What Happens If Chickens Don't Roost?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WildCochinReba, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. WildCochinReba

    WildCochinReba Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have three, two cochins and one silkie. The two cochins are at that age when they are about to lay. I put a roost in their coop and they refuse to use it. They prefer to sleep on the ground. I was wondering what would happen if they don't roost. Thank you.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    As long as the coop is predator proof, they are fine.
     
  3. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Keep the area clean and predator proof and they should be fine.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    They are apt to sleep in their own feces and be in closer contact with bedding harboring parasites.
     
  5. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had some chickens do this, too. They were young and the place I got them from didn't have a roost for them to go on. So, when they went to sleep for the night, I picked them up and gently put them into the house on their roost.

    After that, they "got" it, and went into their house on the roost every night.
     
  6. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks New Egg

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    How long did it take for your birds to "get it"? I have a group of pullets that are about 13 weeks old, and I have been carrying them into their roost every night for about 3 weeks now. They are choosing to roost on my kids' picnic table instead of their nice coop.

    I'll keep carrying them in every night if eventually they will figure it out, but if not, I guess I'll need a new strategy.
     
  7. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmm. I only had to do it a couple of times. I have to wonder if there is something in their coop that is spooking them. A smell, maybe? Is it too tall for them to get into?

    My chickens are closed in, so they have two choices: the coop or the ground under and near the coop. Can you close them in with the coop at night?
     
  8. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks New Egg

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    I might have to try lowering their roost and see if that helps. It's about 3 feet up right now, but they are almost that high on the kids' picnic table, so who knows.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Roosting is preferable to sleeping in the bedding on the floor for lots of reasons. I have a couple of hens who insist on sleeping on the floor, and I've given up trying to get them to roost. After months of attempts, you just need to move on.

    The consequence is they sleep in their poop, and their backsides are disgusting. They get hosed down occasionally.

    I have four three-month old pullets who are very resistant to learning to roost. I've been placing them on the perch each night for six weeks. They just may be getting it. Who knows?

    Chickens produce a mountain of poop every night. I clean the coops each morning, and I would much rather scrape and wash the poop boards than fish poop out of the bedding. And I believe it's just healthier for the chickens that they sleep above their poop and not in it. But not all of them are willing to cooperate. Sometimes surrender is the better part of valor, as the old adage goes.
     
    Outdoorlover likes this.
  10. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    The instinct to roost is present at a young age. Provide a perch from day one and you'll have no trouble getting them to roost as older chicks. Give them a variety of things to climb on to help them learn how to use their body.

    Remember, the instinct to hide under mother is very strong. So the desire to stay low and hidden is also present at a young age. If you ever watch a hen with her chicks you will see a proactive mother in action. Mother Hen is mindful of her chicks and is always watching for predators. She's showing them what to eat, how to find it and how to get under her real fast. She leads them across the yard, through the woods, and to Grandma's house (just kidding about that last part). When her chicks get tired, Mother Hen will lay down to allow her chicks to rest under her tail or wings, on her back. Basically the chicks will clamor about and learn about all kinds of things from Mother Hen. Pretty soon, Mother Hen will go to roost and her chicks will follow. She doesn't baby them. They either roost or don't roost and risk being a meal for a predator.

    Everything works great for the chicken in a natural environment. Then us humans come along and in typical fashion decide what is perfect for chickens. We get these coops that we think are the best thing since sliced bread but the chickens, who have been raised in a sterile (lacking character) brooder/grow-out pens, are like, what the freaking is happening? What is this place? What do we do? And since they can't fly that well, they all huddle in a corner. This is great, they think, now nobody can see us. We are now safe. Then out of nowhere the human arrives to yank them off the ground and place them on sticks in the air. Dear God, says the human, how stupid can they be? Ahhhhh, says the chicken, what the freaking just happened? Why are we in the air? What is touching my feet? Ah! I don't know what this is. I'm outta here!

    Anybody ever look at chicken's feet? I mean really look at them? Ever notice how their toes do not curl and actually grip a perch? Unlike a parrot who can put a death grip on their favorite perch (or the soft flesh of your forearm) and never let go, a chicken must balance their body-lock those toes in the best position. You don't ever see a chicken swinging upside down from its perch and clucking with glee. Nope. Remember a roosting chicken is effortlessly balancing on a stick while sleeping. Really incredible when you actually think about the mechanics of the chicken's foot. I want to see you go squat on a balance beam and go to sleep. It's cheating if you use your hands.

    I've noticed people with Silkies complain about problems with roosting. People, the well-bred Silkie has FIVE toes. The not-so-well-bred may have even more toes hanging about just waiting to snag on anything. Go put on a pair of flip-flops backward and try to roost on that balance beam. Not to mention Silkies got all that hair going on all around them which creates all kinds of challenges. Stuff a hat over you eyes and see how long you can squat on that balance beam.

    Now with this in mind, go evaluate your coop. Be mindful of the breed of chickens you have. Game fowl will insist the roosts be high as possible while the heavier breeds will appreciate a little thoughtfulness on their special needs. The bantams will appreciate the privacy of a rafter roost, while the hefty Jersey Giant may appreciate a ramp with an easy slope and good traction to get up to a nice wide 2 x 4 roost. The old-timers will need special accommodations to help them stay on a roost. The youngsters who have never seen a roost in their life may appreciate a little bit (sometimes a lot) of time to get adjusted to their new surroundings. Sometimes putting a small toy chicken on the roost may help youngsters to get the courage to go in for the night. A well-secured mirror can also convince the nervous newbies that another chicken is already there so things must be okay.

    Don't forget chickens like lots of air circulating in their homes. They like clean coops and clean roosts. They like to look out windows.

    Remember, us humans with our big brains have not bred a smart chicken. Which is probably a good thing because a smart chicken will ask for wages. So let's be a bit more patient with our breakfast-makers. Learn to think like a chicken. Be mindful of what they are. After all, we are the ones with the big brains. It's time we learn how to use them.
     
    Mrs. Light Sussex and azygous like this.

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