Anyone let their chickens roost in the trees?

vancleaveterryDecember 20, 2007

I'm just curious if anyone allows their chickens to roost in the trees. I imagine the owls take some if they roost in a tree, but on the otherhand, if birds are not confined in a tight pen, catastrophic loses from minks, weasels, raccoons would be reduced. Everyone seems to have a story where a predator made it into a pen and killed most or all of the fowl.

I know some people are successful with peafowl roosting in the trees and Stoneunhinged knew of a feral flock of grey junglefowl crosses that were surviving five years later.

Love to hear your stories!

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We used to put our game chickens out on walks, turn them loose on farms around the country side. Course farms are getting rare now days. It was the best way to rear healthy birds, many chicks were lost but the survivors were generally good. Some of the adults would be lost too from differnt reasons, predators included. I no longer allow them to roost in trees as they are too valuable and I keep smaller numbers. It is a healthy way for them to live tho. As long as they live!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 7:33PM
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i can see people having problems from roosting in the trees, but i've had none so far. i have two that go to a tree at night and three that stay down.

i personally think that while it can be good to have them penned in, that like you said there is also an element of protection by having them able to flee more easily. if something comes along they're not trapped.

where do yours sleep?

my two that sleep in the tree go to the same part of one fence each day at the same time, then fly from there to the top of another fence then fly to a low branch of the tree. then with a hop skip and a jump they are up near the top.

they always hang out near the same area so i'm guessing they've not had attempted attacks there.

i had one "non flying" chicken once follow them up on the first fence. she considered for quite a while following them the rest of the way and then decided to get back down.

she and her pack sleep in a brushpile though sometimes in a chicken shed.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 7:34PM
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In my high school years, I had peafowl that slept in a large pinetree each night. They had no problems there. Someone saw my peafowl, and then gave me three silver pheasants and for a few months they hung around. The silvers were very tame and would come out of the woods and eat corn out of my hand. They slept in a medium sized water oak ...for a while.

I live in the deep south and aside from rounding them up for a hurricane, they ran loose.

The silvers disappeared one by one. A hen showed up a few hundred yards down the street and joined a neighbors big barnyard full of chickens, geese and ducks.

When I went to college I gave my peafowl to someone. Now I have 32 acres where I hope to try the ideas I find here.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 10:00PM
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I have heard of silvers hanging around when released. They will easily cross with chickens. One of my silver cocks got loose and hung around for quite a while then just walked away 1 day as I watched him go. not much I could do at that point!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 10:07PM
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We have about 30-Rhode Island Red hens in a coop with an enclosed run. They stay in the hen house or run all the time. Haven't lost one yet (5-yrs). These are our main egg layers.

We also have a few free range chickens that hang around the barn area. All of these chickens but 3 roost in the barn loft or rafters; they roost in the top of a Box Elder.

These chickens lay as well...but they run with 2 rosters and we try and leave their clutches alone. It is awesome seeing a hen lay on her eggs. Then when you least expect go to the barn to feed and there are baby chicks running everywhere.

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 3:36PM
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Mine free-range in our apple orchard and love to roost in the trees at night - they all do. The do have a hen house and a roost but they prefer the trees, apart from shutting them in at night they won't roost on their perches. I think it might be a bit healthier for them than sitting together along perches. I have noticed that they don;t sit together on the branches - they spread out. We don't have predators like you do though.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 1:35AM
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Buckeye... There are few sights as beautiful to me as a hen followed by her chicks in a free range setting.

Maiseynz... Apple trees aren't that tall, right? Do they choose the apple trees over a taller tree?

Merry Christmas!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 10:13PM
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I have 7 in a mixed flock, mine are like maiseynz, we have provided for them and other flocks have used the barn and perches, but this flock just love the trees, they all but one, roost in one cedar tree that has a low branch. I have two white rock and they are just beautiful up in the tree when I go out to them they coo to me and each other very peaceful and so sweet. When I talk to them they coo just alittle louder. I don't know why the one doesen't roost she is not heavier then the others and she walks around at roost time looking up at them like she wants to roost, then goes into the barn finally. I used to try to get them to roost in the barn but they like the tree. and knock on wood I haven't lost any to predators yet. but we have too small dogs that feel that it is their duty to watch over my hens and that helps tremendously.

see you soon


    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 3:33PM
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Hello Ingenue

Your flock chooses a cedar tree? That makes sense because most cedar trees are thick enough to provide some wind protection and maybe hide them a bit from owls.

