Roost For Chickens: The Best Solution For A Homestead

Raising chickens on a homestead is a rewarding endeavor that requires careful planning and understanding of the birds’ needs. One of the most critical aspects of chicken care is providing a suitable roost. A roost is more than just a place for chickens to sleep; it’s a coop structure that is vital to their survival and well-being.

A properly designed and positioned roost is critical to a successful chicken coop. DIY chicken roosts are the best option because the roost can be customized to fit your needs and the size and shape of your coop. Commercially built roosts are a good option for smaller coops and chicken flocks.

We will discuss the importance of a roost for chickens, explore the best materials for constructing one, discuss various design ideas, and guide you through building your own chicken roost. Whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or a novice, this guide will help you create the best roosting solution for your homestead chickens.

The Importance Of Chicken Roosts

Chickens, by nature, seek high spots to spend the night. This instinctual behavior is a protective measure against ground-dwelling predators. A well-designed roost satisfies this instinct, providing a safe, elevated space for your flock to rest and sleep.

When the sun dips low in the west on your homestead, your chickens will begin looking for a safe place to spend the night. While many birds opt for a nest, chickens prefer a roost over a nest to spend the dark night hours.

This behavior can be traced back to their wild ancestors, who roosted in trees to stay safe from ground predators at night. By roosting, chickens place themselves out of reach of many predators, ensuring a peaceful and undisturbed sleep.

A chicken roost is an elevated bar, branch, or narrow plank on which chickens perch to sleep. It’s not just a bed for chickens; it’s a space that caters to their instinctual need for safety and security.

Roosting also plays a significant role in a chicken’s health and hygiene. When chickens roost, they are less likely to come into contact with parasites and droppings found on the coop floor. This reduces the risk of disease infestation and transmission and keeps the chickens cleaner.

Roosting helps chickens feel safe and secure, which is crucial for their overall well-being. A good night’s sleep on a comfortable roost ensures that chickens are refreshed and ready for the day ahead. It also promotes better egg production and healthier, happier chickens.

Any old roost will not do for your chickens. There are specific roost designs that are optimal for chickens, which we will continue to explore.

Before we continue with the ideal roost designs, deciding whether you will construct your own chicken roosts or buy pre-build roosts is important. 

Should You Build Your Roosts Or Buy Pre-Constructed?

When it comes to providing a roost for your chickens, you have two main options: building your own or buying a pre-constructed one.

Both options have their pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your specific circumstances, including your budget, time availability, and personal preferences.

Building Your Own Roosts

Building your own chicken roost can be a rewarding and cost-effective project. It allows you to customize the roost to fit your chickens’ needs and the specific dimensions of your coop.

You can choose the materials, design, and placement best suited to your flock. This is particularly beneficial if you have a large or uniquely shaped coop or specific requirements that pre-constructed roosts may not meet.

Building your own roost can also save on chicken-keeping costs, especially if you can access free or low-cost materials. Custom-built roosts are also easier to expand or modify as your needs change.

However, building a roost requires time, effort, and a certain level of skill. It might be challenging if you’re not handy or short on time.

Buying Pre-Constructed Roosts

Buying a pre-constructed roost is a convenient option. It saves you the time and effort of building a roost from scratch. Pre-constructed roosts come in a variety of designs and sizes, so you can likely find one that fits your coop and meets your chickens’ needs.

Pre-constructed roosts are also a good option if you’re not confident in your building skills. They’re designed and built by professionals, so you can be assured of the product’s safety and durability.

However, pre-constructed roosts can be more expensive than building your own. They may also not fit perfectly in your coop, especially if your coop is a non-standard size or shape. Additionally, you have less control over the materials and design of the roost.

When deciding whether to build your own roost or buy a pre-constructed one, consider your budget, time, skills, and the specific needs of your chickens. Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that the roost provides a safe, comfortable, and suitable place for your chickens to rest.

Choosing The Right Material For A Chicken Roost

When building a chicken roost, the choice of material is crucial. The right material can significantly impact the roost’s comfort, safety, and longevity.

Wood is often considered the ideal material for a chicken roost. It’s sturdy, durable, and provides a good grip for the chickens’ feet, preventing them from slipping off. Wood also has excellent insulation properties, keeping the roost warm during cold nights and cool during hot days.

When selecting wood, you have two main options; dimensional lumber or natural branches. Dimensional lumber, such as 2x4s, is popular due to its availability and ease of use.

When using dimensional lumber, ensure the wide side is facing up to provide a broad surface for the chickens to roost on. This also allows the chickens to cover their feet with their bodies during cold weather, preventing frostbite.

On the other hand, natural branches offer a more organic and visually appealing option. They mimic the natural roosting environment of chickens in the wild.

If you choose to use branches, make sure they are sturdy and have a diameter that allows the chickens to grip the branch comfortably. Typically, a diameter between 1 to 3 inches works well for most breeds.

Regardless of the type of wood you choose, ensure it’s untreated. Treated wood can contain chemicals that may be harmful to chickens. Also, ensure the wood is smooth and free of sharp edges or splinters to prevent injuries.

Designing A Chicken Roost

Designing a chicken roost involves more than just choosing the right material. It’s about creating a space that caters to your chickens’ instinctual needs and promotes their well-being. Here are some design ideas and considerations to help you create the perfect roost for your flock.

