Can Chickens Climb Ladders? And How to Build The Right One!

When you’re designing a chicken coop, there are a few things that you need to consider. Keeping the coop off the ground will ensure that it stays cool, safe, and dry. But can chickens climb ladders? Will they be able to get in and out?

Can Chickens Climb Ladders?

Chickens can climb a ladder but will feel more comfortable climbing a solid plank (ramp) instead of an open ladder. It will take time and some training to get them to use a ladder, but they won’t have any trouble if you built it correctly.

Before you build a ladder for your chicken coop, ensure you’re building a ramp instead of a see through ladder. Chickens will fear climbing a ladder they can fall through. 

That said, some fearless chickens will climb a 14-foot ladder to roost in a tree, like in this video. 

Do Chickens Need Ladders?

Chickens have wings, and most of them can fly, but they can’t fly high or for long periods. For instance, the Speckled Sussex chicken can’t fly very high because of their weight and size.

This is why, if the opening of the coop is higher than 18 inches, you need to build a ramp to help your chickens access the enclosure quickly and easily. 

Some chickens are too heavy, too old, or have clipped wings. These will appreciate a ramp, even if the door is set lower than 18 inches. Some chickens can fly a little more, and they can access a door set 24 inches high or even higher. 

Some breeds don’t have flying feathers and won’t be able to fly even if the door isn’t placed too low. In this case, a ramp or a ladder is a must.

Chickens can easily climb ladders and find them extremely useful to access the coop conveniently. 

Some active chickens would still be able to get into the coop by jumping and flapping their wings, but others would appreciate the ladder. 

Will Chickens Climb Ladders?

do chickens need ladders
Chickens need a ladder if to climb up to their perch, enter an elevated coop, or access something high.

Chickens will climb ladders if they feel safe. Many chicken owners will build a ladder for chickens to roost high at night. Some chickens have used ladders to climb trees and roost. 

Like humans, chickens can balance themselves on a ladder, tree branch, etc. 

How to Build A Ladder for Your Chickens?

If you have an elevated coop, it is a good idea to build a ladder even if it’s not placed that high. Smaller chickens and the older ones that can’t fly will easily get into and out of the coop. 

Here are a few things to take into consideration.

The material of the ladder

Most people use wooden boards and plywood to build ramps and ladders for their chicken coops. You can build a plywood ramp and then reinforce it with 2 X 4 wooden boards to extend its life. Cover the ladder with paint or a protective finish to protect it from the elements. 

You should avoid other materials like plastic, which might be too slippery for your chickens. Metal boards are not suitable because they get too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Screw the ladder to the coop or use hinges to secure it. 

Build the Ladder According to the Correct Dimensions

The ladder width should be set according to the width of the coop itself. A door should be comfortable enough for the giant chickens, but not too big to let predators in or allow multiple chickens to leave the coop at the same time. 

The door’s width should be around 10 inches, which should also be the width of the ladder. Chickens might feel uncomfortable if they have to walk on a very narrow ladder. 

The ladder shouldn’t be that steep to make the chickens comfortable. Make sure that the angle is between 30 and 45 degrees to help the chickens move safely. 

If the ladder is too steep, you will need to place more cleats as the chickens can use them as stairs to provide the chickens with safety as they might slide and fall without them. 

Cleats should be placed 3 to 4 inches apart. Consider the size of your chickens. Smaller breeds might be too uncomfortable if the cleats are placed far away from each other. 

Another factor to consider is the size of the chicken coop. How far is it elevated off the ground? 

How to Encourage the Chickens to Use the Ladder

Some chickens wouldn’t be interested in using the ladder or ramp that you have installed, no matter how good it is. Even heavier chickens would still be interested in jumping out of and into the coop, which will be their preference. 

Chickens have individual personalities, and you can’t change their habits. However, the sooner you introduce your chickens to the ladder or ramp, the easier they will get used to it. 

Some chickens might get a little uncomfortable when they see the ladder and might avoid it altogether. However, you can help them overcome their fear by spreading some chicken feed along the ladder or ramp or keeping more at the top or bottom of it, depending on the direction your chickens are moving into. 

Put Feed On The Stairs

You can also place more feed on the cleats, so the chickens will start using them as stairs. Try giving them some of their favorite treats, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, chard, spinach, etc.

The goal is to get them excited to want to run up the ladder. Once they aren’t scared and are climbing it on their own, you can remove the treats.

Install A Ladder When Their Young

Younger chickens might be more accepting of the ladder than older birds born and raised without one. However, installing a ladder will never be a problem because you’ll never know when your chickens decide to use one. 

Gently Coax Them Up The Stairs

Have someone get inside the coop, and someone down at the bottom. Put the chicken on the ramp and shoo it gently towards the entrance. Eventually, your hen’s will start getting the hang of it by themselves. 

Start With A Small Ladder

Build a ladder to make it easier for them to climb up on the perch to roost. Your chickens will probably be more confident climbing a small ladder before they mount a bigger one. 

It may take time for your chickens to get used to using the ladder, but once they see the rest of the herd using it, they will eventually start using it. Some breeds will pick up more quickly than others, but don’t give up. 

Patience is the key when you’re training your chickens to do something new! Before you know it, they’ll start climbing the ladder every evening and going to bed on their own without any assistance. 

Wrap Up

A ladder or ramp might be necessary to safely and easily help chickens get in and out of the coop. 

Some chickens might not be able to use the ladder or be afraid of using it, but others will be glad you’ve installed it. 

Spreading chicken feed along the ladder, especially on the cleats, will encourage the chickens to use the ladder more often.