7 Natural Chicken Keeping Mistakes New Owners Make

7 Natural Chicken Keeping Mistakes New Owners Make

The second we got our farm, natural chicken keeping became a priority.

 

The egg itself is said to be the perfect source of protein, and chickens are so easy to keep that they make sense for any farm.

 

Natural chicken keeping also has the added benefit of saving you money, as long as you do it right (and there certainly are times when it’s best to not cut financial corners.)

We’ve saved by using fermented feed, herbs to keep our chickens healthy, and using food we could easily grow on our farm.

 

Buuuut….

 

We also made mistakes. 

 

At one point, we went 6 months with no eggs. That’s a huge bummer, believe me!

 

We’ve also had chickens stop laying in nesting boxes—and had to figure our way out of that one! (hint: placing eggs where you want them to lay helps!)

But we improved and got better.

 

Trust me, as a chicken owner, you will make mistakes (which you’ll learn from and get better from!)

 

As I’ve gained more experience in natural chicken keeping, and become a resource for new hen owners, there are certain mistakes I see time and again.

 

Here’s the top 7 natural chicken keeping mistakes that you can avoid—and the chickens you have hunting and pecking in your backyard will thank you!

 

1. Worrying too much about the GMO/Non-GMO debate

 

I frequently get emails from new owners who want to know whether they should provide non-GMO feed, or who don’t know what to do because they can’t afford organic non-GMO layer mash.

 

The bottom line is the quality of your hen’s diet is the most important thing. If you can’t afford organic, non-GMO feed, then just opt for what you can afford.

 

While people will tell you that natural chicken keeping begins with feeding non-GMO, organic feed, it’s also about using naturally-found herbs, fermented grain and vegetables, or even crafting your own feed to raise healthy hens.

 

It’s more important that you enjoy your “pets with benefits” and feel good about them—and if you’re stressing about not being able to afford organic feed, or if you’re putting yourself in financial distress over it, then keeping a backyard chicken flock won’t be any fun. 

 

Do your best, and enjoy the parts of natural chicken keeping that are within your budget and time constraints.

 

2. Getting a rooster so your hens lay eggs

 

Every so often I encounter new owners who believe they need a rooster to get eggs from their hens, and that roosters are a part of natural chicken keeping.

 

One of the nice things about owning hens is they’ll lay eggs whether a rooster is present or not—you only need a rooster if you want eggs to hatch. 

 

(If you’re wondering how chickens mate, it’s pretty wild.)

 

Getting a rooster isn’t a bad idea, and it helps your hens feel safer and completes their social hierarchy, but you definitely don’t need a rooster to start all natural chicken keeping.

 

Which is good news if your town doesn’t allow them!

 

3. Underestimating chicken predators

 

Every time I hear about a new owner who loses their flock to a formidable predator, I feel terrible for them. 

 

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than working hard to raise a natural, healthy chicken flock only to have it ripped apart in one night by a raccoon. 

 

I’ve found that a lot of new chicken owners don’t realize just how crafty predators can be, and how much energy they’ll exert to get a free dinner.

 

Part of natural chicken keeping is making sure your flock stays safe. 
Sometimes new owners think chickens will be fine left to their own devices, but hens are pretty much defenseless against chicken predators

 

Usually, they either run away or fly up away from predators. Other than that, they don’t have many natural defenses.

 

You might not realize that predators aren’t just wild animals—domestic cats and dogs can cast an eye at your flock.

 

We made the same mistake, until we started losing them to our dog! I’ll never forget the day we learned that our dog, who was so great with people, was a chicken killer.

 

So, even if you don’t have wild predators, remember that a secure coop and run will help prevent your flock from becoming a chicken chew toy.

 

4. Assuming chickens will fend for themselves and stay healthy

 

Probably one of the biggest mistakes I see is when new owners assume that natural chicken keeping means letting the hens forage for their own sustenance.  

 

Natural chicken keeping doesn’t mean allowing your hens to fend for themselves, and if you go this route, you run the risk of unhealthy hens, no eggs.

 

You won’t believe how many emails I get from owners who aren’t getting eggs and have no idea that diet is the issue.

 

You might also lose chickens to predators as they stray further and further from their home.

 

Sometimes I read advice that it’s natural to allow a chicken flock to feed itself because our ancestors did it, but it’s simply not true.

 

For example, what happened in the winter with snow on the ground and nothing growing? Were the hens foraging then?

