights, others took weeks. Blocking off the nestboxes wasn't an option for us as we only see the birds in the evening.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It is really normal for chicks to sleep on the floor until they are ready to roost. I’ve had some brooder raised chicks start roosting at 5 weeks. I’ve had some not start roosting until after 12 weeks. Some people on this forum have posted that theirs took 18 weeks or more. They will start roosting when they are ready. So I would not get all that excited about them not roosting yet.

    But there is something else that could be going on. I’ve had it happen a lot with both broody raised chicks and brooder raised chicks. Older chickens, practically always hens, can be really brutal to younger chickens on the roosts. This does not happen all the time, but it’s usually a hen fairly low in the adult pecking order that will leave her normal roosting place so she can brutalize younger chickens. It’s her way of maintaining her place in the pecking order a little longer. The younger chickens will sometimes leave the roosts to find a safer roosting place.

    When the chicks mature enough to establish their place in the pecking order, they move back to the roosts. This can vary with individual chickens, but this is usually somewhere around 20 to 22 weeks old. I’ve seen it with chicks as young as 15 weeks, but I’ve also seen some much, much older. They don’t all mature at the same rate.

    These “safer” places might be on top of the nesting boxes, in the nesting boxes, or maybe all the way back on the floor. I had one group that actually started roosting outside the coop. It’s usually the highest place they can find that is away from the older hens. I put up an additional roost a little lower than my main roosts and a bit away from then for this reason. It keeps them out of the nesting boxes.

    I’ve also had chicks sleep in the nesting boxes as they transition to sleeping on the roosts. Usually when they leave the floor they go straight to the roosts, but I have had some that slept in the nesting boxes or on the nesting boxes during that transition. That phase usually just lasts a few days, but I have had it last longer. When I lock them up at night, I move any that are in the nesting boxes to the lower roosts I have special for them. Most of them get the message pretty fast, but some take longer.

    I don’t know what is going on with yours, nor do I know what your coop or roosts look like. If you can, I’d suggest giving them enough roost space so they can get away from the older hens, then place them on the roosts after dark and using as little light *** you can. Once a couple of them get the idea and start sleeping on the roosts, the rest usually follow pretty quickly.

    You’ll get different opinions on what is too high for a roost. For many reasons, I suggest keeping the roost as low as practical. That means the roost needs to be noticeably higher than anything you don’t want them roosting on. Depending on your coop and layout, this could be 6” to a foot. But don’t build it any higher than you have to so you can achieve this noticeably higher. We all have different coops and different layouts. Our nests are at different heights. There is no one specific height that covers all of us. Just make them as low as you reasonably can.

    I don’t know of any specific height that is too high. It depends some on your chickens and some on your coop. Some full sized fowl chickens will sleep fifteen to twenty feet up in a barn with no problems, but the smaller and tighter the coop, the lower it needs to be.

    Hope this helps some. Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  7. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    You always want to your roosts to be higher than the lip of your nesting boxes. Higher than the top of the nesting boxes is even better but it depends on the breed. I have some silkies for instance, and they can not get up on high roosts so I just made a small roost that is only a few inches off the ground (my boxes are flat on the ground). My other hens have a higher roost.

    If your roost is the same height as your nests birds tend to pick the nests and want to sleep on top of or in them and its messy.

    If it were me, I would block off the boxes around bed time and watch them all go to roost. See if the little ones are getting picked on or if they seem unable to roost. They may just need a separate smaller roost while they are young to feel safe. Or, they might just like the nesting boxes and have a bad habit that will be fixed when the option is gone.

    They may sleep on the ground at first but as long as your coop is predator safe I wouldn't worry about that.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012

  8. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Songster

    Jul 16, 2007
    Long Island NY

    This is my opinion also. Usually when I put the young chickens in the main coop they will get bullied off of the roosts for the first little while.
  9. Sean The IT Guy

    Sean The IT Guy In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2012
    I've got 8 birds, 4 white and 4 brown commercial layers (leghorn based whites and red sex linked browns). The whites all sleep on the perches without fail, and the browns would all sleep in the nest boxes. I started shooing the browns from the nest boxes every evening when I'd go out to pull up the retractable ramp to the coop to keep critters out. Now the browns all sleep on the floor of the coop, even at 20 weeks of age, with the exception of one stubborn girl who always slept in the same nest box, fouling it with poo like there was no tomorrow.

    A few nights ago when i shooed her onto the floor with the other browns, I put a soccer ball that was kicking around the yard in her nest box so there wasn't room for her. When I checked the next morning, she hadn't moved to one of the other nest boxes, as there was no poo in any of them. Seems like blocking off the nest box she was attached to was enough to break her of the habit. We'll see if she goes back once I take the soccer ball away.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by