Like us people, chickens need a safe place to sleep at night. But unlike us, or other animals, they seek out a roost as their preferred place to sleep at night. So in addition to building your chicken coop – making a nice roost is also part of the process – but a very FUN part of it!
What’s great about chicken roosts is there are dozens of options and variations that can be used! Most commonly used are tree branches, 2 x 2 board, 2×4 board, and more. Other ideas can be wooden fence posts, scrap lumber from your shed, and more.
The best roost is one that is round or slightly rounded vs a square shape as it allows them to better grab onto it. Pictured below are a few of the more common, easily accessible roost ideas that most chicken farmers use.
For my own coop, I used a 2 x 4 and rounded off the top two edges with a circular saw, and these are working like a champ. The rounding off step is not necessary, but I’ve found that they are able to grip onto the roost better when it’s slightly rounded. A view of my roost and walkway leading to the roost is pictured below.
I made sure to place the roosts where the droppings are not in my way when I enter the coop so I don’t have to clean it off my shoes after being inside. Depending on the type of coop you build, you may also want to consider positioning the roosts where you can easily clean up the droppings.
Where To Buy Roosts
If you don’t want to mess with the hassle of making a roost, you can buy one at your local farm store or online. Buying a roost may cost a bit more than making it yourself, but it also saves a lot of time…something to consider in our busy lives!
How Long Should The Roost Be?
To estimate the length of roost needed, figure that each chicken needs roughly 8-12 inches of roost space. The more space the better. But from what I’ve observed, even if you provided a 100 feet of roost space, they’ll likely just huddle up next to each other anyway ? Go figure!
Maybe it’s because the coop can get a bit chilly at night, or maybe they feel safer that way…I just found it curious.
Chickens seem to like roosting higher in the coop at night, so I positioned mine about 4 feet off the ground. I then constructed a ladder (or walkway) leading up to the roost. Since we clipped their wings (more on this in a bit), they are reliant on walking instead of flying, although they can still fly a short distance.
So I thought it might be more convenient for my flock to build a ramp that will allow them to climb to the roost. The ladder design is very simple – basically an 7 inch wide board (or wider) which angles up from the floor to the roost with some make shift “steps” nailed on and spaced every 5″ or so – just something they can use to “grip” onto as they walk up. Also pictured is a cool idea of simply using roofing shingles – very clever, and perhaps less work to put together! (See image below)
Back to wing clipping, just briefly – we clipped the outer part of the wings – on one side only. Don’t worry – this does not involve pain for the chickens in any way, and it prevents them from taking flight. The wings are clipped toward the outer part of the wing where there is no blood supply. We didn’t clip their wings at first because we thought it would hurt them.
But they kept flying over the fence, however, and and we lost one to a neighborhood dog. Thus, the wing clipping, and consequent ramp from the floor to the roost inside the coop. There is a great illustration on wing clipping on the Backyard Chickens website link below.
What NOT To Use As A Roost
Most of the most common roosts are listed above and are made of wood, which seems to be the best type of material. It’s hard enough to hold the weight of the birds, and also allows something for the chickens to hold onto.
There are many other similar looking materials that seem similar to wood, like 3 inch PVC piping or round steel posts. But these materials are not the best.
Plastic Piping is too slippery for the chickens to get a good grip on. Plus, the piping is rather flexible and can more easily bend in the middle of the span if the pipe is long.
Steel is not the best material either as it is very cold in the winter and, if you live in a cold climate, can potentially cause frost bite in their feet.
As you can see – it’s pretty darn simple to buy, build, or find a chicken roost. They can be built with a lot of materials you have all around you! You could cut off a branch from a tree in your yard…or check for a stray 2 x 4 in your garage. Making a chicken roost is one of the most simple yet satisfying tasks when building your coop!
For more on building, buying, or designing your coop check out this article.
Leave a comment below on roosts that have worked for you or that you’re planning to use for your coop – thanks for stopping by!