The perch experiment

I'm just at the point of setting up roosting bars in my coop, and this was extremely helpful. (I'm going to use 2x4s with the wide side up, as they don't from this seem to have a preference, and the wide side up might help keep the feet warmer in cold weather.)

Excellent, thorough, approach to figuring out the best way to do things.
I think it's really unique how you paid such close attention to your chickens' individual preferences and use variables in figuring out your test.
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i often wondered all that, i have a 3x2 on its flat side and in front of that at the same height a 2x1 on its flat side, they prefer the fatter one and use the front one to overtake and get in their preferred spots, pecking order, occasionally they step forward onto the front one when they have positioned their order and sleep there with their tails resting on the back one. I have also lowed my roosts due to having a large breed, Australorps.
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I tried different perches too. Mine preferred the flat side of a 2x4 and they filled up the top perch first. Filling the center of the perch first... then the outside edges. Once it was full the others went to the 2nd perch... filling the center first. One thing I did notice was the chickens seemed to pick the same spot every night. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the experiment and article post about perch materials and styles. Very informative!
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Most excellent research... As your birds age and gain a little weight you might give this test a quick try again.

I use two by three boards myself layed flat. three Tiers because I had heavy birds... and not To a one they all made their way up to the top perch... Except one hen who couldnt do it. All flew down to get off the Top perch except her. She worked her way down to the lower perch and hopped on to a dog crate then down.

Have you tested to see how far they fly to get off the perches. Mine Hit the ground at about ten feet. I kept bedding there so they didnt injure their feet.

Oh and I had Large fowl Welsummers. The roos stood about knee height. The hens were Sturdy Shanked and a bit shorter.

deb
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Thank you for your detailed experiment. I am getting ready to install a longer perch and was wondering what the girls might prefer. Your post has helped me decide!
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Great article. I can tell a lot of work was out into it. Safe travels.
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We are in the process of building coops and I was wondering what size to use for my roosts. This gave me some great insight and ideas. Thank you.
Nice! So many options for perches!

Based on my recent experience detailed in this thread:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/what-is-this-scabby-enlarged-thing-on-roos-chest.1292202/
I would caution that a large and heavy chicken may not do as well on a wide perch. My Black Jersey Giant cockerel (almost 11lbs at 11 months old and not full grown yet) developed a very bad and infected breast blister from our flat side up 2x4 roost bars. Read the link for the details, however, in speaking with the breeder of the BJG (decades of experience), he indicated the wide roosts caused the problem, and given the size of this big cockerel, I would have to agree. We have since turned the roost bars to the narrow side (pics in the thread), and it is apparent that the chickens are still covering their feet just fine, and that their keel bone is not resting on the roost bar, causing irritation. Had we seen any problems with the narrow side up, we would likely look for branches to use, and we would remove the bark to reduce potential mite or bug hidey-holes.
I appreciate the well thought out experiments, and your conclusions - especially the caveats. Well done.
This is a great studt. Ir will be really helpful to people as they're trying to determine what they should use for roost material. It sounds like PVC is definitely one to avoid.

Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Appreciate the thought and method you used with this experiment. Good job!
This was probably THE best thing I have ever read on the internet EVER. So fascinating!
i really liked reading this. I’d not given thought to chickens caring so much about their roosts. Thank you for doing this experiment and for sharing the results.
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Nice job w/ your experiment. I enjoyed reading your blog on the test.
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This is a very neat experiment. I can’t wait to see the rest!
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Enjoyed this completely. Very good writing structure also (makes my happy). I’m in process of planning coop build to accommodate larger flock & now I’m confident that I’ll go with the flat-up 2x4 perch. In my current smaller coop, I used the largest dowel avail at Home Depot and literally saw my grown chickens having trouble gripping it. My solution was to fully wrap it in sport tape (used to wrap elbows, etc). I wrapped it using 4 rolls of $5 tape. Dowel cost $8; Tape cover cost $20. Yep, that’s a live & learn.
Thank you for documenting & sharing!
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