My husband and I bought 6 day old chicks last March. All of them grew to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately today we found one chicken, Ruby, dead in the bottom of the coop, around the area where they fly down from the perch. She was happily perching last night and showed to have a twisted neck but no other signs or symptoms of infection or disease. We are so sad. We have an indoor coop that is open to an outdoor run, and we let them free range in the yard most days. We live in a moderate climate so have no concerns about heat or cold. The indoor part of the coop is about 4 feet by 5 feet. The nesting boxes are about 18 inches off the ground on one side of the coop. Initially my husband had put up different perch heights up to about 7 feet tall. Of course they all scrunched together on the 7 footer and seemed distressed getting up and down. Also one got bumblefoot. So we lowered that highest perch to be about 6 feet. That way they had more head room but were still protected from the window drafts. Today we felt like maybe Ruby died from hitting something while flying down from the perch. They always try to fly out the opening to the run from the high perch and seem a little distressed by this. So today my husband changed the perch to be about 4 feet off the ground, with no other lower perch but they can hop on the nearby nesting boxes to get up. We watched them get up to the perch and they hopped up but all seemed very confused that there was no higher perch and a couple of them flew up to the top of the coop flapping their wings looking for a higher perch. This was distressing to us! And they could obviously be hurt by this. Will they adjust and remember tomorrow that there is no higher perch?! How long will it take them to adjust to the lower perch? Is it safer for them to be on a lower perch although now they are level with one of the windows?! Do we need to provide a step ladder or some other lower perch so they can easily fly up?! Although they seem to like to climb up they always seem to fly down in one swoop and we are concerned that they can do this safely. The bottom of the coop is cement but has a few inches of straw. Thank you all for your advice on our cute birds, we love them so and want to do what is best for them.
Monica and Derek