I have some RIR and Barrocks (5 total).
Anyone care to talk about their roosts and function? Why do they like them? How high? DH and I are curious. We always think of chickens sitting in nesting boxes?? My chicks are now 9 weeks old.
You don't want a chicken sleeping in a nest at night. Birds poop at night and that makes a mess. Poop in the nest also means you will have poop covered eggs.
It is not good for a bird to sleep in their poop. They can get it matted into their feathers and just makes them look bad. Also matted poop is a fly attractent. Flies lay eggs that hatch out maggets that will start feeding. Once the poop is consumed the maggots will start on the bird.
The same problem can occur if you let them sleep on the ground.
Also, roosting does give them a little security from Rats and Mice. An unmoving, sleeping chicken can be bit multiple times at night when found by vermine.
Around here standard and bantam Cochins, silkies, and other low/non flyers have perches starting at 8", but have a ladder going up to 3 feet. The higher flyers have the same setup, but the bottom starts at 12" and goes to 6 feet.
You don't want your chickens sleeping in their nesting / laying boxes. The boxes should be used for laying only, otherwise you will have very soiled eggs. My flock is outside during the day and locked up at night in the hen house. They sleep on roosts and the poo falls into the litter. The roosts are 2x4s at 2' and 4' heights 8 - 10 " per chicken. All the chickies sleep on the topmost one. At 9 weeks, I would definately get them used to roosting. I gave my chicks a 1 1/2 in. x 1 1/2 in. wooden post when they were just a couple of weeks old. They knew how to roost instinctively. Once you move them into their coop they will continue to roost. Add fake eggs - I use golf balls - to their nesting boxes to encourage laying in the right place.
My little ladies started using thier perch at 3 weeks. They do not yet however roost. Even in thier new brooder they still perch for long periods of time during the day but do not yet roost at night.
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This is Salt & Pepper and Tender.
Hey MATT A NC, FYI, maggots will not eat live flesh. They,the flies, will however feed on the poop.
We provide roosts because that is the natural resting and sleeping position for birds.
If we ask them to compromise their instincts too much they will suffer, and they will reward us with fewer eggs.
Birds *lock* their feet around the perch at night, and derive much security from being able to do so.
Try to keep the roosts higher than the nest boxes as generally they will seek the highest place they can find to roost. The roost should not be so thin it hurts their feet, but neither too large for them to grip effectively. 1 1/2 to 3 inch is the range to go for, with no sharp edges.
My Rocks sleep on the top perch(about 5' high) in the back of the henhouse. These are older gals and the rest of the hens know to MOVE when they are heading up the ladder. The old girls are very particular about where they sleep.
Where they sleep, they have to come down the ladder. The younger ladies take flying leeps, so I keep the litter deep. That way they don't hurt their feet/legs. I have some FAT hens.
When I had RIRs they would sleep on the front perch which is at the same height but no ladder. They jumped from the back perch to it. This is where the young hens like to be, so they are first out of the house in the morning and first in the feeders.
I use natural perches. Straight tree limbs, or small trees, about 2-3" in diameter work perfect.
Barred Plymouth Rocks tend to be heavy birds, depending on the strain. I have a ladder type roost so they do not need to jump down, avoiding leg and foot injuries. They do not fly, for the most part, more jump than actually fly. Here is my roost: