Increasing flock, question about roosts

Chickiechickieboomboom

In the Brooder
Sep 27, 2019
31
43
36
Massachusetts
I currently have 4 Buff orpington hens. I want to increase my flock to 12 this fall, and I have been researching breeds that are cold hardy, heat tolerant, kind/gentle, and are all standard sized hens.
These all meet those guidelines:
Rhode island red
SL Wyandotte
Black australorp
Austra white
Easter egger
Barred rock
Dominique
Buff Brahma

Some prefer roosts between 2-4 feet, some prefer roosts between 4-6 feet.

My questions-
Can I just build one roost, 10' long, at 4' high, for all 12 hens? I'd add 2 ladders for them to climb up and down.

Is it ok to have all these different breeds in the same coop? Some are much bigger (buff brahma, orpingtons) than the others.

Thanks for any advice!
 

aart

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How high the roosts can depend on the size of coop and the available 'landing area' to avoid crash landings and ramps taking up too much space.
They don't carry tape measures :D so doesn't really matter how high the roosts are.
Put the roosts where you want them, ease of grabbing birds off roosts at night for exams cannot be over-appreciated.

Here's some tips about heights:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/coop-stack-up-how-high-stuff-works-well.73427/
 

igorsMistress

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Hi there. They can all be kept together without issue. In my experience breed plays no part in chicken attitude. They can be sweet or they can be jerks, it depends on the individual.

I would suggest a ramp rather than a ladder if you're going to have the roost that high. Or have plenty of space in front of the roost for them to fly off, at least 4 feet if not more. Many people here have mentioned observing their birds struggle with ladders. I took out my ramp and moved my roost lower to the ground so the flock can hop up and down without much risk for injury. As @aart mentions, height of the roost when taking birds off for examination is a factor. Having my roost lower is actually better for me too, I'm a shorty working with some heavy birds.

Yes, a single roost will work. They'll argue over the "best" spot like any other roost arrangement but it works fine. Good luck with your expansion!
 

Ridgerunner

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My sequencing on how to stack a coop is pretty similar to Aart's but I don't go by specific distances. First determine the height of the coop floor, including bedding. Then position the nests convenient for you. Some people like the nests pretty much at floor level, others like them at a height that they don't have to bend over to gather eggs. Not all of us have good backs. Then make the roosts noticeably higher than the nests. To me, you are important in this process. Make it convenient to you, the chickens can adjust.

Can I just build one roost, 10' long, at 4' high, for all 12 hens? I'd add 2 ladders for them to climb up and down.

Yes, you can, but as mentioned they need sufficient room to spread their wings and fly up and down without banging into things. The size and layout of your coop has something to say about this. The higher the roost the more clear area you need in front of the roost.

Mine have no problems flying up and down to my 5' high roots. Mine are similar to yours except I don't have Brahmas. Some of mine might use the top of a nest as a step getting up, some might fly up to the edge of my droppings board about 4' off the coop floor, but many flight straight up. Most fly straight down.

I do not feed mine a high protein diet and they forage for a fair amount of their feed so mine don't get those huge bodies some do. If you feed them in a way to get a large heavy body they can get big enough to hurt their legs getting down but it's never been an issue with mine. There are all kinds of differences in how we raise them and these differences can have an effect.

Is it ok to have all these different breeds in the same coop? Some are much bigger (buff brahma, orpingtons) than the others.

Yes. Some people keep Brahmas and bantams in the same flock without issues. Some people keep nothing but Brahmas and have issues. Individual personalities has a lot to do with it and the more room you have the better.
 

Chickiechickieboomboom

In the Brooder
Sep 27, 2019
31
43
36
Massachusetts
Thank you all, lots of good advice and suggestions! Now I'm rethinking everything 😃

I am considering a narrow coop, 4' wide x12' long x8' tall. I think there wouldn't be enough space for the hens to fly down safely from a high roost...what if I do a 3' high roost, with a poop tray at 1.5' high? Does this sound like the birds could safely hop down? They would only have about 2' of clearance before hitting the wall, since the coop would be 4' wide...i could add ramps, rather than ladders, on each end as well.
 

jolenesdad

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I’ve got super low stair-step roosts for my meat birds and you could easily step off of them. Like one is four inches off the shavings and the other 14-18 inches. Doesn’t matter, they all still try and fly off. It’s always a fly and always a long angle, I’ve never really seen a chicken just jump down from something.
 

wyoDreamer

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Nov 10, 2010
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Is it possible to put roosts across your coop instead of the long way. not sure if 2 4' roosts would make the birds happy, but 3 roosts would. Maybe make a ladder of the roosts so they can hop up from the lower ones to the higher ones.
10' for 12 birds may not be enough length.
 

Ridgerunner

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Instead of building what many consider a minimal sized coop for that number, especially in your climate where they might be stuck in there for extended periods of time, I suggest building bigger. A 6x12 would give them a lot more room to get down and make it easier for you to work in there. I don't know what style coop you plan, especially for the roof. Most standard building materials come in 4' and 8' dimensions so those are usually convenient to work with, but the cutoffs can often be used to build nests or such. You always want a roof to slope enough so water runs off instead of stands and in Massachusetts you want it strong enough to support snow and ice. A 6' width isn't bad for that, depending some on roof style. I also like overhangs which gives you an easy way to add ventilation up high without letting in rain and snow.

As long as the roosts are higher than anything you don't want them sleeping on you can make them any height you wish. As for the difference between the roosts and your droppings tray, you need enough room to be able to clean it. Since the droppings board/tray should stick out about a foot past the roosts they can use that as a step to get to the roosts.

I've seen baby chicks less than a week old and before they have wing feathers to fly jump up about a foot when the broody hen told them to. Many people would be surprised at how well older chickens can jump when they want to. Mine always spread their wings when they jump up or down and usually flap if it's very far so they need room for that. They fly up and they fly down, flying down breaks their fall. It's not like you jumping, you don't have wings.

You can build ramps, ladders, or steps. The edge of your dropping tray can be considered a step they can use if they want to. I did not provide anything specifically for mine to use to get to these 5' high roosts. I've seen an adult dual purpose rooster probably close to the size of your Brahma launch from this roost, fly forward about 7', turn 90 degrees to the left, fly out of the coop human door, and land in the run. My smaller hens do that regularly. They are not that helpless, but they do need room. I think making your coop at least 6' wide will pay big dividends for you in many ways.

Main Roosts.JPG
 
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