Chicken Roost Spacing (How Much Space Do Each Bird Need?)

Chickens Roosting

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A roost is an essential living requirement for your chicken’s environment and providing a roost that gives your chickens enough space to feel safe and comfortable is a task that should not be overlooked. 

A chicken needs roost space off the ground so that they can feel safe from predators and also have a comfortable area to sleep during the night. While space from the ground is the obvious component, an important point to consider is how much space do each chicken need in total for roosting?

A chicken roost should be placed at least 2 feet high from the ground and 15 inches from the parallel wall. While space between each chicken will vary, a minimum of 12 inches vertically and horizontally should be enough space for most breeds to feel comfortable and it will give them enough room to move around, allow airflow, and also allow some chickens to group together if they desire. 

While roosting space will vary for each breed of chicken, there are some general guidelines that you can follow for a recommended roost layout.

Even the shape of the perch or branch needs to be correct as not to harm or hurt their feet. Check out more on this topic here! 

roosting hens

Why Do Chickens Need Space to Roost

Chickens need space to roost as a natural instinct and a place to feel safe and comfortable. As an instinct against predators, chickens will roost high above the ground to feel safe and for this reason, it’s an essential inclusion for any chicken coop. 

A roost is also a place for chickens to huddle together to maintain body heat, it benefits owners as droppings will be easier to clean up and you’ll even get better egg production as chickens will sleep on the roost and not the nesting box (meaning they will use the nesting box solely to lay eggs). 

Roosting and perching are different so perches don’t need to be as specific. Perches are only used for play and to sit and admire the world from. So, it’s not as important to have the spacing correct.

Chicken Roost Spacing

The topic of how much space chickens need to roost varies quite wildly with recommendations typically falling between 8 inches and 15 inches both horizontally and vertically. 

The specific spacing guides to follow are that you should make a roost 2 feet high from the ground. These can go as high as you want but then leave at least 15 inches from the ceiling. Also, make a roost 15 inches from the nearest parallel wall to reduce any mess from droppings. 

The debate is therefore chicken space and while the most common spacing guideline is 12 inches between each roost (horizontally and vertically), this video below shows that space might not be such a crucial aspect as what we might think…

Key Considerations

When planning your roost design/layout there are a few key factors that you need to take into consideration to ensure that your chickens are comfortable. 

  • If possible, place the roost at a higher level than nesting boxes. Chickens have adapted from an evolutionary standpoint to roost higher off ground and nest low to the ground. Therefore placing the roost at a higher level will encourage its use and make the chickens more comfortable. 
  • Leave enough space between the roost and the ceiling. Chickens not only need space around themselves when roosting but also room between the perch and the ceiling to allow them to flap their wings when getting up and down or positioning themselves to sleep.
  • Try not to place a roost above a feeding tray or nesting box as it will prove very difficult to manage droppings so this layout should be avoided if possible.

Will chickens rest on a 2×4?

Yes, keep the wood so that the 4” side is horizontal. Chickens don’t curl their feet around perches as other birds do, and they sleep flat-footed, so you need to make sure you provide enough support for their feet. 

How much space do chickens need to roost?

Each chicken needs 8-10 inches to roost. This number may change depending on how big your chickens are, and how close they like to be with other chickens. 

How far apart should roost bars be?

Roost bars should be spaced out 12 inches horizontally, and 12-15 inches vertically. If your chickens are bigger you might need to add more space both horizontally and vertically.

Should roosting bars be higher than nesting boxes?

Yes. your chickens should want to roost rather than sleep in a nest box. If they are sleeping in nest boxes, you’ll have to muck them out every morning.

How many chickens can fit in a 10×10 run?

The general rule of thumb is 10 square feet per chicken, so if you have a 10ftx10ft space you can fit about 10 chickens. 

What do you put under a chicken roost?

Chickens poop during the night, so you should put a dropping board under their roost. The dropping board collects- you guessed it- droppings to make the clean-up easier.

Final Thoughts

While most breeds will have specific requirements for how much space they need to roost, you should look to follow some basic guidelines to ensure that you are at least meeting the minimum requirement for what your chicken needs. 

A roost should be placed a minimum of 2 feet high from the ground and 15 inches from the nearest parallel wall and then allow a minimum of 12 inches between each chicken roost both horizontally and vertically (if you opt for a stair-step design roost).

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