Perch width, what’s the science?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Shadrach, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    I’ve often read that perches for chickens should be two inches wide or more.
    Some people recommend four inches.
    It’s also recommended that the perches should be flat.
    When the chickens here go up a tree, they don’t choose to roost on the wide branches, they seem to prefer branches that they can curl their toes around; nothing like four inches wide and usually under two.
    When chickens walk, they don’t bend their toes much.
    When chickens scratch the ground they don’t bend their toes much either,
    The chickens front toes have two joints and the back, a single joint. What are these joints for if not to grip a perch? Most of the actions I see chickens do with their feet don’t require the degree of articulation that they have available.
    I’ve read that flat wide perches reduce the occurrences of bumble foot, but I thought bumble foot was caused by repeated high force impact sometimes received by jumping on perches placed too high, nothing to do with the perches width, or shape.
    I’ve also read that wide perches help keep the chickens foot warm, but I get chickens who have sat on eggs with aggravated scaly mite because the feet don’t receive adequate ventilation and stay damp and warm.
    So, why do people recommend wide perches? Is there any science behind these recommendations?

    I’ve posted this in this section because if the recommendations are wrong and there is no science behind them then given time we’ll end up with flat footed chickens.
     
  2. Pugsabi

    Pugsabi Free Ranging

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    Mine don't seem to care either way, but I know a lot of the people, who recommend a flat perch, live where it gets super cold in the winter and claim it keeps their birds from getting frostbite.
     
  3. True Patriot

    True Patriot Sanity is subjective

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    I use 2x4 perches. 2" edge up. Partly chosen for strength in a 8 foot span. (I tend to lean on them when cleaning) Partly chosen of convenience, I had them on hand. I have them in with a 6 w/o mixed flock. They sit with toes over the edge, but not necessarily curled to grip. More relaxed, like the curl of your hand when it relaxes naturally. I wonder if the flat area helps with balance? They seem quite comfortable to me.
     
  4. True Patriot

    True Patriot Sanity is subjective

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    The theory behind the wide perches in cold weather is when they squat down for the night more of the foot and toes are covered by their feathers, insulating the feet more against the cold. Wood perches are suggested since wood is a rather poor conductor and will reduce heat loss through the bottom of the foot.
    That's the basis for the method. In theory it's valid. I can't verify personally, my weather is mild in the winter, rarely dropping below freezing.
     
  5. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    I would say that if the temperature in the coop gets low enough for a chicken to get frostbite in its toes then there are problems with the coop design. If the perch is in line with a cold air flow for example then coop ventilation needs looking at.
    How much extra warmth can be gained from using a flat board? Doesn't the chicken just hunch down lower to keep its feet warm.?
     
  6. Pugsabi

    Pugsabi Free Ranging

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    :confused: I'm not really sure. That's just what I've heard. I live in Texas so I usually have the opposite problem.
     
  7. Melky

    Melky Crowing

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    I don’t have attached articles to share but my Hatchery and place of purchase advised me on two inch roosting bars so they can grip for balance. I had a kit for them outside so they came that way. As I raised them from a one day old I was advised to start small and work my way up in size so I did. I started with 1/2 inch stick in brooder. Once accomplished moved them up to 5 inch high one inch bar.Then when in hen house a two inch bar at least 2 feet or more high. These naturally provide a comfortable way to grip and roost. I have had my hens since one day olds. My roosting bars are flat on top with rounded corners and flat on bottom for comfort. I do not have problems with brumble foot. Mine are also painted and varnished. Any rough spots were smoothed prior with sandpaper since made of wood. I have had no bug infestations but use poultry protector in coop can also spray under wings and around vent as a preventative as recommended on the bottle after several weeks of age. I also use food grade DE to prevent bug infestations sprayed around coop and hen house with cleanings every 1-2 weeks. If made homemade dust bath should put food grade DE in it to prevent bugs. Good luck!
     
  8. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    I use the metric equivalent of 2x2. I've used this because of what I've read. I'm wondering now if what I've read has any science behind it, or is it just one of those recommendations that has become so common that it is accepted as the right way to make perches?
    Looking at a chickens foot and how they perch in trees my feeling is that a round perch, or even oval, might be better for the chickens foot. As you write, with wide boards they tend to curl their toes over the front edge and that fits in with my observations.
     
  9. Pugsabi

    Pugsabi Free Ranging

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  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    I use round perches when going fancy for the birds. When going cheap and trying to cut down on my effort the dimensional lumber is used. The 2 x 4's are used when larger numbers of larger birds will use it like in egg collection pens. Longer 1 x 2's are used for single birds in pens that are moved about like tractors conserve on weight. The same single birds roost outside year round and sometimes must deal with considerable wind and freezing rain making perching on larger surfaces more difficult.
     

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