Every chicken owner knows how much space do chickens need to roost. This comes about as a result of many years of experience in keeping chickens. But one thing you need to realize is that each breed has its own needs when it comes to roosting and that is exactly what we’re going to discuss at length.
So, how much space do chickens need to roost? Space for chickens to roost depends largely on the number of chickens under your care and their sizes.
However, there are several factors to consider when positioning your roost and how much space each chicken requires. Placing the roost near the wall will make it dirty. This can happen when chickens get some manure on the wall and this is not a good idea. But you can start by placing the first roost parallel to the walls and almost 18 inches from it. Doing so will help keep the walls clean throughout.
Why Should You Provide Your Chickens with Enough Space to Roost?
Contrary to popular belief, all chickens don’t just crowd themselves together to get some warmth in their nesting boxes. Instead, they prefer perching high on their roosts most of the time. This interesting phenomenon is attributed to the evolutionary traits that these clever birds have adapted to survive and not get caught in the claws of ferocious predators.
To stay safe from potential threats, chickens must roost higher and nest lower. This sounds like an ultimate rule for their survival and it seems to work nevertheless.
Many chicken owners are faced with questions about having roosts (perches) in their chicken coops. Questions such as where they should be, how many are needed and their necessity, pop up from time to time. Well, you need a roost to provide your birds with the basic requirement of their living space.
Naturally, chickens learn to perch and this behavior must be passed down to every generation right from their wild ancestors (wild birds) which most probably spend much of their time on trees.
Therefore, providing them with a well-structured roost can make them feel comfortable and safe while sleeping as a critical part of their lifestyle. Apart from providing them with a proper platform to rest, roosts can also assist young chickens to hone their flying skills across the day. If you have a small number of chickens, just one roost is enough for them.
Actually, each chicken requires between 8 to 10 inches of space when perching. Most of the time, you will find chickens perching together for warmth or protection especially in colder months.
If you have a large number of chickens, then you will require more roosts as much as you would provide them with an extra restroom.
For newcomers in the business of keeping chickens, things may look and sound strange. And one of those is where to position the roost. Luckily most of the chicken coops come fully equipped with one or a few roosts already built inside them. Check to ensure that the spacing is appropriate with the number and size of your flock. In addition, look at the materials used in its construction for the safety of your chickens.
As you know, the main reason for placing this structure in your chicken coop is to provide your flock of birds with an ideal spot to roost.
A general rule of thumb suggests that your roost shouldn’t be placed above anything you don’t want to get soiled (from the chicken’s droppings). In other words, you must not place them over the feeders or nesting boxes.
If forced by circumstances to place the roosts above the nesting boxes or feeders, then you must place dropping boards right below your chickens’ roost. The board will collect droppings while protecting nest boxes or any other structure that shouldn’t be soiled.
What do You Consider when Providing Space for Your Chickens to Roost?
When it comes to an individual breed, there are some considerations to take into account. For instance, the dual-purpose breeds will require at least 12 inches of space ( in width and along the roost) for each chicken. Keep in mind that the larger number of birds you have the better use of available space.
Also, don’t place the roost too close to the ceiling. This is because chickens need some extra space to fly up or flap their wings when getting in or out of the roost. So, little space will prevent them from free movement thus making them uncomfortable.
Naturally chickens, just like other birds, need enough space to move around. Especially when they are looking for their respective positions to settle for the night. At the same time, enough space will mean that there is enough air circulation within their coop and this is one of the basic requirements for their well-being.
But when you confine them in small spaces with lower ceilings, your chickens might not be able to fly up and settle comfortably in their roosts. In this regard, you need to be on the watch out every time you are preparing your chickens to roost.
There are two ways you can layout the roosts and these are horizontally and stair-step arrangement. For the horizontal layout, you need enough space inside the coop. Once you have taken the measurements for the available space, you may layout the roots horizontally.
In this regard, the spacing should be about 12 inches for each chicken ( here, space is based on the wider part of each roost) and 18 inches between roost bars. This space will be adequate for one chicken, but it all depends on the breed.
In case you have a chicken coop with limited space, then you can resort to staggering the roots in what is known as “the stair-step arrangement”. Here, you are advised to place the roosts at 12 inches from each other and in a horizontal manner. Also, you may arrange then 12 to 15 inches apart but vertically while making better use of the available space.
Should you discover that the roots are close to each other in the stair-step arrangement. Then you should find a way of arranging them properly.
You can avoid such a scenario, especially when you are handling large breeds, by keeping their roosts spaced at 12 inches horizontally from each other and at 12 to 15 inches vertically in a bid to create more headroom.
In the actual sense, this is just a simple task that is likely to reduce stress while improving hygiene among your chickens. After all, every chicken keeper dreams of a strong, healthy flock.
Another point to consider is placing the roosts higher than the nest boxes starting with the top roost. The main reason for doing so is that chickens are fond of roosting as higher as they possibly can get.
Apart from that, they produce manure in the form of droppings all night long. As such, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the cleanliness of the nest boxes if the chickens sleep in them. When nest boxes are at a lower level than the roosts, the hens will not roost in them.
What is the advantage of providing your laying hens with roosts?
By providing laying hens with roosts you will be helping them get relieved of stress, reduce some injuries and cannibalism. In the course of the day, chickens below the pecking order find their safety in perches. This type of chickens uses perches to hide from more dominant ones in the same coop. Their ability to escape and hide reduces cases of injuries and cannibalism.
Can roosts help in manure management?
Yes, roosts or perches play an important role in the management of manure. Normally, roosts allow chickens to stay off the ground especially during the night. Their droppings accumulate below the roost area making it easier to clean.
Does the spacing and positioning of roosts affect egg laying?
Absolutely yes. There are numerous reports from different chicken keepers. They claim that there’s a higher level of ground or floor eggs among the flocks that don’t access roosts as compared to those that spend most of their time roosting.
Depending on the size and number of chickens in your coop, you can place the roosts 2 feet off the ground/floor and at least 18 inches away from the parallel wall. Again you can space them 18 inches apart for each chicken.
If you have limited space, then you can install the stair-space fashion with 12 inches apart horizontally and vertically to enable your chickens to hop from one level of the roost to another. The whole idea is to ensure that your chickens have a very comfortable environment that they can freely perch, preen and play to stay healthy and happy throughout.