11 Ways to Stop a Chicken Roosting in Trees (2024)

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Have you got a chicken roosting in trees instead of in the coop? This can be frustrating for many people keeping chickens.

Although some people allow or even encourage tree roosting, in many areas, it’s not recommended due to predators, weather, or just because it’s not how you, as the owner, want to keep your chickens.

Changing their habit can take a while once a chicken starts roosting in trees, but it’s possible.

Learn to stop chickens from roosting in trees and prevent them from starting the practice in this guide.

What’s Wrong With Chicken’s Roosting in Trees?

Before we look at how we can stop chickens from roosting in trees or prevent the practice from starting in the first place, we will list a few of the reasons why allowing them to do so is not always a good idea.

Although some people allow their chickens to roost in trees (it’s an accepted practice in some countries), this is often done by owners who allow free-ranging, including at night.

To keep your chickens the safest possible, having them secured in a coop each night is best. Here are some reasons why tree-roosting is not always a great idea.

1. Predators

There are so many areas where nocturnal and diurnal predators are out and about, but chickens are most at risk at nighttime. They have terrible night vision and are pretty much defenseless. If you have any potential predators, ensure your chickens are secure in a coop at night.

  1. Foxes
  2. Owles
  3. Raccoons
  4. Weasels
  5. Stoats
  6. Coyotes
  7. Domestic cats
  8. Wild cats
  9. Bears
  10. Snakes

Now, you may think that some of those predators are not tree-climbers, but the thing about animals is they are smart. They will wait for chickens to head to the tree, or to come down when the sun rises.

Owls have been known to knock chickens off branches and get them on the ground. Foxes have been known to study the chickens over long periods and learn their routine.

2. Diminishing Flock Numbers

It is common for a chicken roosting in trees to disappear in the middle of the night. When they do, you never know if it was a predator, and if so, which one?

No one wants to keep replacing chickens that disappear, and if you lock them in at night instead of letting them roost in trees, you know the same number of chickens will come out in the morning.

3. Eggs Not Layed in One Area

Chickens that avoid the coop at night are highly likely to avoid laying their eggs in there. They may lay in the same spot every day, but once you discover their stash, they often find somewhere else. You will never know how old those eggs are when you find them.

Eggs outside the coop nesting boxes may attract predators who will keep returning for more.

4. Surprise Chicks

A chicken roosting in trees in a large area may sit on eggs you don’t know about. One day, she suddenly reappears with a whole lot of babies if there is a rooster in the flock.

5. Weather

In the warmer months in a predator-free home, a chicken roosting in trees is no big deal. When the cold comes, it may be hard to retrain or convince them the coop is the best place to be.

11 Ways to Stop Chickens Roosting in Trees

These methods are to stop birds who are currently roosting in trees or to prevent them from starting.

1. Clip Their Wings

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Some people don’t like the idea of wing clipping, but if done correctly, you will not injure the chicken or cause pain. You are simply clipping the flight feathers at the end of the wing where the quills are hollow.

Some people clip one wing. However, if you have a flighty bird, both wings are best. It may take a while for the chicken to realize it can’t fly up to the roosting branch anymore, so make sure you go out and put it in the coop if it hasn’t made its way there on its own.

2. Ensure the Coop is Clean and Safe

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This may seem unrelated. But to prevent chicken roosting in trees, it can be useful. A chicken’s instinct is to get to a safe spot at night.

Sometimes (for some individual chickens and some specific breeds), they will want to roost in a tree regardless. For others, there is something wrong with the coop. Make sure it is clean and free of mites and predators.

Make sure there is enough room for all of the chickens, as sometimes a group of bullied chickens (or just one on its own) will roost outside when the others head in at night.

3. Put Them Back at Night Manually

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This may be more difficult than it sounds, depending on the chicken roosting in trees. It all depends on how high it is, the location of the tree, and your physical ability.

There are some chicken catchers you can purchase. One is similar to a fish net, and the other to a shepherd’s crook.

You can use these to gently get the chicken out of the tree and place it in the coop. You will need to repeat this several times over the week until the habit of going into the coop is embedded in the chicken’s brain.

This method is quite successful, so be patient and consistent.

4. Remove Access to the Tree

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A chicken roosting in trees can be deterred by reducing access to the tree. You can do this by pruning the lower branches that the chicken likely uses to access the higher branches.

Depending on the tree types in your chicken run or free range area, you could remove smaller trees and only keep the tall ones with smooth trunks and no low branches.

It is wise to have shade for the chickens, so if you remove the trees or prune away many branches, consider other ways to provide shelter, such as shade sails.

For a new coop and run area, consider having the trees on the outside of the run, but allow for growth that provides shade inside the run.

5. Feed the Chickens in the Coop in the Evening

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Some people have had success with this, and it is not something you need to continue too long. You want to lure the chickens into the coop at night with a few little treats.

Once the chickens go in automatically, you can stop altogether or do it randomly a couple of times a month, so they never know when it will happen.

To begin with, make this a regular training for the chickens. Over time, do it less. With consistency, you can retrain a chicken roosting in trees.

6. Have a Dim Light in the Coop

Chickens are attracted to light, so having a dim bulb in the coop when they should be heading in is a smart option.

Of course, not many coops have electricity, but solar options are available. Turn this off manually or with a timer once they are all in, and you have secured the door. If there is a chicken roosting in trees, it will be attracted to the light, so don’t lock it out.

7. Put a Fake Owl in the Tree the Chicken Roosts in

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This is not the most effective method because it is short-term. It doesn’t take long for the chicken to realize that the owl is not real, so if you haven’t broken the habit by the time it works your ruse out, it will keep roosting up in the tree.

Still, one with flashing eyes and a rotating head like the one available at Amazon might work for a while.

