Perch Importance: Chickens Need A Good Roost To Sleep

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 16 July 2020


Quite contrary to popular belief, chickens don’t actually cozy up together in their nesting box for some shut eye, instead they prefer to get their forty winks perched high on a roost. This is because evolutionary traits have taught these clever creatures that in order to survive in the wild and not be preyed upon, they must roost high and nest low.

There are many questions when it comes to having a roost (also known as a perch) in your chicken coop-where should it be? How many do I need? Is it really all that necessary? Firstly, yes, to provide your chickens with the basic fundamentals of a good home you MUST have a perch. Where, how and why? Read on to find out everything you need to know about providing the perfect perch.

  Why do I need a roost?

It is natural instinct for your chickens to want to roost up high (because they are descendants of wild birds which sleep in trees), so providing them with a suitably positioned roost will allow them to feel safe and protected while they sleep-a critical part of their daily activities! While they are mainly used for roosting, smaller chicks sometimes enjoy using roosts as a perch when they are honing their flying skills, or just as a rest and relax spot during the day.

How many for my hens?

chickens roosting in a taj mahal backyard chicken coop

If you only have quite a small flock, just one roost will be plenty, allowing approximately 25 centimetres per chicken (smaller if you have bantams)-remember, chickens love to cozy up together when they sleep for warmth and protection (more so in the colder months), so don’t be alarmed if they are all huddled together on one section of the perch! If you do have quite a substantial flock, your chicken coop may need more than one perch as to give your chicks a little extra rest room. Just be sure not to place one roost underneath the other as we all know that our girls love to poop, so this will spell stinky trouble for those roosting below…

How do I have the perfect perch?

jungle fowl roosting in penthouse backyard chicken coop run

Most respectable chicken coops will come with a roost built into their design, and it should be made with a sturdy and solid timber that is rounded off. It is important that the timber is rounded off as this makes it easier for them to grip,  and it should also ideally by 50mm as anything much smaller or larger can cause sore feet in your hens and lead to furthered ailments.

Where to place my perch?

As the point of the perch is to allow your poultry pals to roost up nice and high where they feel safe and secure, it should be placed at least 45cm from the ground. As a general rule of thumb, your roost should not be placed over anything you want to be soiled (from their droppings), so steer clear of placing them above any nesting boxes or feeders. A great idea is to place dropping boards (just a shallow bin) below the chickens roost, to collect their droppings for your compost and garden-no mess and a blooming garden, it’s a win-win!

By providing your flock with a safe and secure place to perch, play and preen you will keep your chickens happy and healthy for many years to come!

From perches to nesting boxes, creating the best home to keep your flock happy and safe is a daunting task with so many options. To build or to buy? Do you know how many nesting boxes & perches you need? Do you know how much space you need & why? Choosing the perfect coop for your breeds requires the right knowledge and equipment. You don't want to have all the gear and no idea!

Cluckily for us, our friends at Chickenpedia have created a Coop Sweet Coop course filled with advice and information to help your search. Find out all the options when buying or building a new coop including the best materials, sizes and locations. This extensive course will give you the confidence to make the right decision on a suitable and safe home for your feathered friends. This is why I recommend Chickenpedia to all my readers!

Click here to check out their beginner-friendly courses today!

Backyard Chicken Coops chicken coops all come with custom built design perches. Check out our range of coops.

Sources and further reading