 

Natural chicken keeping doesn’t necessarily mean throwing chickens in your backyard and forgetting about them until you want eggs, but it’s a common mistake I see new owners making.

5. Thinking oyster shells and grit are the same thing

 

When I read Facebook posts from people trying to explain natural chicken keeping, they frequently say something like “give your hens oyster shells or grit to help them digest.”

 

While you should offer both to your chicken flock, oyster shells and grit serve two different purposes.

 

Oyster shells are used as a calcium supplement so your hens can form healthy, hard egg shells. 

 

Without some sort of calcium supplement, your hen might become deficient in the mineral.

 

She then might start to lay soft shell or other abnormal eggs, or she might start drawing calcium from her own bones to lay natural normal-looking eggs.

 

Grit, on the other hand, helps your hen digest food, and without it, she might develop an impacted crop or even sour crop.

 

Your hen will swallow the grit, and it will make it’s way into her gizzard, where the stones will sit and help “chew” whatever food she’s eaten.

 

So, each serves a very different purpose, and shouldn’t be confused (but both are equally important for your chicken.)

 

6. Using vinegar to clean wounds

 

While vinegar works well in natural cleaning solutions, it’s not a good idea to use it in wounds. 

 

I do see this advice from time to time, and it’s a common issue in my area.

 

Even my vet asked me whether I use vinegar to clean wounds when I brought a rabbit to see her, and was relieved to hear that I don’t use it.

 

Vinegar doesn’t have the same bacteria-killing qualities as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, for example, and it simply won’t be as effective in preventing an infection.

 

You’ll be doing your chicken a disservice by using it.

Failing to learn about common illnesses and how to treat them

 

Although many of my readers DO try to learn about common chicken illnesses before getting a flock (and a hearty high-five to them!), many owners out there DON’T—and then use Facebook groups as a way to diagnose their chickens.

 

Similarly, about once a week I get a message over Facebook from an owner who asks me to diagnose their sick chicken—something that’s virtually impossible to do over social media.

 

While I feel for every flock owner out there with a sick hen, and it’s natural to want answers, don’t wait until you’re in trouble to learn about chicken illnesses.

 

There’s many natural remedies out there for common illnesses, but the time to learn about them is not when you have a sick chicken.

 

Learn about common ailments and how to treat them (natural remedies or conventional) before or as soon as you get your flock—life will get a lot simpler, and you’ll be better prepared to help your hen when she’s in trouble.

 

While as a new flock owner, you will likely make mistakes, natural chicken keeping is full of rewards—just give it your best shot!

I’d like to hear from you!

Is there anything on this list of natural chicken keeping mistakes you would add? Leave a comment below!

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

So I’m a huge fan of Halloween! I think it’s so fun for kids and I love the costumes, the pumpkins, and all of the fall decorations.

However, especially if you’re raising chickens in an urban or suburban area, Halloween can be a pretty stressful and scary time for your chickens. So today we’re going to talk about how to keep your chickens safe on Halloween.

Now the thing about Halloween, is that it’s really fun for us humans, but for animals it can be kind of a scary time, especially if you have domestic animals. There’s going to be a lot more activity in your neighborhood during Halloween and that can be very stressful for chickens and other pets.

 

Trick-or Treating People

The number one thing to remember during Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, is that not every neighborhood Trick-or-Treats at night.

Usually chickens will go in their coop at night and you’ll keep them safely cooped up all night long night, so you might think you don’t need to take any extra steps to keep them safe.

But some areas tend to have Trick-or-Treating hours during the day, or at dusk, right before sunset, which are times when your chickens might be out and about and hunting and pecking instead of safely in their coop.

So you definitely want to make sure that you coop your chickens up during the hours of Trick-or-Treating, especially if they’re during the day.

More and more neighborhoods are shifting more towards day hours to protect kids. And so younger kids who might go to bed earlier, can still enjoy Trick-or-Treating.

So definitely make sure that your chickens are cooped up. And make sure that the coops are secure. You’re going to want to make sure that other people can’t easily get into your coop. 

I would also consider keeping your chickens cooped up the night before Halloween because that tends to be mischief night. Mischief night is a big deal in some areas.

It’s not such a big deal in our area. We live in a very rural neighborhood, and I grew up in a rural neighborhood where we actually never got Trick-or-Treaters.

But in some areas that I have lived in, mischief night has been a big deal, especially if you have a lot of teenagers around or young adults who might be impetuous.

