When do they roost?


10 Years
Jun 3, 2013
North Alabama
So, my baby is 4 weeks old and sitting next to mom on the roost every night. The other chicks, at 8 weeks, are still sleeping on the floor. Funny, they're up on every high thing during the day but not at night. Also funny, but mom sets a bedtime--she and baby head in at 7:30 every night, even though it's not dark here until around 8.
Can you clarify the status of these eight-week olds? Were they brooded by you? Did the broody hatch the four-week old?

I'll tell you how I handle chicks and roosting. When I move my chicks into their coop after being weaned off heat at five weeks, I put them onto the roost immediately. They don't usually stay up there the first night, but I do put them through the motions. I put an old cat bed on the floor for them to sleep in if they choose. Night two, I place them on the roost again. This time they are more likely to remain, at least most of the night. The cat bed is there if they want to sleep on the floor.

By night three, the chicks are staying on the roost all night, and I remove the cat bed. This cements into their brains that the roost is now where they sleep, not the bed on the floor, since it no longer is there. Depending on the chicks, they are usually going into the coop on their own around six weeks and hopping onto the perch all on their own.

The difference between broody raised chicks and hand raised chicks is the latter need to be taught by you, while the broody teaches those she raises.
The way I handle roosting is to let them decide when they want to. Many people on this forum want to teach their chicks to roost quite early, nothing wrong with that. Many broody hens teach their chicks to roost pretty early. I just don't feel the need.

For my brooder raised chicks with no adults around most broods start to roost around 10 to 12 weeks of age. I don't teach them, I let them decide. I've had some start as early as 5 weeks, some go longer than 12, but 10 to 12 is fairly typical. How that coop and the roosts are built could have an effect on when they start, some of it is just their personalities. Yes, they do play on them during the day so they can get up there, but they just don't want to sleep up there at night.

If my brooder raised chicks are in the main coop with the adults, the pullets typically do not sleep on the main roosts with the adults until they are mature enough to join the pecking order, usually about the time they start to lay. It's not so much that they force their way into the pecking order, more that the adult hens seem to accept them as adults once they start to lay. There is usually very little violence. With cockerels, who knows when they start to sleep on the main roosts with the adults. It could be early or late.

I let my broody hens decide when they take their chicks to the roost. Until they take them to the roosts they sleep on the coop floor. I've had a hen take her chicks to the roost at two weeks, I've had some not take their chicks to the roost at all before they weaned them. Most of my broody hens tend to take their chicks to the roosts around 4 to 5 weeks of age.
The mama was sitting on non-fertile eggs and I tucked this baby under her one night and that was that. The older chicks I had brooded in a separate pen until, one night, something got in and killed 3. Not able to find out how it got in, I just dumped these chicks into the pen with the older birds. During the day, just put them in the coop with food and water, door wide open. They all went in and out all day, all went in to sleep that night and they've been doing fine ever since. It's like 2 separate flocks, the older girls with one baby and then 6 younger ones (2 cockerels). I'm just assuming age with all of them--the 8 weekers were several days old when I got them per the clerk at TSC, the baby was a bit older when I got her, probably a week. But my age for them is per the day I got them, so not accurate. In the past, I've not worried about roosting. At one time the babies piled up outside under the coop when mama went in and were just fine even though it was chilly out. They're much sturdier than we think.

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