I know that chickens and most birds for that matter like to roost to sleep. I had made the girls a low roosting bar in their brooder to “practice” on, but, I truly learned the importance and instinct they have to roost when they moved out to the coop and run. I came out side one afternoon and saw this:
They were jockeying for the highest spot on the ladder to the coop to take an afternoon nap. Hmmm…. it may be time to install a roost bar. I placed a board low in the run near the ladder to see if they would use it. They did! It was so cute to come outside and see them side by side resting in the sun.
Stretch was the last to join the line up. She kept trying to budge onto the bar until finally Oreo jumped off and she took that spot only to have Oreo squeeze back in. I like how Sammy is standing up in the last picture. It is like she is surveying the yard, making sure all is safe before she falls asleep. I made Pete come and watch them roost and he agreed that it was time for a higher roost in the coop. I originally wanted a ladder type design with a board underneath to catch their nightly poop (a “poop board”) to make cleaning out the poop easier and the coop cleaner. It also would be nice for my chickens to decide what level they want to sleep at. The heavier chickens can jump up to the top instead of fly up. They can also then jump down the rungs – avoiding potential injury to their feet. Here is a design used by one of my favorite sites, Hencam.com
This is a ladder style roost but does not have a poop board that I described. Unfortunately, this would not work since I wanted the window facing the run that now created a problem for mounting the rungs and it would also take up a lot of space in my coop. We placed a board about 20 inches high and almost 6 feet long – the length of the coop. Here is what my roosting bar inside the coop looks like:
The piece of wood closest to the door is just a brace. The chickens cannot roost on it because there is not enough room for them to stand. You can also see my “training” roost bar in front of the window. When the roosting bar is in place, we do not use the heat lamp unless we want fried chicken. I was watching one night to see if they would jump up there and I did not see them do it. The next morning, there was a piece of poop up there so I know at least one used it. I know from watching them that my chickens are very “monkey see, monkey do” so I know it is only a matter of time before I peek in the window to see all 6 snuggled together sleeping for the night, safe and warm in their coop.