by Wendy EN Thomas of Lessons Learned from the Flock
Apparently I ruffled a few feathers with this post. Let me clarify, baby chicks don’t absolutely need to have roosts in their brooders, chicks raised without roosts in the brooders will still grow up to be well-adjusted chickens. However, roosting is an instinctive behavior and the older the chicks get, the more they are going to try to roost … on anything.In a brooder that doesn’t contain roosting equipment, that “anything” is usually the lip to the feeders which often results in chicken poop being deposited directly into the food or water. It’s not that big of a deal, if you are diligent about replacing the water and food, but by just putting in a few roosting bars (or bricks, or some higher area) you are then able to direct your chicks to where you want them to roost which will save you time and money in cleanup and wasted food.
An opportunity for keeping a cleaner brooder that I see people often missing with their chicks is that they don’t provide equipment for any roosting activity. Oh sure, they put in clean bedding and plenty of fresh food and water, but they forget to include small (solid) objects for the chicks to climb up on so that they can do their roosting thing.
|Our chick with her roosting sock|
Chickens (yes, even chicks) instinctively go to higher ground (if don’t believe me, put a chick on your chest and see how quickly it climbs to the top of your shoulder) and this drive to the higher ground is a powerful natural way to protect themselves when sleeping. No chicken wants to spend the night on the ground where predators could easily reach them. They’d rather be higher and safer, up in the branches of a tree. Because of this strong instinct, the chicks are going to roost whether you provide a roosting rod or not, so guess where they are going to go in a brooder that doesn’t have roosting equipment?
That’s right, your chicks will roost on the sides of your waterers and feeders. They’ll end up pooping all over the water and food. Not a pleasant thought and something that adds extra unnecessary work to the care of your chicks.
What can you do to avoid this? All you have to do is put something that your chicks can roost on into the brooder. We recently got a solitary very young chick and because I didn’t think she’d be able to stay on a roosting rod, I rolled up a sock and put it in the brooder with her. For the first few days, she used the sock on which to roost. Now that’s she’s older, I’ve included a rock for roosting, but she seems to prefer (at least for now, anyway) the comfort of that sock.
A stick, even a rock (or in my case, sock) will do in your brooder. Just make sure that whatever it is you use won’t tip over with the weight of the chicks on it and make sure that there is enough room for all of your chicks to roost. Your chicks will quickly figure out what to do and they’ll quickly learn to stay aware from the food and water feeder lids when it comes time to sleep.
Love common sense. The sock is a loving gesture as the chicks have indicated.
it has been in the single digits here at night and our hens want to stay outside on their perches that are up high in their coop. they go in their boxes to lay eggs but not to sleep! it is freezing and the stay in their coop in the weather. they have very little frostbite on their combs and i think it is from staying out on their perches and not going in where they are protected from the elements. WE ARE BRAND NEW TO RAISING CHICKENS!Is this normal?
thanx, i learned from the first chicks last year how much they want to roost, i did have to show them how to go up the ramp. and now i have 3 more, they are younger this time around. but i fixed a roost from day one. they loved it. now they are outdoors in a small coop and pen. they are still figuring out who gets the wall spot. so fun to watch. they don’t like my ramp for some reason; they try to fly up. Im working with them. love my biddies, Blessings from Central Mississippi.
I’ve always put a roost in with the small chicks. Like you, I use a rock when they are really small, and then switch to 1×2 when the get larger, about 2 weeks old.
I put a dowel, the same size as the one in the regular coop in for my babies. They were roosting on it to sleep within a few days! They also LOVE to hop up on top of the waterers.