It could be a pretty disastrous situation for your chickens. So my suggestion is just all Halloween, the night before Halloween and Halloween day, and that block of time around Halloween, just keep your chickens cooped up, or if you do allow them to forage and run around, supervise them just for the sake of safety.

It’s not worth somebody possibly harming your chickens, to let them roam around free.

My recommendation is that you keep your chickens cooped up or make sure that they are being supervised, so that you can make sure they stay safe.

 

Dogs

This is another reason why you should coop your chickens up on Halloween. A lot of people, as they’re taking their kids around Trick-or-Treating, bring their dog with them. And we all know that even the most family friendly dog, when it sees a chicken, can turn into a killer.

I know this from personal experience. Our dog was a great family dog. Loved people and was so friendly, but the second he got around a chicken, he turned into a chicken killer.

Not every dog out there is going to be like that, obviously. But you really don’t want to take the chance that’s somebody’s neighborhood dog could get at your chickens. That’s just another reason to keep your chickens cooped up earlier on Halloween.

 

Predators

Because of all the candy and all the food around during Halloween, predators might be a bigger issue. Namely, things like possums and raccoons.

Raccoons are pretty nondiscriminatory when it comes to what they eat. If it’s there, they’re going to go for it.

So because of all the candy and food around, raccoons are more likely to be out than they would any other night. They’re going to be out every night, but they’re probably going to be out in droves on Halloween (and probably a couple days after too).

So I recommend that you double check that your coop is secure, so that your chickens will be safe from predators.

Traffic

Another reason to keep your chickens cooped up around Trick-or-Treat time, is because of higher volumes of traffic. I remember when we were kids, my parents didn’t want to walk with their kids from house to house. It’s not fun. It’s tiring. You’re an adult. You’ve been working all day. So what do you do? You get the car out.

The problem with this, (I’m sure you’re already put it all together) is that chickens sometimes aren’t the brightest when it comes to traffic. I know mine aren’t. We’ve actually never had a chicken get hit, but it can happen because people aren’t paying attention. They’re watching their kids. They’re watching the dog. They’re not paying attention to what your chickens are doing.

Then there’s the people who’ll hit your chickens on purpose. So best advice, during Trick-or-Treat hours, after Trick-or-Treat hours, and on mischief night, just keep your chickens cooped up.

Your chickens won’t be harmed in any way by keeping them cooped up. Just make sure that they have plenty of food and water. You can give them extra treats and boredom busters to keep them entertained, but I would recommend you keep them in their coop.

Candy

Don’t be tempted to give your chickens candy. As we all know, chickens are curious creatures, and when given the opportunity, they’ll taste anything. If you’ve been thinking about giving them candy during Halloween, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. They don’t need it.

There are plenty of other healthy treat options you can give your chickens if you want to spoil them on Halloween. You could give them corn (real corn, NOT candy corn!), lettuce, Black Soldier Fly Larvae, mealworms, or one of my treat mixes, but please don’t give them candy.

Now another thing to keep in mind, is to make sure that you keep your trash cans lidded up tightly, so that your chickens can’t scavenge in the trash cans.

For the most part they’ll pretty much eat whatever they can find. Candy can mess with their blood sugar and it can mess with a whole ton of other things.

The other thing is that certain candies, such as hard candies, gumballs, or candy corn, can be choking hazards for your chickens. Once they swallow the candy it goes into their crop. Eventually it hits the gizzard. The gizzard has rocks in it and it grinds everything up.

But in the meantime, as it’s going down the esophagus, there’s a chance that they might choke on it. Especially if it’s something big and hard.

Don’t give your chickens candy and try not to throw candy in your yard. You just want to make sure that your yard is fairly clean before you let your chickens out of their coop again.

Chances of them choking on candy are probably slim (they could also just as easily choke on a piece of hard corn) but for the sake of making things easy on ourselves, just avoid giving your chickens candy.

The final thing that I’ll say about candy, is to not give your chickens anything that’s been unwrapped. As an example of this is, some families prefer to give out healthy treats, so they’ll give out apples, or oranges, or bananas.

My suggestion is although it might be tempting to throw them in the compost pile, or to feed it to your chickens as their Halloween treat, don’t feed them anything that’s come from another person that’s been unwrapped.

It’s the same reason as we don’t give it to our children. You don’t know what somebody’s put in it. You don’t know if they’ve put poison in it. You don’t know if they’ve put pins in it.

