Roost Questions

AmyJane725

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Feb 22, 2019
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I have some questions about roosts.

First off, I read this: "Height – Chicken roosting bars can be as low as a foot off the ground or as high as a foot or so from the ceiling. However, if you are going to make the roost much higher than two feet, staggering several roosts like stairs at varying heights will make it easier for the chickens to get up and down from the roost without injuring themselves. Bumblefoot (a staph infection of the foot and leg) is often caused by hard landings off a roost. Leave about 15″ headroom between the roosts to prevent those on the higher roosts from pooping on those roosting below them."

Now, I also read minimum 8" roosting space per chicken. I'm planning on 7 chickens, so that works out to a bare minimum of 4.66 ft roosting space. Let's say for arguments sake that I have one roosting bar 8 ft long. Clearly they should all be able to fit. Wouldn't having multiple roosts (some at lower elevations) just encourage them to fight/put lower ranking hens down on the lower bars? If I can fit them all on one bar would this be the best course of action?

Second question: I'm sure it depends on how high up the roost is, but how much space inside the coop do chickens need to fly/hop down from the roost? Is there any kind of formula? Like, if your roost is X feet in the air, Y feet of flying room is required?

Third question: Is 2 feet really the maximum height before you have to start helping them? The heaviest chicken I'm planning on having is probably going to be a BR hen (which should top out at 7.5 lbs)? I have heard that jumping down too far can cause an egg to break inside the chicken and cause problems...
 

cavemanrich

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Apr 6, 2014
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I don't know the dimensions of your coop.
It is good to have roost well below the ventilation openings to prevent drafts on chickens.
I would suggest in a six foot walkin coop to place roost at 3 feet. Place another roost 12 inches further from wall than first, and at 1/2 the height of top roost.
This way your heavier chickens and those lower on pecking order can use lower roost.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and :welcome
 

DobieLover

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Hello @AmyJane725 . I prefer to have all roosts at the same level to avoid fighting over the highest spot. Roosting time is pretty rough.
In general, you want as much space as possible for flying up to and jumping down from the roost. Obviously the higher the roost bar, the more space they need. If you have a bar that is 2 feet off the ground, I'd give 2 feet vertical clearance. If the roost is more than 2 feet off the ground, you might need a ramp for larger body birds. I have a Delaware that struggles to get up one foot. She is only 6 pounds so far.
I personally don't want to have roosts higher than 3 feet. Chickens like to jump down off the roosts and they make quite a loud thump when they land. You will want lots of thick soft litter to soften the blow on their legs and minimize the chance of foot injury. Little light bodied birds like leghorns or bantams wouldn't have a problem going even higher than 3 feet.
Good luck with your coop.
 

jthornton

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Aug 30, 2017
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If a roost is placed higher than a foot off whatever they will need to fly up and down. Chickens that can fly will fly almost vertical on the way up but on the way down fly around a 45° and the longer they have to fly the more room they need to stop once hitting the ground.

I feel the same way as @DobieLover about having all the roosts at one height. All my roosts are about a foot off the poop board (the floor).

I have 11' of roost in my coop and 8 Rhode Island Red hens. I've seen 7 roost on a 4' section of roost ( I have 3 roosts in a U shape and won't do that again).

Of course all the advice about roosts really depends on the type of chicken using it. Different breeds have different requirements...

JT
 

Trux

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Mar 26, 2018
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As jthornton said height of roost really depends on the breed. I have 3 roosts all different heights...1 ft....18 inches...and 2 1/2 ft.
my barred rocks and columbian wys love the high roost, and my orpingtons like the low roost, in fact that is the only roost they will use. The rest of the flock uses the other 2
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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Now, I also read minimum 8" roosting space per chicken. I'm planning on 7 chickens, so that works out to a bare minimum of 4.66 ft roosting space. Let's say for arguments sake that I have one roosting bar 8 ft long. Clearly they should all be able to fit. Wouldn't having multiple roosts (some at lower elevations) just encourage them to fight/put lower ranking hens down on the lower bars? If I can fit them all on one bar would this be the best course of action?
Minimum is when they can all step up to roost without opening wings at all,
if they need to fly up, more room is needed for the nightly RoostTimeRumble.
I too like roosts at one level, with poop boards for manure management and adds space to jostle for position.
 

Ridgerunner

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If I can fit them all on one bar would this be the best course of action?

