Roost Questions

megan13

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
87
3
41
Michigan
I'm building a new walk-in coop soon and I was wondering what the best kind of roost is. Round or flat? Which is more comfortable? I live in Michigan so it can get cold in the winter, but I haven't had a problem with toes freezing so far.
Should they all be the same level? And how high off the ground should it be? I have RIRs and Wyandottes.
 

ChickenMammX4

Songster
Mar 17, 2015
1,044
243
161
SW Ohio
After much research when adding our roost, we put in a 2 x 4, 4" side up. That way during the cold weather the chickens can sit on their feet. Made sense to me:)
 

redsix

Songster
5 Years
Feb 14, 2015
293
28
124
Virginia
I always figured round was more comfortable. I think I am going to go out and cut some straight tree limbs to use for roost poles. I am going to arrange them in a tier with the first one about 18 inches off the floor. They like to roost up high.
 

Blooie

Team Spina Bifida
6 Years
Feb 25, 2014
17,197
32,576
827
Northwestern Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
Unlike most birds, chickens are more comfortable "sitting" to roost rather than trying to maintain balance all night long with their toes curled. While they can do it, it's not nearly as comfortable for them. I have two round tree limbs. One ranges from 3" to 4" in diameter, the other is more like from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Rather than each limb being uniform in size from one end of it to the other, they vary. I also had 2x4s laid wide side up in the coop. When the chicks were younger, they practically lived on those branches out in the run, especially the one that swings. But as they got to their adult size, they very seldom use them any more. Now the new batch of chicks use them. That was enough to convince me that they prefer the wide, flat 2x4 rather than trying to grip a round roost and sleep. I'll continue to keep both branches and the board for the inside roost.
 

redsix

Songster
5 Years
Feb 14, 2015
293
28
124
Virginia
That's good to know. I have some 2" by 3"s that I may lay flat ways and use. I will probably put in at least one round roost as well. I wonder which type guineas prefer? I may end up getting a few of them.
 

Bryant Redhawk

Songster
May 11, 2015
310
175
156
Vilonia, AR. USA
The guineas like the round bark on branches we have and the chooks (chickens) prefer the flat side 2 x4's I have these set up as a leaning ladder with 14" between "rungs" the branches are the highest level but the guineas seem to keep them for themselves.

I also have 2 x 4's placed in front of the nesting boxes for perches and walk board.
 

megan13

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
87
3
41
Michigan
Thanks you guys. This is really helpful. I'll probally end up using a the flat part of a 2x4.
 
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megan13

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
87
3
41
Michigan
I heard perches that have multiple levels can lead to pecking order problems. Has anyone experisend that?
 

Bryant Redhawk

Songster
May 11, 2015
310
175
156
Vilonia, AR. USA
If you have guineas, they are going to take the highest ground, every time. I've never seen a flock that didn't have a pecking order, multi level roosts simply are another way to keep everyone in their proper order. Once the pecking order is set, everyone will know where their place is on the roost and the multi level roost may even help prevent malicious behavior at night.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,195
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
I heard perches that have multiple levels can lead to pecking order problems. Has anyone experisend that?

At bed time chickens are very much like children. If I could speak chicken I would expect to hear, "Mommy.... make Jonny stop" "Mommy.... Tim made a face at me" "Mommy.... Suzie took my pillow!" and so on. I would be more concerned if a flock didn't squabble and bicker at roosting time.

There is no perfect answer to the one level or multiple level question. Different breeds of chickens have different body types and/or different flying abilities. Keep that in mind. Also the heavy breeds can injure their feet and joints by flying (or jumping) down from a roost that is too tall. And a roost that is too low makes it difficult for you to get back there under it while putting your chickens at greater risk from night time predators. If you go with multi level roosts expect your alpha or top hens to roost in the nose bleed section. This is what they earned by climbing to the top of the pecking order. Mixed flocks make it even harder to chose what is best for all.

Whether you have one pole and only one bird or multiple poles and dozens of chickens, individual chickens will have preferences about where they sleep. The top or boss bird is like the 600 pound gorilla. It sleeps any dad gum place it wishes. This will remain true regardless if you have a single level or multiple levels of roost poles.

The 8 foot long landscaping timbers 6x4 with the 4 inch wide side curved or radiused work well for roost poles. They are a compromise between a flat pole and a round pole. Split or rip cut the pole length wise down the 6 inch or flat side and you'll have 16 linear feet of 4 inch by 3 inch roost pole. Cut to length and install with the curved or 4 inch side facing upwards.
 
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