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What time do chickens go into the coop to roost?

It’s only natural that chicken keepers want to quickly establish a good routine when it comes to roosting time.

Without a routine, you can end up hanging around waiting for your chickens to go into the coop so you can shut the coop door to make sure they’re safe and secure from predators.

As chicken keepers, we’ve got to know how our chickens behave when they’re ready to roost and we have an established daily routine which works day in day out.

Chickens generally head into their coop to roost at dusk, adhering to their natural circadian rhythms. The diminishing light signals them to seek refuge from potential nighttime predators, ensuring they are safely perched on their roosting bars before it gets completely dark, thus prioritizing their security and rest.

Read on to find out more about when chickens go into the coop to roost along with signs to spot when their ready and how to establish a pre-roosting feeding routine.

How do chickens know when to roost?

If you have a bird table in your garden you’ve probably noticed that you don’t see any birds on the feeders as the light levels begin to drop and it gets closer to dark.

Garden birds will find their roosting spot early on to make sure they’re safe and out of reach of predators before it goes dark. Just like wild birds, chickens have the same built-in body clock when it comes to roosting time.

Chickens will instinctively know when it’s time to go into the coop to roost based on the light levels. They know that once it goes dark they won’t be able to find the coop which is their place of warmth and safety.

If your chickens are free-range and outside of the run, you’ll probably notice that they’ll start getting closer to their run and coop in the last hour before dark. This is because they’ll know it’s time to head in and they won’t want to be caught out in the dark.

image of ca chicken looking out of a coop

Establish chickens roosting routine

If your chickens are free-range and they have the potential to graze at some distance from the coop, it’s good to establish an evening feeding routine to get your chickens all back together and close by.

Feeding the chickens around an hour or half an hour before they’re due to come back to roost is a good way to develop a routine and they will know that if they come back up at this time they’ll get fed.

We feed our chickens with a layers pellet, corn and grain mix before they go into the coop so they can fill up their crops and digest their food as they roost. Feeding this way is also a good way to keep them warmer as they roost because the food digestion process raises their body temperature.

Once the chickens have fed they’ll steadily start making their way into the run and will then move into the coop once they’re ready to go in.

When the chickens are all in the run it’s a good chance to close the run and keep them enclosed and from going back out again. This way they’re in the safety of the run and can do a bit of last-minute scratching before bedtime.

If you follow this routine every day you should have no issues getting your chickens to come back to the coop. Using a call is also a really good way for them to recognize that it’s feeding time and time to come back to the coop.

You might find the following post helpful if you’re new to chicken keeping or are getting new chickens to help you establish a great routine from the outset:

7 ways to get your chickens back into the coop to roost at night

If your chickens don’t free-range and are already closed up in the run you shouldn’t have any issues in getting your chickens into the coop to roost. They should simply go into the coop as soon as it starts to go dark. It’s still good to have a pre-roosting feeding routine so your chickens are well fed and ready to roost.

Chicken roost time in summer or winter

The time that chickens go into roost and the time spent roosting will change throughout the year as the season’s change and days become longer and then shorter.

In the height of summer, chickens will be out much later and will also be ready to come out early in the morning, making the time spent roosting much shorter.

In winter a chickens day will become much shorter and they’ll be ready to go into the coop as early as 4-5 pm in December.

Obviously, this depends on where in the world you’re located, but the basic principle is a chicken will be ready to roost at dust and this actual time will range widely throughout the seasons.

An automatic coop door is a really good way to get around the issue of closing the coop door very late on or early on while you still may be working or out for the evening.

We like the Omlet Autodoor because it can be fitted to any coop and uses a light sensor to detect when the coop door should close or open, find out more via the link below:

Recommended coop accessories

What to do if chickens don’t come into roost at dark

I’m confident that if you have a good routine that you shouldn’t have any issues with your chickens returning to the coop to roost, but if you do have any problems, there could be a reason they’re not coming back.

Chickens can be sensitive creatures and if something isn’t quite right, they might be put off going into the coop.

The list below shows some of the potential reasons why your chickens aren’t coming back to roost and how to deal with them:

This article was first published on November 7, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets.

  1. The coop is very dirty – consider a deep clean.
  2. There’s a red mite infestation – red mites will bite chickens during the night and this can become very distressing for them.
  3. There’s a predator getting into the coop or run – predators can come in all shapes and sizes and can get through the smallest of gaps, making sure the run and coop are predator proof will fix this issue.
  4. The chickens don’t have the right places to roost – chickens like to roost on bars or in an elevated position, you can make great roosting bars from large sticks and planks of wood.

If your chickens don’t look like they’re coming back to the coop and it’s getting dark, try filling their feeder and shake it so they can hear the food while calling them at the same time.

Another good trick if you have chickens which are new to the coop is placing a light or torch inside so they can see where they’re going.

If all else fails, chickens will stay where they are once it goes dark, so they can be picked up and placed inside the coop.

Related posts

I hope this post has helped you to find out more about what time chickens go into the coop to roost and things you can do to establish a roosting routine. You might also find the following post helpful:

Omlet Universal Automatic Coop Door – the Review

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on November 7, 2020.

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Our recommended coop

Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 7, 2020.

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