Should chicken roosts be round or square?

chickens roosting

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All chickens need a place to perch during the day and especially at night while they are sleeping. It may seem like a small aspect of owning chickens, however, a proper roost is vital for their health and well being. If you’re confused about whether a round or square roost is best, you’re not the first.

Before recent research was able to provide the right answer, many people have said that both shapes equally work well for roosting chickens, but that is simply not the case. One is better than the other and we’ll give you all the simple reasons why.

The best type of wood to use to make a chicken roost is square with rounded edges. This provides a stable platform for them to roost without hurting their keel bone. Square wood with round edges provides the most contact with the keel bone and therefore allows the chickens’ feet to rest comfortably while roosting.

Why do hens need a place to roost?

A proper roost is not only a place for chickens to rest, it’s also what helps their bones to develop and become stronger. Roosting is essential to a chickens’ physical development and it is highly important to provide the right roost in order to allow them to grow properly.

While round roosts may seem like a more comfortable option, they are quite the opposite. Round roosts are known to cause damage to your chickens’ keel bones, foot pads, and overall health for several reasons. 

When chickens are standing on a perch more pressure is put on their foot pads, however, when sitting on a perch pressure is put on both the foot pads and keel bones. Many backyard chickens only perch when they are resting, which changes the overall needs for a roosting spot.

chicken keel bone
Image Credit @Reddit

What about when they sleep?

When chickens sleep they are not supposed to use their feet to keep them balanced on their roosting bars. It’s their toes that cling and lock to prevent them from falling.

When a round roost is provided, it forces your chickens to put pressure on parts of their feet that are supposed to be resting. Excess pressure on these areas can cause damage over time and when this occurs it can lead to calcium being redirected to healing the bones instead of creating healthy eggs.

A proper roost needs to form to the chickens’ feet in order to reduce pressure on the keel bone and foot pads. The keel bone takes larger amounts of pressure than the foot pads so it is extremely important to make sure that this area is being supported by the roost.

So, What’s the best shape to make a roost?

The shape that provides the most support to these areas is a square roost with rounded edges. This shape has the most contact with the keel bone and therefore allows the chickens’ feet to rest comfortably while roosting. The square shape also allows the chickens’ toes to curl around the sides and lock into place like they are meant to.

While the square shape is the best for roosting, it’s important to note that rounded edges are just as important. If you provide a square roost without rounded edges, the sharp sides can dig into the chickens’ feet, potentially cutting into them and harming their ability to balance correctly.

If you can’t find square pieces of wood with edges that are already rounded, simply sand down the edges on your own to ensure a proper shape is still provided.

This chicken swing is the perfect shape for your chicken to play, have fun, and roost. It’s available from Omlet and the link above will show you the price in the US.

chicken swing

What diameter should a chicken roost be?

The ideal diameter for a chicken roost is 2 inches – 5 inches.

What to use for chicken roosting bars?

You can use old ladders, branches, or wooden boards for a chicken roost. If you are using wood make sure you sand the roost first so your chicken’s don’t get splinters. Make sure you don’t use anything smooth (like a metal pole) for a chicken roost, or they won’t be able to hold onto it and they could develop bumble foot.

What is a chicken roost?

A chicken roost is an elevated bar that chickens sleep on to stay out of reach of their predators.

Why are my chickens not roosting?

If your chickens are suddenly not roosting, it could be because they were visited by a predator while they slept and don’t feel comfortable on the roost anymore.

Where do you put roosting bars?

Depending on the breed of chicken and how high they can reach, a roosting bar should be at least 18 inches off the ground, and at least 18 inches from the ceiling. Chickens poop a lot while they sleep, so try to put your roost bar over top of an area that is easy to shovel.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s a combination of both shapes that helps to provide the most optimal roosting space for your chickens. What may seem like small details in their living environment are actually key choices in raising healthy and happy chickens.

When you provide your chickens with a proper roosting bar, you’ll be able to notice the benefits that it has on their physical and mental well-being and they will thank you for that with strong, healthy eggs.

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