Increasing flock, question about roosts

Folly's place

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
I agree that bigger is always better in sizing the coop! You will have snow, and predators, and times when your flock will be inside for perhaps weeks at a time. Ten feet of roost is too little for twelve big birds! How will they have space to fly up there? Two roosts that long would be better!
How about an 8x12' coop space? much more comfortable and easier to manage and build.
Have you looked at the Woods coop? I'd love to have one! Second best is a large walk-in shed type, which I have, with additions. Having a roofed run is great to, so avoiding all that snow shoveling.
'Chicken math' has already struck, so plan for as large a coop as you can, in case it strikes again.

Wee Farmer Sarah

Free Ranging
Oct 8, 2018
North Central Massachusetts
All great advice @Chickiechickieboomboom. I would encourage you to go much bigger on the coop and with a sturdy covered run. Winter is quite harsh here in Central Massachusetts and even though I wrap the run in plastic sheeting to block out as much wind as possible, we get some wicked bad Nor'easters that still make it too windy for the chickens. On these really bad days, the chickens will spend most of their time inside the coop. If they are crowded, they get grumpy and bored. A covered run will allow for shade in the summer and a drier run altogether year round. Good luck on your coop build.


In the middle
Premium member
6 Years
Apr 9, 2013
My Coop
My Coop
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.

View attachment 2018366
I totally agree. My coop is 8x12 with plenty of litter on the coop floor for a soft landing; they use all of that space to hop/fly off the roost. If the big door is open some will fly out the door.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Thanks for all the advice! I am feeling very uncertain about my plan now 😃 maybe I will wait another year or two to expand my flock. I thought I had a solid plan but now I feel like it is a very flawed plan and I need to rethink the whole thing!
There's a lot to learn, and building that you won't have to re-do for years takes a lot of research/planning/building time. I spent about 6 months reading and planning and an entire summer building.


Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
However you end up deciding to build, figure 12" roost per bird (some say 10", some say 14-16", so 12" is a good in between). And roosts don't need to be high per se, just higher than nest boxes. Also realistically most of them will not use ramps or ladders to get down (and possibly won't use them to get up) so when calculating how much space they need to safely land, you need to figure they'll fly off at a 45 degree angle so however tall the roost bar is, that's how much space they'll need in front of it to safely land.

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
Well I had a dozen birds, in a 4 x 8 coop. Mine were BA, BO, EE, Production Red and a EE rooster. They did not have trouble either getting down or up. My roost ran on the diagonal from the back east corner to near the front west corner.

Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at 6.51.22 PM.png

Then I have smaller roosts going the opposite way. This way they can all roost at the same height, but move next to or away from each other. My roosts are about 4.5 feet off the ground. My nests are about 3 feet off the ground. I do have a platform (a small pallet) just below the nests. Chickens walk along it deciding which nest to lay in.

However, only occasionally do my birds stay in the coop for most of the day. I do have shelter, a wind block and a overhead shelter in the run.

Instead of 12, might start smaller - say 8, see how it goes then adjust.

Mrs K
Apr 5, 2019
Yellowstone County, Montana
Thanks for all the advice! I am feeling very uncertain about my plan now 😃 maybe I will wait another year or two to expand my flock. I thought I had a solid plan but now I feel like it is a very flawed plan and I need to rethink the whole thing!
You’re on the right path, and you’ve gotten excellent advice so far.

When in doubt, go bigger.


Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
Western Ohio
Good advice above.
The only comments I’ll add are the fact that a 4’ wide coop will create an issue you aren’t aware of yet...pecking order and submission/respect to those higher. A lower pecking order chicken needs to give a higher chicken the space they demand! So, they need to be able to avoid that higher pecking order bird with more space than 4’ would allow. If higher pecking order bird is in the middle of that 4’ width space, then the higher chicken is able to harass or reprimand the lower chicken very easily...the lower one can’t properly respect the other one’s space. So, even if you gave more space in the form of length, you could potentially have problems with the width. Certainly depends on temperaments, too.

Roost height: we have some large BJG, it is a good thing we have a ladder roost system, with the lowest roost about 12” above the ground. They do roost high, but step down the ladder to get off the lower roost. The others will fly down or jump down, but the heavy breeds do need some way to get closer to the ground before getting off.

it is exciting to plan for a new/improved coop, so keep going with the planning!


Nov 9, 2016
I have a flock of mixed breeds and ages and all roost together. We use 2x4's that are about 2.5 feet off the ground. I've read that 18 inches is the best height. They have a ramp to go up and down but most jump off. I keep them bedded in sand with it twice as deep under and around the roosts to cushion any jumpers. I have noticed that birds of the same breed hang together when we turn them out to free range in the field. And one or two of my older girls will sleep in the nesting box during the really cold nights.
Top Bottom