People have been successfully doing this different ways for thousands of years. As you can see from the posts on here already some people like them all the same height, some like them staggered. There are some exceptions, there always are, but in general the chickens don't care nearly as much as people do.

In general the higher ranking chicken gets to sleep where they want. Usually this is the highest point available but not always. It's wherever they prefer. Things can get pretty active as they settle in each night. You'd think they'd learn where their spot is and just go there but no, let's have drama each night. Maybe I'll get lucky tonight and get to sleep somewhere better.

Some chickens can be brutes on the roost. For whatever reason some can brutally peck a lower ranking chicken as they settle in for the night. This is seldom a problem if they are all the same age or level of maturity, but it can often be a problem when you are integrating, especially when integrating younger chickens. I integrate a lot of younger chicks and built a separate roost lower than the main roosts and horizontally separated by a few feet to give the juveniles a safe place to go. It keeps them out of my nests. This is one exception but in your case with seven chickens all he same age, one 8' long roost should work great.

Second question: I'm sure it depends on how high up the roost is, but how much space inside the coop do chickens need to fly/hop down from the roost? Is there any kind of formula? Like, if your roost is X feet in the air, Y feet of flying room is required?

I don't have a formula but JT's 45 degrees works for me. The area needs to be kept clear of nests, feeders, waterers, or anything else they can bump into.

Third question: Is 2 feet really the maximum height before you have to start helping them?

With exceptions, not in my experience as long as they can spread their wings and fly. Silkies can't fly so you need to accommodate them if you have Silkies. My full-sized fowl have no trouble flying up to my 5' high roosts and back down. No leg injuries, no problems getting up or down. Some small coops don't have this kind of space so you may need ramps or intermediate steps like a ladder. Chickens heavy for their breed may need help. If you clip wings so they can't fly over a fence they may not be able to fly up to a roost. I've seen two week old chicks fly to the top of my nests, about 3 feet, then fly two feet vertically and 3 feet horizontally to get tio the roosts when Mama said "Get up here!" Just watching them these chicks could have easily gone a lot further if Mama told them to. Chickens can generally fly a lot better than people tend to give them credit.

I have heard that jumping down too far can cause an egg to break inside the chicken and cause problems..

I've never heard that or experienced that but I guess anything can happen.

The way I determine roost height is to determine coop floor level, including bedding. Then I put in the nests. Some people put nests on the floor and others put them high enough that they con't have to bend over to gather eggs. Do you have a sore back? Then put the roosts noticeably higher than the nests. If they are real close to the nests 6" might be enough. If they are across a fairly large coop 12" or more is probably better.

I like to put them as reasonably low as I can for the reasons mentioned earlier in this thread. I also do not want a cold breeze hitting them while they are on the roosts. I put my winter ventilation up high, under roof overhang. That way any breezes go over the chicken's backs when there is a breeze.

From what I read I think you are heading in the right direction and will do great. You are thinking and asking questions, both good things. But try to not let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of good enough. You can get ulcers that way. Chickens should be enjoyed, not cause suffering.
 

AmyJane725

Crowing
Feb 22, 2019
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From what I read I think you are heading in the right direction and will do great. You are thinking and asking questions, both good things. But try to not let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of good enough. You can get ulcers that way. Chickens should be enjoyed, not cause suffering.
Ain't that the truth. :gig It's just hard, because I really want to be a good chicken mom. I don't want one of them to get hurt because I didn't do enough research and had their home built incorrectly or something preventable like that.
 

AmyJane725

Crowing
Feb 22, 2019
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@Ridgerunner: Thank you for the clear answers to each section of my question. I appreciate it.

Thanks to everyone else as well. I value all your guys' input.

I don't know the dimensions of your coop.
Neither do I. I'm currently trying to decide if the bar will go across the width of the coop, or just go along on the of the long sides. My previous design (6x9) had the bar going across the width of the coop (6'), so there was plenty of jumping room. I'm now rethinking it and trying to make sure that the width is going to offer enough jump down space.

I personally don't want to have roosts higher than 3 feet. Chickens like to jump down off the roosts and they make quite a loud thump when they land. You will want lots of thick soft litter to soften the blow on their legs and minimize the chance of foot injury.
I am currently entertaining the idea of trying out the deep litter method, so this shouldn't be a problem. If that doesn't happen, I'm doing 6" deep litter.

Chickens that can fly will fly almost vertical on the way up but on the way down fly around a 45° and the longer they have to fly the more room they need to stop once hitting the ground.
Thank you for the angle. :bow I'll do some geometry.
 

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