We all hear the stories every year of somebody where someone found pins or other stuff in their kid’s Halloween candy. It can happen. My suggestion is stay safe, don’t feed your chickens any unwrapped fruit or vegetables from other people, because again, you don’t know what’s been in them.

Candy Wrappers

So as we all know, chickens are opportunistic eaters. They might very well go ahead and try and eat candy wrappers. And that’s definitely not good for them.

So just make sure that when your kids are eating the candy that all the candy wrappers get cleaned up so your chickens don’t accidentally ingest them.

Candy wrappers are something that could very easily mess with your chickens digestive system. It might not hurt them immediately, but it could cause some serious problems later on.

Make sure your chickens can’t get at any candy wrappers and be sure that you keep your trashcans lidded so that your chickens can’t get in them and dig around and accidentally ingest a candy wrapper or anything else that they really should not be eating.

It’s good to keep the raccoons away too, so I highly suggest you lid your garbage cans.

 

Can your chickens eat pumpkins or gourds?

We’ve talked about all of the scary stuff, so now let’s talk about feeding your chickens pumpkins! If you have unpainted pumpkins or other sorts of gourds, go ahead and chop them up and feed them to your chickens.

They will absolutely love you for it! If the pumpkin or the gourd has been painted, I probably would not feed the peel itself to your chickens. We don’t really know what’s in those paints so it’s not good for them. And as the person eating their eggs, you don’t want to ingest any of that either.

Go ahead and cut away the painted part, then feed it to your chickens. If the whole outside has been painted, maybe just cut it open and scoop out the interior.

There is a belief that pumpkin seeds can help your chickens with worms. I don’t really see any proof of that, but at the end of the day, the chickens love the seeds. They think they taste great and they’re good for them. And the pumpkin itself is very good for them. It has a lot of nutrients in it!

My one tip when it comes to pumpkin and gourds, is to wait to buy them until the day after Halloween. The grocery stores in our area heavily discount gourds after Halloween, so I will often buy like 10 gourds for only five bucks.

I feed them to my pigs, I feed them to the chickens. We even feed them to our goats too!

It’s a perfect opportunity for people like us to go score really inexpensive food for our chickens and the other livestock on our farm. It’s super healthy for them and they love it! They get to dig through it and they’ll just have the best time ever.

So yes, your chickens can eat pumpkins and gourds. They will love it, and it’ll be very nutritious for them. So go ahead and feed them away to your flock!

So that’s all folks, I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about how to keep your chickens safe for Halloween! Let me know in the comments below what you do to keep you chickens safe for Halloween!

DIY Automatic Coop Door With ChickenGuard

DIY Automatic Coop Door With ChickenGuard

Building your own DIY automatic coop door is easy with a ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener!

 

(For this article, ChickenGuard provided us with a free Automatic Coop Door Opener. This article reflects my own personal opinions using this product).

 

With the hot summers and chilly winters (with lots of freezing rain) in Southeast Missouri, making sure my flock as easy access in and out of their coop is very important.

 

That’s why a few years ago, we installed an automatic coop door. It worked great….until the goat broke it one day.

 

Since then, the door has stayed silent, and my patient flock had to wait until I made it outside to let them loose for the day.

 

That is, until ChickenGuard asked if I’d review their Automatic Coop Door Opener.

 

chickenguard automatic coop door

They previously sent me an automatic opener and door kit (read that review here). 

 

Since we already had an automatic door that didn’t work, I was excited to test out the Automatic Coop Door Opener and see if we could rig it with our existing door and make it functional again.

 

Since the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener works with any pre-existing door that can easily slide up and down, I had a good feeling it would solve our problems. 

 

And since it’s also programmable, my hens could enjoy the weather long before we woke up!

 

Here’s how we combined our existing door with the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener – and how you can do it with your hen house!

 

Building Your Own Automatic Coop Door

 

For the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener to work, you’ll need to make or purchase door that slides up and down. We already had one, but to make your own, you’ll need:

  • A sawzall or other tool to cut an access door into your coop
  • 1×2 boards to frame the access door (enough for 2 frames)
  • Wood to build your new door from (a 12-inch x 12-inch piece of wood works well. An easy solution is to use the piece leftover from cutting the access door).
  • Screws to secure the frame (the length will depend on your door, but make sure they won’t stick out and hurt your chickens)
  • An eye hook

 

For your door, you’ll want to make sure the color matches your coop (you can either make it the same color, or a complementary contrasting color).