  • The ladder or shelving style roost. This design mimics the branches of a tree, providing multiple levels for your chickens to roost on. The ladder or shelving style roost is particularly useful for larger flocks as it maximizes vertical space. Ensure each level is staggered and not directly above another to prevent chickens on the lower levels from being soiled by those roosting above.
  • The tree branch roost. This design involves using natural tree branches as roosts. It’s a more organic option that closely resembles the natural roosting environment of chickens in the wild. When implementing this design, choose sturdy branches with a comfortable grip diameter. Also, ensure the branches are securely fastened to prevent accidents.
  • Designing your own roost. If you’re feeling creative, you can design your chicken roost using materials around your homestead. This could involve repurposing old furniture, wood scraps, or even PVC pipes. The key is to ensure the roost is safe, comfortable, and suitable for your chickens’ needs.

When designing your chicken roost, keep in mind some basic considerations to ensure the roost is suitable for the chickens.

  • Height. Chickens prefer to roost as high off the ground as possible. However, the roost should not be so high that it’s difficult for them to hop up and down safely. A height of 2-4 feet or 0.6m to 1.2m is usually ideal.
  • Spacing. Ensure there’s enough space between each roosting bar to prevent overcrowding and allow for easy movement. A spacing of at least 10-12 inches or 25.5 cm to 30.5 cm between bars is recommended.
  • Location. The roost should be located in a quiet, draft-free area of the coop. It should also be higher than the nesting boxes to discourage chickens from sleeping in the boxes.

Keeping to these dimension basics will give you a good starting point, but you must adjust the roost’s dimensions according to the size of the chicken breeds you keep on your homestead.

Building A Chicken Roost

Once you’ve chosen the right material and designed your chicken roost, it’s time to start building. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  • Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools Depending on your design, you’ll need your chosen roosting material (dimensional lumber or natural branches), screws or nails, a drill or hammer, and possibly a saw. If you’re using tree branches, ensure they’re sturdy and have been cleaned and inspected for pests.
  • Step 2: Measure and Cut Measure the length of the area where you plan to install the roost. If you’re using dimensional lumber, cut it to the appropriate length. If you’re using tree branches, choose ones that fit the space well.
  • Step 3: Smooth the Edges If you’re using dimensional lumber, smooth any rough edges to prevent injuries to your chickens. If you’re using tree branches, remove any sharp or protruding bits.
  • Step 4: Install the Roost Secure the roost to the walls of the coop using screws or nails. If you’re creating a ladder or shelving style roost, install the bars at varying heights, ensuring they’re not directly above one another. Make sure the roost is secure and can bear the weight of your chickens.
  • Step 5: Test the Roost Before letting your chickens use the roost, test it to ensure it’s secure. Apply a little pressure to the roost to make sure it doesn’t wobble or come loose.
  • Step 6: Introduce Your Chickens to the Roost Chickens may need a little time to adjust to a new roost. Place them on the roost at nightfall to encourage them to use it.

Building a chicken roost can be a fun and rewarding project. Not only does it provide a necessary feature for your chicken coop, but it also gives you the opportunity to create a space that’s tailored to your chickens’ needs

Whether you have a large flock or just a few chickens, a homemade roost can provide a comfortable and safe place for your chickens to rest.

Key Features Of The Best Chicken Roosts

Creating a chicken roost that your flock will love involves more than just building a perch. The best chicken roosts have specific features that cater to the chickens’ natural behavior and promote their well-being.

Incorporating these features in your DIY roosts will help to improve the design and make your chickens more comfortable.

  1. Appropriate height. Chickens instinctively seek high places to sleep as a defense against predators. However, the roost shouldn’t be so high that it’s difficult for them to safely hop up and down. A height of 2-4 feet is usually ideal.
  2. Adequate spacing. Each chicken should have enough space on the roost to sit comfortably without being crowded by its neighbors. As a rule of thumb, allow for at least 10 to 12 inches or 25.4 to 30.4 cm of roosting bar per chicken. Also, ensure there is enough space between each roosting bar to prevent chickens on the lower levels from being soiled by those roosting above.
  3. Comfortable diameter. The roosting bar should be wide enough for the chickens to comfortably wrap their feet around it. A diameter between 1 to 3 inches or 2.5 to 7.6cm works well for most breeds. When using dimensional lumber, position it so the wide side faces up. This allows the chickens to cover their feet with their bodies during cold weather, preventing frostbite.
  4. Safe and secure. The roost should be securely fastened to prevent accidents. It should also be sturdy enough to bear the weight of your chickens.
  5. Positioned higher than nesting boxes. Chickens have a naturally driven instinct to roost at the highest available point. If the nesting boxes are higher than the roost, they may choose to sleep in the boxes instead, which can lead to soiled eggs.
  6. Made from safe materials. The roost should be made from untreated, non-toxic materials. Treated wood can contain chemicals that may be harmful to chickens.

By incorporating these main features into your DIY chicken roost, you’ll create a suitable roost that meets your chickens’ needs and contributes to their overall health, comfort, production, and happiness.


Creating the perfect roost for your chickens is essential to ensuring their comfort, safety, and overall well-being. A well-designed and well-placed roost caters to your chickens’ natural instincts, promotes better health, and contributes to a more productive and happier flock. Choosing the right materials, correct dimensions, positioning, and spacing for the roost is crucial.

The best roost for your chickens is one that meets their needs and fits within the context of your homestead and the design of the chicken coop. Finding the perfect solution may take some time and experimentation, but the effort is well worth it.


Recent Posts