Chicken Roosting Bars

A roosting bar is basically a fancy word for a chicken bed, but it's not what you're thinking. Forget the fluffy pillow and cozy duvet cause after a long day of pecking around, your bird will hop up and settle in on the roost to sleep.

Chicken's have a natural roosting instinct. Wild chickens (and sometimes pesky free range chickens) tend to roost high up in trees, while our domesticated chickens appreciate the roosting bars we give them! This instinct helps to keep chickens safe from predators, as they notoriously have poor defence mechanisms and even worse nighttime eye sight.

Did you know? Pecking order plays a role in where your birds end up on the roosting bars. The birds highest on the pecking order get the highest position on the bars, while the birds lower in the order are relegated to the more vulnerable lower bars.

Various chickens on roosting bars.

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Choosing Placement

It's important to consider both the height and location of the chicken roosting bars in your coop.


The height of the roosting bars matters - they should be high enough to protect from predators. While domestic chickens can sleep in a cuddle puddle on the floor, roosting higher up helps to protect the birds from infection by bacteria or infestations by pests like mites and lice hiding in the bedding.

Roosting bars should also be located higher than the nesting boxes, this will help discourage your hens from sleeping (and pooping) in the nesting boxes as they will seek out the higher roosting area. This is helpful for keeping eggs clean, especially when you're collecting hatching eggs!

Aim to have the bottom roost at least 2 feet off the floor and about 18 inches away from the nearest wall.

Pullets on roosting bars.
Young pullets relegated to the lower roosting bar


Within the coop, you'll want to place the roosting bars in a protected area, away from drafts or open windows, where the weather can't reach them. This will help keep them dry during rain storms and frostbite free in bitter winter weather.

Avoid placing the chicken roost directly above the nesting boxes, feeders, or waterers unless you've got a poop shield, or something to deflect any errant nighttime poops away.

You can see our setup in the photo below. I don't believe in keeping feed and water in the chicken coop, so protecting them from droppings is not a concern.

Poop shield protecting nesting boxes.

Best Materials


The most common option for nesting bar materials is a simple, untreated 2x4 laid flat. In our coop, we have multiple levels of 2x4s resting on the wide edge. Due to our cold climate, we feel this is best for the birds, and I believe our chickens prefer flat wide surfaces so they are able to squat down and cover their toes with their warm bellies in the cold months.

Flat wooden 2x4s are also very easy to clean. We have a large putty scraper that we run across the top of the roosting bars twice a week or so to ensure they're staying clean.

If you're choosing to use a wooden roost, you'll want to ensure there are no slivers or sharp edges that can cut your hen's feet.


Many chicken keepers swear by using branches, and while they have many upsides, like being recycled, natural, and sturdy, the shape can be somewhat unpredictable, as can the diameter along the length of the branch. The ideal diameter is at least 2 inches wide.

Branches are very difficult to clean, and for that reason alone, I would hesitate to use them as primary roosts but they can definitely make cool chicken coop accessories!

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Recycled Materials:

A large diameter dowel or even a wooden ladder can make a good recycled/upcycled roost.

I actually have a wooden ladder in our chicken run, and our flock loves it.

Materials To Avoid:

Anything slippery should be avoided - metal, plastic, etc.

Not only do these materials lack adequate grip for the chickens to safely perch on overnight, they also tend to perform poorly in winter months. Cold metal can cause frostbite quickly in cold weather, while plastic lacks insulation value and can also chill their feet.

Chicken roosting in a tree.
Cockerel climbing trees in our chicken run.

Roosting Bar Space

In general, 8 inches of space is enough for smaller bodied laying hens, while 10 inches is better for larger bodied heritage breed chickens.

When planning out your roosting bar length, consider that chicken math is a real thing, and although you planned on having 10 hens, you're going to end up with 30 - that's just how it works!

We have 3 sides of our coop lined with a roosting bar at one height, and then along the far wall, away from the run door, we have two more chicken roosts offset about 12 inches apart and staggered by about 24 inches vertically. This provides a ladder for the hens to climb/descend as well as more roosting space.

It is normal for them to exhibit different roosting behavior in different seasons - during the summer, chickens may spread out to cool off, and may cuddle closer together in the cold winter months. Make sure to observe your flock throughout the year to ensure they do have adequate space.

Labeled photo of roosting bars in the coop.

Super Easy DIY Option

Kevy and I are not afraid of hard work or doing things the dirty way, but if there's ever a chance to hit the easy button, we are all for working smarter, not harder!

When we were retrofitting the coop to better suit our needs, and our growing flock (ahem chicken math), we knew we needed more roost space. Instead of building brackets, we up-cycled some large shelving brackets helping us set the bars approximately 14 inches away from the walls, ensuring the birds had plenty of space.

One thing we did have to do was to cut a small scrap of 2x4 to cover the metal part of the bracket to ensure the chickens were safe while roosting and not getting frost bitten in the cold months.

Not only were they easy to work with, they've held up great to the chickens use.

Chicken on roosting bar with heat lamp.
Does this chicken not look like Gru? LOL

Perch vs Roosting Bar

While they may sound like the same thing, and really, they are - a place for a chicken to sit and rest, they serve different functions based on material and where they are used.

Chickens do like to hop up and rest during the day, so it's important to have some seating area for them within the run. We have an old wooden ladder in our predator proof run that acts as a chicken perch. We also have an old log wedged in between tree trunks, and a couple of stumps to give them a bit more perching space during the day.

Chickens perched on a ladder.

Learn More About Chicken Keeping:


To keep your chickens happy and healthy, it's crucial to have proper roosting bars in place. Ensure they are higher than the nesting boxes and at least 2 feet off the ground to protect the birds from pests and bacteria. Use untreated wood or branches for roosting bars, avoid slippery materials like metal or plastic, and provide 8-10 inches of space per hen. Observing your chickens' behavior throughout the seasons helps ensure they have enough space and can comfortably adjust to temperature changes.

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Pinterest graphic for the best chicken roosts.


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