Chickens Refusing To Roost

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 16 July 2020

 These chickens are enjoying their roosting perch

Chickens love to get their forty winks at night, and it is important that they get plenty of rest to ensure optimum health, which is why a chicken coop with adequate roosts are a must have for any backyard flock.

Despite providing this, at one time or another most backyard chicken keepers will have experienced chasing flock members at sun down to coax them into their coop to roost. Or even having to remove them from their nesting box where they have chosen to take up occupancy for the night- not a fun task for all involved.

So why, despite naturally wanting to roost, do chickens sometimes disobey the rules by not roosting on their perches, and how can you train these rebellious flock members to sleep on their roost, and not wherever they so please? We’re here to help!


Not returning to the roost to sleep is more common among younger chicks, or newly introduced flock members. This is because they may not yet be aware of where they are suppose to sleep, are struggling to get back into the coop, or they wish to sleep away from the older birds. The pecking order is serious business among a flock of chickens, so younger or new chickens will try their best to steer clear of established chickens until they are aware of the new pecking order, hence often sleeping in the most bizarre of places.

It could also be a matter of their bedtime being set too early. Like humans, chickens have a bodyclock and they can establish when they are ready to settle in for the night. If it’s still light out, chances are they will want to spend this time scavenging around for seed and insects rather than roosting.

Jungle fowl roosting on Penthouse run perch

If your coop is not kit out with enough perches, this will also deter your chickens from wanting to roost. Be sure that your coop has well structured perches that are suited to a hens feet, and are placed up off the ground in a safe and secure area of the coop. If you want to find out more about having the perfect perch, this article will tell you everything you need to know.

How to Stop it

So, what to do when you have some cheeky chickens refusing to roost in their given place? There are a number of ways you can give your chickens a helping hand when it comes to encouraging roosting.

To start off with, it may take some of the dreaded herding we mentioned earlier to coax them into the coop, but be sure they are all locked in the coop before sundown- this is to discourage them from frantically looking for a roosting spot outdoors when it starts getting dark. Once inside the coop, physically (yet gently), place one or two hens on the roost. This will help show younger chicks or pullets where there sleeping place is to be.

If your chickens have been taking up residence in the nesting boxes for some shut eye, be sure to start covering the nesting boxes, and making them unavailable for sleeping in. Why is sleeping in the nesting box such an issue you ask? It can lead to soiled eggs, egg eating, and dissuade laying hens from laying in the boxes, so it is best that this behaviour is discouraged from the outset.

By performing this ritual for a week or two, your chickens will soon learn their sleeping routine. All of our chicken coops come with spacious and specifically designed perches so your chickens can roost happily ever after!

Like all pets, chickens can be trained to stop bad habits and reinforce positive ones through new routines and simple changes. Some behaviours can be cute quirks for a breed, whilst others may be a cause of concern. It can be frustrating for keepers and potentially harmful for the flock. 

Cluckily, our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created an amazing Chicken Etiquette Course. This extensive online course shares useful advice on a variety of chicken behaviours. The well-structured course will also help you deal with bad behaviour and encourage positive behaviours. Keep the neighbours happy - their only complaint will be that they wish they also had chickens!

Learn how to have the best-behaved chickens in town with this beginner-friendly course. This is why I highly recommend Chickenpedia’s courses to all of my readers! They are filled with vital information that help you raise a happy, healthy flock.

Click here to check out Chickenpedia today!


Our range of coops recommend flock sizes in relation to the amount of perch and run space available. For example, the Taj Mahal has enough perch space for 5 chickens, the Penthouse can fit 10 and the enormous Mansion chicken coop can comfortably house 20 chickens. Make sure your perch situation is perfect before you move your fledgling flock of chooks in.

Sources and further reading