 

Framing the door is important – on the outside, it’ll make your coop look more finished. 

 

automatic chicken coop door

Our DIY Coop Door framed on the outside looks good and helps keep predators out.

 

On the inside, it’ll prevent predators from easily pushing the door out of the way to enter your coop. 

 

The ChickenGuard will only do so much – it’ll open and close the door. To ensure your coop is 100% predator proof, framing the entire area is necessary.

 

You will need to leave enough space between the frames so the coop door can slide up and down. 

automatic chicken coop door

The 1/2 inch grove between the inner frame and outer frame lets the door easily slide up and down.

The gap size will depend on the piece of wood you use. The pre-existing door we had left about a ½ inch gap between the frames.

 

Installing the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener

Once your coop access door is framed, adding the automatic door opener is a snap.

 

To the top of the coop door, drill in the eye hook – you’ll loop the string from the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener through it. We simply tied ours to the eye hook. The motor in the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener raises and lowers the door.

 

chicken guard coop door opener

 

The coop door will automatically rise and fall using the string. It seems simple, but it works VERY well. 

 

We’ve been using this product for months with no problems – and our flock is VERY happy.

 

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Programming & Testing The ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener

 

Follow the directions in the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener manual to program the product. It’s simple, and you only need to press a few buttons. 

 

In our previous review of the self-locking door kit, we had it installed in 10 minutes. We set ours to open at 7 AM, but we change the closing time based on the season.

 

To test whether your new automatic coop door works, simply press the buttons on the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener – if your coop door slides up and down, it works! 

 

You can purchase the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener on Amazon here.

 

If we were to install a 4th coop door (yes, we have quite a few!), I would purchase the ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener. It’s worth a little extra effort to create easy access for your chickens to get in and out of their home without relying on their humans.

October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

It’s fall, y’all….and that means you gotta make sure your backyard chickens are ready before the cold sets in.

 

I know in some parts of Canada (looking at you, Alberta) that it’s already snowing….but for most of the United States, it’s just starting to get cool.

 

And there’s lots you can do right now BOTH to celebrate the season AND prepare your flock for the upcoming wind and ice.

 

Although chickens weather winter pretty well in most locations (their feathers help!), just a few tweaks can mean an easier time when the mercury dips.

 

Even if you live in a temperate climate, there’s ideas on this list to help your backyard chicken flock stay healthy year round.

 

There’s also LOTS of treat ideas to make the most out of fall!

 

Give a good clean out before cold sets in

Now is the time to give your coop a final clean before the cold makes it miserable outside. You likely won’t want to clean it again (a deep clean at least) until the spring thaw.

 

In addition to sweeping out any old bedding, be sure to wash off any accumulated poop on or under roosting bars, and wipe down nesting boxes that might have bits of broken egg or feathers lodged in them.

 

If you have a wooden or cement floor, give it a good wash to reduce the chances of ammonia build up, which can effect your chickens’ lungs.

 

Decide how to keep water from freezing

Now is the time to figure out how you’ll keep water unfrozen in your chicken coop. Will you use heated bowls, solar energy, or add water throughout the day?

 

There’s lots of options (you can view them in this article about keeping water from freezing), and you’ll have to find one that works for your particular situation.

 

Remember, what works in Southern Missouri likely won’t work in Northern Dakota, right?

 

Keep an eye on local super markets for pumpkin sales

This time of year, there’s lots of pumpkins to buy. Don’t pay retail – wait until they go on sale and stock up for your backyard chickens.

 

Pumpkin is very healthy for chickens, with lots of vitamins and nutrients for chickens – and they love pecking at it!

 

Most stores start to discount pumpkins well before October 31.

 

Pumpkins keep for a while, and stored in a cool, dry location, you can have healthy treats for your hens for the next month or two!

 

If you REALLY want to buy one now, you can make a cute coop decoration by carving out a pumpkin into a flower pot.

 

After a week, you can then feed it to your chickens! Just make sure you use flowers that aren’t poisonous.

 

Help molting hens or hens experiencing feather loss from roosters with a high protein diet.

Yep, every fall, some or all of your chickens will lose their feathers due to molt.

 

It’s normal – and there’s something you can do to help regrow those feathers quickly!

 

Giving your flock a high protein diet that include black soldier fly larvae or Fluffiest Feathers Ever! (28% protein) is an easy way to provide a high protein diet – and chickens LOVE both!

