Roosting and perching are natural behaviours for chickens and should be encouraged.
Is it OK for baby chicks to roost?
It is good for baby chicks to learn how to perch and roost. It is normally something a mother hen would show them how to do when she thought they were ready but it will come naturally to them in time.
Below: Most backyard keepers who raise their own chicks naturally will have see this scene before. The chicks perching on the mother hen.
You should give chicks the opportunity to perch while they are still in the brooder.
Place a sturdy and well balanced piece of log or specially built perch in a corner for them to explore and climb on. It should only be an inch or two high in the beginning.
Do chicks need to roost?
Baby chickens or chicks do need to roost and perch and it is a good habit to get into as it makes looking after chickens easier in the long run.
Chickens that roost properly won't be sleeping in nest boxes or on the floor.
What age do chicks start to roost?
Baby chickens or chicks will begin to perch at three weeks old. Three weeks is the earliest to put a perch in the brooder and it should be low to the ground so it doesn't matter if the fall off.
Below: This chick is still very young but is happily perching in the sunshine.
A perch that is too high in the brooder might allow them to escape by acting as a launch pad.
Should I provide a roost for baby chicks?
From about three weeks of age you can provide a perch for your chicks. It should be fatter than your index or middle finger to give the chicks a good chance of balancing properly.
Below: Here are a few barnevelder chicks at 3 weeks of age stood next to their perch.
If the perches are too narrow your chicks may develop feet problems. An old broom handle is ideal.
It should be sturdy and not easy to topple over. You could also use a piece of wood with a flat edge so it sits flat.
At what age do they begin to roost at night?
In the past I have has some of my chicks start roosting at 5 or 6 weeks of age and some as early as 4 weeks.
I would think at 9 weeks most chicks would have got the hang of roosting and perching.
How do you know when chicks are ready to perch and roost?
There is a quick an simple test to see if your chicks are ready to perch - Place them gently on your finger and see if they can balance there.
Below: A chick balancing on a finger.
If the chick can balance on your finger without falling off, it is ready for a perch.