8. Confine New Chickens to the Coop

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This is another method for stopping the chickens from feeling the need to roost in trees before they start doing it.

New chickens are often bullied or nervous about going into a confined area like a coop with the older chickens. When you first integrate them into the flock, keep them confined to the coop for four or five days so that they know that is their new home where they belong.

Make sure there is food and water and enough ventilation and they should return every night as the sun goes down.

The interior temperature of the coop should be under 70ºF.

9. Make Sure the Coop and Run is Predator Free

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Sometimes, chickens get scared if predators visit the coop or run at night. They will feel the need to get high up as most coop perches are quite low to the ground.

It is for this reason they seek the height of tree branches.

Invest in a trail camera if necessary to see what is happening outside the coop at night and what is visiting.

Take whatever action you need to do to rid the area of the predator.

10. Consider Getting a Rooster

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This is the least likely to work, but it’s worth a try if all else fails. As the light starts to fade, a good rooster should signal to the chickens that it is time to head into the coop for the night.

He will generally make noises until they are all inside around him.

Those chickens who are being bullied may not go in, though, so it all depends on the dynamic of your flock.

11. Confine Them

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If you don’t mind keeping them confined for a little while, you can sometimes reprogram a chicken’s brain by keeping it confined in an area where the safest place to sleep is to go into the coop.

You can do this by putting an enclosed dog run attached to the coop or make a temporary structure out of chicken wire. Don’t put anything inside the confined area for them to roost on. The only place to roost should be in the cop.

This will give them room to run around but will reinforce the idea that the coop is a safe place to be. Usually, when one chicken gets the idea, the rest will follow.

Once they are going into the coop regularly for a week or two without any prompting from you, you can remove the temporary run and let them free-range once again.

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11 Ways to Stop a Chicken Roosting in Trees (2024)

FAQs

How do I stop my chickens from roosting in trees? ›

You can also use a pole with a hook on the end. Grab the bird's leg and pull it off the branch. Try enticing your hens to come down at night by only providing food and water in their coop. It's possible to discourage chickens from the tree by placing a fake owl in the branches, but the trickery won't work for long.

Why are my chickens sleeping in trees? ›

Roosting in trees boosts predators evading ability

However, chickens usually roost communally to maintain balance, feel warm, and scare off predators. IVCs protect themselves from daytime aerial predators when they roost or are flocked under the canopy of a tree.

How do you shoo away chickens? ›

- Loud noises can startle chickens and make them feel unsafe in an area. Using devices that emit sudden, loud sounds can be an effective way to deter chickens. For example, a motion-activated sound machine can emit a loud noise when it detects the presence of chickens, scaring them away.

Can I let my chickens roost in trees? ›

For my flock, part of them sleep in the coop and then most choose to sleep in the tree. I actually prefer the tree because it is easier to clean underneath, and they are spaced out in open air which means less sickness and parasites spreading.

Why do chickens nest in trees? ›

Regarding where they roost to sleep, it is instinctive for any chicken to get up as high as it can to avoid ground predators. Although they can't fly high, they can fly a few feet, so they roost in the low branches of trees or on any object off the ground they can flap to.

Do chickens like to sleep on the ground? ›

Chickens instinctively seek high roosts to avoid predators. A roost is an elevated bar, branch or narrow plank on which chickens perch to sleep. Seeking high spots to spend the night has been part of chicken survival instincts since long before its domestication over 5000 years ago.

Why do chickens shut down at night? ›

From the chick stage, chickens love to roost. While I do have chickens that prefer to bed down in the bedding or one that loves to sleep on a shelf (she's special haha), most of my chickens love to roost for the night. This is their instinct. In the wild, birds of all kinds roost as high as possible to avoid predators.

What happens if you drop chicken on the floor? ›

Food can be contaminated as soon as it touches the floor or dirty surfaces. There is no scientific evidence that proves food will not be contaminated, with bacteria, viruses and parasites, if it stays on the floor for less than five seconds.

How do you push a prolapsed chicken back? ›

Once the prolapse is clean, tuck the hen under your arm with her head covered to keep her calm and gently push the prolapse back into the vent cavity with clean hands or wear clean rubber gloves or even use a clean wet cloth to help you push it back.

What is the best deterrent for chickens? ›

Some options worth considering include oregano, thyme, lavender, mint, lemon balm, marjoram, chamomile, and sweet woodruff. Established perennial herbs are also rooted firmly into the ground, making it difficult for chickens to scratch them out even if they do get curious.

What smell do chickens hate? ›

This is good news for you, because once their new bedding or new feed is a familiar odor they will no longer have an aversion to it. Some herbs that chickens may not like are lavender, chives, marigold, catnip, and spearmint.

Does anything repel chickens? ›

As with deer, however, there are plenty of herbs that can be incorporated into the landscape that chickens will avoid. These include: borage, calendula (pot marigold), catnip, chives, feverfew, lavender, marjoram, Mexican sage, peppermint and spearmint, rosemary, sage, salvias, St. John's wort, tansy and yarrow.

Why do birds roost in trees? ›

Diurnal birds find safe, sheltered places to roost for the night. They often seek out dense foliage, cavities and niches in trees, or perch high in tree foliage, and other places where they are away from predators and protected from weather.

Why is my chicken roosting all day? ›

By instinct chickens want to roost or go to bed in the highest point available and be gathered for protection and warmth while they sleep. Once it starts to get dark, one by one the chickens will go into the coop, get up on the roost and settle down for the night. Sometimes the chickens would roost during the day.

Why are my chickens roosting on the ground? ›

When chickens spend non-laying time in nesting boxes, egg eating is also a concern. Lack of adequate roosting space can also lead to chickens sleeping on the ground, which increases health risks as birds are more prone to contact with parasites and bacteria.

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