I wonder if southern magnolias might make a good roost tree?

Good luck with your flock!


    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:14PM
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After a little while predators figure it out and you lose em. Mine went to owls.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:39AM
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I've had chickens that roosted in trees.At one point it was because the coop they were housed in was torn down and they refused to use the new one.I did have losses,to both coyotes and weather.The same thing happened when I closed them in at night though so I don't believe that it matters where birds roost.If a predator is going to get the birds it will regardless of where they are roosting.Sherry

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 11:53AM
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If you build a secure coop, you shouldn't lose birds to predators. Well.... ermine seem to get through anything.

I think chickens roosting unsecured are doomed- I've tried it enough times that I give up. Don't forget- chickens can't see in the dark. They are completely helpless in the dark.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 2:17AM
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Around here a chicken in the tree is there because that's where that owl or hawk left them. Mine are free range in the daylight but hen house at night.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 10:19PM
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A determined predator will do amazing things for a chicken dinner.I once had a skunk and raccoon in my coop at the same time.The skunk was in the rabbit side of the chicken house and the raccoon was helping itself to a chicken dinner.I know how the raccoon got in,he/she tore a hole in the roof.Not as sure about the skunk as there were no holes for it to enter through.Sherry

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 3:05PM
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I can't imagine that roosting in trees at night is safe at all, birds are very helpless at night and can't see anything. As long as you have a coop that is safe (not lifted up chicken wire bottoms, locked tight and all that, you shouldn't have any problems. We let ours out during the day to range, and put them to bed inside at night. I've lost too many guineas by letting them stay outside. Sometimes they won't come in, but it's better to keep them inside at night.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 10:10PM
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I have some 30 chickens, and are going to order 25 more from McMurray soon. DONT LET THEM ROOST OUTSIDE! My mom had about 15 Araucanas, and they roosted outside for about a week before a predator got all of them. Also remember that night is when most predators strike. Chickens are helpless enough in the day, and even then they would be no match for a wandering fox. At night, raccoons, foxes, owls, and weasels come out to hunt, and a tree full of chickens is like a giant shishkabob. The chickens would have no time to react, and even if they could, they would be no match for a predator. Keep them inside a totally enclosed coop, and they will probably be fine. Remember, there is strength in numbers.

In order to discourage roosting in trees, keep newly introduced chickens in the coop for two weeks. Don't even let them out during the day. This will teach them where home is.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 10:51AM
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I found "Stoneunhenged"s original post:

"I once crossed a grey junglefowl with an araucana and got these crazy hybrid chickens that would fly to the tops of trees and roost 100' up. They easily survived in the woods for years. ".....

....."The chain of events leading up to the creation of the grey junglefowl/chicken hyrbid also harbors some drama.

I had a pair of young grey junglefowl and intended to breed them. But, one night a raccoon broke into their pen and killed both birds. When I lifted the lifeless body of the hen, underneath her were two eggs. It was the first time she had laid. Doubting that they were fertile, I took them and put them under a broody chicken. From those eggs I got a male and female junglefowl. Not wanting to breed brother and sister, and having no other junglefowl, I put the cock bird in with some chickens, and he seemed perfectly content.

I was sure that the grey junglefowl could not produce young with the chickens --they're different species spaced far apart on the genetic tree. And so when the chicken hens laid eggs, I more or less ignored them when they got broody and sat on the eggs.

Then, the eggs started hatching. And what emerged was this weird pheasant-like chicken that could fly like a gamebird and vocalized with a bastardized croaking sound instead of the traditional roosters' crowing.

A whole flock of them went feral and, abandoning the plush digs of the chicken coop, took to the woods to live in freedom.

