Effort to design roost system that reduces intrabrood social strife

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by centrarchid, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    This production season I intend to put up roosts (multiple) in a row that will be used by groups / broods differing in age by approximately 28 days. Each roost will have a separate access point and roof. Broods will be introduced to roost when about 28 days old just before they can be expected to roost on horizontal pole. I have a reliable way to get birds imprinted on roost so as to prevent everyones favorite problem of having birds roosting all over place on ground. Logic is to prevent broods of older birds from interfering with younger birds acquiring roost (interbrood strife). I have a dog now but he will not protect against heavy rain and cold summmer nights nor will he be able to keep every single oppossum out that is interested in a midnight chicken snack. Social strife I am concerned with is within a brood (intrabrood) were last individuals going to roost poles have a hard time finding an unoccupied spot. Goal is to get spots on roost poles filled with minimal fuss in process. Excess fuss reduces sensitivity of my alarm system.

    Roost poles roughly 8 feet above ground are above a platform roughly 2 feet below (6 feet above ground). Birds have to fly two legs (each 3 feet) to get from ground to platform. Except for starting point on ground, a bamboo pole serves as launch and landing point for each leg. Platform is porous to allow feces to fall onto tarp on ground for collection. I want to poo for garden.

    What eludes me is how much roost pole length is needed per bird and if some pattern other than parallel can be used to promote late comers having access to roosting spots. Any ideas about how roost poles might be arranged? I wish to keep them in same plane so birds do not crap on each other.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    The following image is of a constructed day roost like several that will be deployed in pasture to be used by free ranged juveniles.
    [​IMG]

    Behind structure is a stand of sweet sumac which provides very effective day roost when canopy is closed. The sumac stand obstructs view of arial predators (hawks) and provides cover from direct sunlight and rain. During summer birds spend the hottest hours of day under this stuff. Problem with best plant stands for day roost is that multiple years required for them to become established.


    The contructed version can be made in minutes and moved as area becomes over grazed.

    Both types of day roosts enable birds to see surrounding giving ample time to produce alarm calls giving dog time to react. They also make it so hawk forced to work on ground if it enters. A hen with chicks or motivated rooster then has all the advantages in a scrap and dog can also rush after predator. Added benefit if I can see what is going on with binnoculars when day roost properly oriented.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Most recent version of remote roost. Birds found it and began to use within a week. They moved from the old rickety crap about 100 feet away and the front porch of roughly the same distance. I still do not know what they consider qualities of a good roost because this thing beat out everything except the garage. Now that it is gettng warm, it beats even the garage.

    [​IMG]

    Access is from below. When birds launch from ground a 7 foot vertical flight is required. No effort at all for American games and red jungle fowl but a challenge for dominique hen and 7-week old game x dominique chick. For short-term, access made easier by leaning a straw bail against support post. Another trick was to place a rope below for chicks to land on.

    [​IMG]

    Presently, a single 2 x 4 serves as roost pole. This contraption or a larger version of it will be required to support between 36 and 72 birds. Roost pole a shown can support only about 10. Next will be exploring different roost pole configurations to enable access of more birds such that they will not knock each other or simply fall out. Part of falling out with last trial seems to have due to too little ventilation. Presently birds roost well away from ends of roost pole but they will be tempted to roost near ends when it gets hotter presenting an unacceptable risk predation by great horned owl. This will be remedied.

    [​IMG]

    Despite not being beyond jumping range to ground predators like coyotes and foxes, ground predators no longer present a major threat. Scoob (dog) has that largely under control.


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Fritatta

    Fritatta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks for the information. I am looking to build a remote roost myself.

    Your dog, did you train him? Or was he just a natural? does he sleep outside?
     
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    You could put two pallets (or more) with long roost poles jutting out from them in 4 directions (all the while discouraging them to roost on the very ends). They are heavy, though, and would need to be on VERY stable legs.

    The entry point to the roost would be either space in between the pallets, or the long roost poles.
    This is just a thought.

    My chickens LOVE to roost on pallets during the day. See my thread on The Pallet Hawk Shelter if you are interested.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=505464&p=1
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Training in process, imprinting on chickens started when he was 6 weeks old. Training required since he is bred to hunt cats and birds. Sleeps in and out at same time, we leave front door open most of time. Will transition to fulltime outside soon.

    He is developing into excellent guard dog for house. Also responds well to chickens giving alarm. Still likes to go chicken bowling.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Just about got remote roost system figured out. Cohorts / broods are hatched at 28-day intervals, brooded indoors for 28 days, tranferred to a chicken tractor where they are confined for 2 weeks and allowed to free range for 2 weeks with tractor serving as roost. Chicks are imprinted on box laying on its side while in brooder and chicken tractor so that it can be moved in 10 foot increments from tractor to nearest available remote roost. Chicks stay with box as it moves. When box reaches roost it is elevated at 1 foot increments until it inside remote roost. Once chicks reaching remote roost the box is removed.

    Goal is to have 72 birds per remote roost. What have found is older broods do not allow younger birds to use same remote roost. Since as many as four cohorts will be on ground at any time, four remote roosts are required.


    First cohort made up of 18 birds in remote roost A.
    [​IMG]

    Second and third cohorts made up of 13 and 11 birds respectively, in remote roost B.
    [​IMG]

    Fourth cohort made up of 36 chicks in chicken tractor with box.
    [​IMG]

    Next problem to figure is how far apart remote roost need to be to prevent potential drift or birds not being able find their respective roost and roosting in unprotected locations. I am also playing with having remote roost used as mobile cover as box and roost moved together towards support post.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I can keep at least four cohorts of chickens roosting separately using my flemsy design. The roost can be as close as 10 feet apart, possibly closer with fidelity to roost remaining very high and reinforced by members of one cohort excluding any birds drifting from another. Design will have to be reinforced big time and elevated another 3 feet to keep most baddies from accessing from ground. All this makes guarding by dog and inspection by me easy.

    Interesting side note deals with a dominique x California grey that owing to bumb leg and approaching mature weight can no longer fly into remote roost provided. For last week she has taken to roosting on my motorcycle. She can find it even when I move bike 50 feet and and place behind car. Her low roost location cost her the indignity of having Scoob sniff her butt multiple times during coarse of night.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    This version is prettier, stronger and about 1.5 five feet higher above ground. It also about 25% less expensive to make owing to less material (wire fencing and wooden poles). It should be able to hold 36 full adult dominques if last animals to come up have a way to get to a roost point. Access is still a bottleneck. Presently ventillation is excellent. Winterizing will be easy.

    Front view.
    [​IMG]

    Side view.
    [​IMG]

    Next year I will have eight of these things scattered about a 6 acre pasture. Small-bushy trees with briars around them will be near each to provide a shaded day roost that provides a measure of protection from hawks.
     
  10. bertman

    bertman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for this info, centrarchid. I'll be digesting it for a while before I ask stupid questions.

    Love your LGD, Scoob.

    Does he take his guard dog duties seriously, or is he easily distracted?
     

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