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Calculating roost or perch space per chicken in a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Scotty from BI, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]

    This is an aerial shot of my coop perches. I have a ladder system for access and have created a lower perch in front of the highest level. obviously, all the chickens want to perch at the highest level, but I have 11 Wyandottes ( heavy breed) There are 90 inches of upper perch which divides out to approx 8 inches per bird. I have read in several places that for large breed chickens, 10 to 12 inches per bird is desired to keep down squabbles and conflicts and reduce stress, especially in warmer months when they like to spread out.

    So my question is this; do the lower "ladder" rungs which are technically perches count as far as overall perch space or is it just the top level of perches that count when calculating perch space per bird? While, they all want to be on top will some just go to the lower level and sleep at night? Or will this create more stress as they battle it out for top "premium" perch space? Or do some birds just know they are lower in peck order and resign themselves to the lower rungs without fuss? My birds are only 10 weeks old now so, they will need more space as they mature and I am not sure if I should cull out a bird or two or if this set up will support them all without causing problems down the line. Thanks for your input.
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    You need about 1 linear foot per bird. More is better so they can spread out in warm weather.
     
  3. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Out Of The Brooder

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    So my question then is... are the lower perches or rungs considered in this formula or do you just consider the linear feet or inches on the highest rung where they all want to be?
     
  4. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm no expert for sure but I have a ladder perch and two 2X4X8's at the same height in my coop, and all 25 gals take to the 2X4's. There's enough room for them all on the 2X4's but it's only 16 linear feet total - they seem to fit comfortably up there. At times they'll all cram together in one corner for some reason even when it's not at all cold at night. When they do this they probably occupy about 9 linear feet total. These are full sized Barred Rocks and Leghorns I'm talking about. I've never seen any of them use the lower ladder perches but they will use it to get up to the roosts.So just my take, but I'd say only count them if all the birds can't physically cram together on the higher roosts.
     
  5. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    Your birds will utilize all available roosting bars, including the ones you did not intend to be roosts. Some hens will only allow certain birds to roost near them. Other flocks will try to all pile on to one bar. But you should always have enough for them all, even if they don't use it.
     
  6. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Out Of The Brooder

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    So I am still a little unclear. I have about 24 feet of linear perch space if you add all the ladders and intended perches ( which are only about 8 inches per bird by themselves). in total linear feet of perch I have way more than I need to accommodate my small flock of 11 birds, but what I am wondering is if they will compete for the most desirable higher perches to the point that they will create a stressful unhappy coop which might adversely effect production and cause injuries if they are knocking each other off the top perch or fighting over top space. This is what I am trying to avoid. I like the idea of having 11 birds (actually down from 12 when one started crowing). Since they are still young, I don't want to wait until combative behavior begins so I was hoping to learn by the experience of others. I will eliminate one or more birds if that is to be. But I would rather not, but I don't want a stressed out flock on the other hand. Any advice?
     
  7. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scotty - They're going to scrap over a variety of issues on a regular basis regardless, and the best roosting spot will probably be one of the things they compete for no matter how you have it set up. I wouldn't worry about it and just let them work it out. According to your info your birds won't be crowded at all and that's the most you can do to try to get the best production. Beyond that it's in the hands of the hens so I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  8. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks very much for your great advice. I think it is in my nature to worry to some extent. I feel responsible for their safety and welfare and want them and me to have the least stress possible with the maximum enjoyment and reward in their raising and tending.

    One more question comes to mind however. Considering that most people say that their chickens only occupy about a half or so of the 12 inches recommended which when multiplied by the total size of most perches leaves a lot of space unoccupied on most perches. Where did this 12 inches for large and 10 inch for small breeds even come from. It seems that 8 inches should be more than enough even for larger breeds assuming they are about equal in size and temperment . Unless I am missing something.
     
  9. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Beats the heck outa me. Probably some chicken engineer or something back in the day that never raised a single bird. Not to knock engineers - I have a lot of respect for them, but it's probably one of those rules of thumb. I guess if we followed that estimate we'd be guaranteed to have enough space if we had an entire flock of stuck-up birds that didn't want to rub shoulders with those birds lower in the pecking order, but I've learned if you have 10 birds you'll end up with 10 different personalities so I think it's a bit of an over-estimate. I also read to allow I think it was 10 square feet per bird in a coop/run but I have 256 square feet for 25 birds and they have way more than enough room even when they're being rambunctious. I'd be very comfortable putting another 5-7 birds in there. I wish I got a few more but I don't want to ruffle their feathers now that their universe is in order and my leghorns should start laying in the next week or so. I'm thinking along the same lines as you, that a happy hen is a productive hen. I even try not to BBQ chicken on the grill when they can see me.
     
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    The 1 foot 'rule' is basically to help ensure that each bird has enough room to maneuver up onto the roost and settle in without knocking other birds off. If you ever sit out by the coop in the evening and watch the flock 'go to roost', you will quickly understand why going smaller is not a good idea. Even in a peaceful, established flock there is a lot of pecking, shoving, and squabbling over who roosts where.
     

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