 

Double check coop security – food is getting scarce for predators.

While predators might leave your fluffy butts alone during summer, as the days get shorter and food becomes more scarce, they might turn an eye to your chickens.

 

Now is the time to check that your coop is completely secure and make adjustments as needed.

 

Make sure all doors and windows latch tightly, and upgrade the wiring around your coop if necessary. You don’t want predators to get OVER your coop walls or UNDER them!

 

See tracks and not sure what predator is hanging around? Check out my predator footprint guide here!

 

Head out to farmers markets and/or orchards.

You can usually purchase seconds (bruised or unattractive fruit that’s still fresh and edible) for pennies on the dollar. They still make great treats for your fluffy butts!

 

Some great ideas for fruit and veggies to feed backyard chickens are peaches (without the pits), apples (without the seeds), and leafy greens!

 

You can also grow your own leafy greens over winter for your backyard chickens with this guide.

When Do Chicks Roost?

When Do Chicks Roost?

Wondering “When will my chicks roost?”

 

Full-grown chickens look most at home when they’re roosting, don’t they? Roosting is when chickens settle in on a roost to rest safely. 

 

 

It’s an important part of their lives because it symbolizes an authentic feeling of security, which, for a prey animal, is very important. Chickens don’t start out their lives roosting, though. 

 

They’ll Roost When They’re Ready

The true answer to this question is that your chicks will roost when they’re ready to roost. But we can talk about the different stages that chicks go through when it comes to roosting. 

 

Chickens roost in order to be safe. It’s an instinctual thing that a lot of different birds do, so they’ll naturally start to do it when they’re ready.

 

What’s Feathers Got To Do With It?

On our farm, we have noticed that different breeds of chicks will start to roost at different times and at different ages. Generally speaking, we have found that they start to roost at around 8 to 12 weeks. 

 

The reason for that is because when they’re chicks, they naturally want to huddle together in a clump on the floor, which is how they stay safe. If you think about it, in the wild they want to cluster under their mother. Since the mothers are generally on the floor, that’s where they’ll cluster. (Which is one reason I don’t think chicks need their mother hens.)

 

When they’re chicks, they are covered in down, which is not really feathers. Chickens can’t get up on to anything unless they jump on it, so only once they start to develop feathers will they start to actually roost. Even then, I’ve found that it takes them until that 8- to 12-week mark.

 

When Feathers Appear

You might notice that, even at maybe two weeks, when they start to get their wing feathers, the chicks will start to want to roost if given the option. This happens even in your brooders

 

Will they roost up high like adults? No, but they might roost maybe 18 inches off the ground, and that just shows that it’s an instinctual thing for them. You don’t have to train them for this. They’re going to do it naturally. 

 

Learning By Example

In our coop, we start integrating baby chicks into the coop at around 10 weeks. By this time, they usually have all their feathers. If they don’t, they still sit on the ground, but they’re watching the adults roost.

 

These youngsters start to get the picture that, “Oh, that’s what I supposed to do as a chicken.” But really until they get the feathers, they’re usually not going to start doing that. 

 

Not Roosting?

If you find that your chickens aren’t roosting despite having feathers and despite being the right age, ask yourself some questions:

 

  • What do you have in there for them to roost on? 
  • Is there anything driving them away from it? 

 

An example might be that you don’t have anything in there or what you have in there is too thin. 

 

Chickens are not going to roost on little twigs. You want their roost to be about two inches wide. That’s more comfortable for them. 

 

But let’s just say your roosts are perfectly fine and your chicks are not using them. Then ask yourself;

 

  • Is the roost too high? 
  • Is there something about the roost that’s unattractive? 
  • For example, can vermin get onto it? 

 

Let’s say mice can get onto it and are scuttling around at night; your chickens aren’t going to want to roost on that. 

 

Those are just some questions to ask. 

 

Roosting Materials

As stated before, roosting is very important, and making sure your coop has higher places for your chickens to sleep is a step towards making it 100% predator proof. 

 

As for roosting material, we personally go for the natural type of roosts. We might use sticks from outside, larger logs, for example. We also make swings out of those pieces of wood, or we might use a two by four. 

 

You can buy commercial roosts. We’ve never actually used them because we found that free logs seem to work better for us. 

 

As you can see, your chicks will roost when they’re ready AND when their coop is comfortable!

 

Additional reading:

Country Chic Coops To Deter Predators

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