Pullets won't use the roost

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BlueShadow, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't believe I have to ask this, but how do you teach chickens to roost?

    We have a chicken flock with 6 hens (mostly Barnevelders, one Buckeye). This fall, I added 3 Buckeye roosters in with them. I thought that after a couple days, the roosters would figure out the roost and join the hens at night. Nope.

    A month or so later, I added 7 Buckeye pullets and one Delaware pullet into the coop also. The Delaware quickly figured out the roost because it allows her to get away from the roosters. She gets picked on, being the only white girl with all the brown birds. But the Buckeyes decided to stick with their own and they roost on the floor.

    The roost is a little high - the lowest point is maybe 24 inches off the floor - but we have never had birds have trouble getting up there before. I did put a straw bale as a "step" but that didn't help. We tried going out after dark and picking up all the pullets and roosters and putting them on the roost, but by the time we got all 10 birds on the roost, the first 5 had left and the others followed. What else can I try to get these birds on the roost at night?

    I tried to tell myself, "I don't care where they roost" but now that its winter, they spend a LOT more time inside. The coop floor isn't really that dirty, it has a thick layer of straw and we add fresh straw occasionally, but because they never leave the floor, some of the pullets are getting dirty feet. I'm getting tired of catching them to clean their feet. What else can I do?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  2. WyoChickies

    WyoChickies Out Of The Brooder

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    I just let them figure it out. It took them a while- but eventually they got it.
     
  3. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The roosters have been in the coop 4 months, the pullets 3 months. Surely they should have figured it out by now?
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Chickens often have poop on their feet.
    I swear, one poops and another rushes right over to step in it...
    ...not really, butt....haha!

    How big is your coop in feet by feet?
    How long is your roost in feet?
    Pics of interior of coop might help.

    You could have a crowding and/or yet to be fully integrated situation going on.
    Why 3 cockbirds for only 14 females....are the pullets laying yet?
    Best time to 'put them on the roost' is well after dark...with a very dim headlight so they can't see to get down.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  5. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will have to get back to you on this, yes you are right, pictures would help. Its not a traditional roost design, its probably 7 feet long and has multiple roosts on it. PLENTY of space. I am bad with estimating size, I would guess the coop is about 15 x 15 feet, but may be larger than that.

    Most of the pullets are starting to lay now. We are down to 2 roosters now, one went in the soup pot. We were waiting until I decided which 2 I wanted to keep. The roosters are from the same hatch as the pullets.

    Good point about the dark, we may have been using too much light to put them on the roost.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  7. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was close, the coop is 14 x 19 feet. This photo shows the roost, most of the space not shown is open floor with feeder, waterer, a different style nest box, etc.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That is a lot of roosting space...only thing I can think is that the roosts might be too thin to be comfortable.
    Can't quite tell what sized lumber they are, but they look smaller than 2x4...more like 1x.
    I dunno tho<shrugs> fickle chickens.
     
  9. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The lumber is 2x2.

    I am not sure that the pullets have ever (voluntarily) been on the roost, even during the day to check it out. Not that I have ever seen, anyway.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That should work......hard to answer the 'why'...pecking order on the subflock would be my guess.
    It certainley isn't too high.
    Could put a barrier up across that whole roost to block line of sight.
    Or just wait, my pullet subflocks don't roost on main roosts until after they are laying, then work their way into the main pecking order.
     

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