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Chickens trying to roost high. How high is too high?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by off-grid hen, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Songster

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I have a woods style coop with 16 chickens, 8 weeks old. The high section where the windows are is about 6.5 feet tall at the tallest point. We had 3 roosting boards for when they were ready to roost. They are stairstepped from 2 feet to about 4.5 ft up. We put up the high one for the leghorns, who like to roost up high. Well, it seems like some of all my breeds like to roost up high. (See sig)

    Up until last night, About half the chickens still piled in the corner on the floor, while the rest were on the highest roosting bar. From the highest roosting bar, they can see the 2-inch lip of the windowsill, and would fly up to try and roost up there, realize that they couldn't stay up there with one foot gripping the ledge, then fly back down. *thud* The girls are getting big. [​IMG]

    Thinking this was incredibly dangerous, Hubby ended up putting a board at the same level of the windowsill which is just under 6 feet high. It is the same distance apart as the other roosts. The other roosts are still there so they can jump down if they want. Maybe we'll build a ramp with little ladder rungs.

    Last night when I went to lock the girls up, they were ALL up there on the 6 ft roost squished together in a 3 ft wide spot on the roost (hooray, they're all roosting!).

    Since I've never raised chickens before, I wonder if - as they get heavier, will they roost on the lower roosts to each breed's capability due to full grown weight?

    Am I risking little broken legs? I hear that some people's chickens are roosting way up in barn rafters, and I get a general sense that they will be fine. This 24" or 36" roost height just ain't gonna work for my girls, they will find their way to the precarious perch up in the windows.

    Also- with this style coop, will the roosting up high conserve heat better in the winter?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

  2. Mine that are a year old all roost up in the rafters. My DH that was so proud of his roosts they only use as stepping stones. Go figure. Silly chickens. You will be fine [​IMG]
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Songster

    Chickens will roost as high as you allow and they are able to physically reach. The problem is rhey are not graceful and are at risk of injury when jumping down in a confined area and the heavier they are the more momentum get have to deal with aslo if more than one jump at the same time, they can collide and you wind up with two possible injuries. Suggest you try to keep the roost at about 4 ft. with plenty of room for each bird andkeep the roost higher than the nest boxes to stay as injury free as possible.
  4. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    My roosts are 7-8 feet up--the hens reach them via a ladder, which can also be used as a roost but rarely is. The like being up high--when my Clarice was a stray (abandoned by the neighbors and it took us months to finally catch her!) she roosted 10+ feet up in trees. In the a.m. they jump down directly from the roosts to the ground and in 7 years have never had a problem! [​IMG]


    Mar 15, 2010
    Our top roost is about 10-12 ft and that is where they all roost. They do not like being lower, it is safety to them.
  6. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    If your breeds are of leghorn, minorca, lakenvelder, easter egger variety, in other words the light weight variety I wouldn't worry to much about them roosting 6 feet up. If you have the heavier breeds like the RIR, wyondottes etc. I'd limit it to no more than 4 feet if possible. The biggest issue is bumble foot from jumping off of high roosts.
    I know folks have had chickens break legs, wings etc from jumping/flying off of high roosts. To me the issue with high roosts is that most coops to do provide a large enough landing strip. For example, if you've ever seen a chicken fly off a 6 foot high fence they generally don't just go straight down they "sail" out. This gives them more wing flaps and slows their decent.
    I use to have large barn and some of my heavy breeds use to roost in the rafters that were 14 feet off the ground. They would fly to this and then to that to get up there but they flew off in one big step. But they had more than enough room to fly down and flap like crazy to slow their decent, never had an issue with injuries.
    Those are my thoughts.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

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