I sold the farm at about that time, and through a series of strange events, ended up buying it back about five years later.

When I returned to the farm I walked over to the now-abandoned chicken coops. And then, to my amazement, a flock of hybrid chickens descended from the trees in the woods and started pecking around as if no time had elapsed. They had survived --even thrived-- in the woods without human intervention for five years.

From that point on, my family called the flock "the Superchickens."

(Her farm is in North Florida.)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Guess this is a late response but I have a friend whose entire small flock was wiped out by a predator. I have had chickens for 14 years and lost many to predators no matter how diligent I was at confining them for safety. My current flock has been the safest by roosting in trees. I also have two Great Pyrenese who guard all the farm animals- goats, sheep, chickens, geese, ponies and pigs, as well as the cats and smaller dogs. It has been my best investment in predator prevention. I do lose some eggs, however, as the dogs and raccoons steal the eggs. Owls and hawks get the chicks although some have survived and are now egg layers. It is just nature, I guess.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:11PM
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The zone link isn't working. I live in southern NY near the NJ border in a little blue collar onion farming villagem, in an old farmhouse on 7/8 of an acre.

Our Yokohama rooster (a rescue from a neighbor who died) roosts in the big Spruce tree situated near the fence between the chicken run and the backyard. I am worried about his health during the winter weather. No one mentioned weather in this discussion. Any comments? Should we make him a create up in the tree? One of the Leghorn hens sits up there with him. The other 11 birds (all rescue) willinging march into the coop.
Thanks for any help!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 7:37PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

When I was growing up on the farm we had lots of chickens. No pen, just a place for them to lay their eggs. They roosted in the trees, roamed around the farm.

We never lost a chicken to any predators, except Mom! If a predator is near they will know. They will start clucking to warn others. If they are in the trees they are in a good position to escape! If it is a climber, they will wait until it starts climbing and fly to the ground and run like hell.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 3:48PM
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I won't let my chickens roost in a tree. Their run is open top and this area has two citrus trees. My six hens roosted in the trees one day when I got home too late to lock them in their coop. Next day, there was chicken feathers all over the backyard. One hen was dead in my yard and two at the neighbor's backyard. I believe racoons were able to pull the hens off the tree.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:35AM
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bakequery(Z6 SE Pa)

We have 8 chickens: 4 are Easter eggers (2 hens/2 roosters) that we got as chicks. We trained them to sleep in a coop. We adopted two barred Plymouth Rocks, and what we thought was another Speckled Sussex but who may in truth be a Jubilee Orpington. These hens were 2 months from laying when we got them. They lived in a pretty primitive setting, roosting on a chain link dog kennel. When we brought them to our house they switched to trees. When Hurricane Sandy came through we put them in the chicken coop. We had an owl hooting in the next maple tree over from the hens when they were tree roosting. I'm afraid to let them out again. We did wake up one morning to a raccoon running after one of our tree hens, yet another reason we would prefer they stay in the coop at night. Our final chicken, a true speckled Sussex, was in the hen house when her coop mate, a Buff Orpington, was taken out by a fox. She refused to go back in there after that so we had to bring her in until the new coop we were building was finished. Once the coop was finished we put her out there in it but every night she still asks to come in. We used to lay a 2X4 across a bathroom sink but honestly I got tired of cleaning up chicken poop. I've since ordered a chicken diaper. If she is still asking to come in when it arrives I will bring her in and let her sleep in the house. The things we do for our chickens!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:30PM
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My chickens roost in the barn near the ceiling where I put up limbs and boards for them to sit on. They go in and out on their own. Only one year did the flock choose to roost in a cedar tree. It was cooler there and they did fine. I don't think anything ever got one in the barn on their high roosts.

The greatest protection of all time is the Great Pyrenese dogs. They even chase crows out of the yard. But they go through a LOT of expensive dog food doing it. At one point I thought the dogs were eating eggs. It turned out that I had a black snake problem. Things got pretty exciting. Finally i had to kill the snakes, even though I hated to do it.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 6:03PM
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