Roost thickness and toe warmth

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
2,092
5,339
357
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
There's a lot of talk and opinions on the ideal roost type - board vs. branch, size/diameter, flat side up vs. not, etc. and the reasoning usually revolves around toe warmth winter - whether the body feathers will cover the toes and keep them warm when the chicken sits down.

This all makes sense in theory, but I'd never really thought about, or checked, what it actually looks like in practice. The anatomy of where the feathers go relative to the toes. I imagine this will depend on the breed and the degree of fluffiness. I decided to test it out on my chickens, which conveniently happen to be of two breeds with very different degrees of fluffiness - English Orpingtons that look like giant fluff balls, and Barnevelders that are small and have minimal fluff, looking more like pigeons. I have a chicken cam with night vision in the coop, so I checked on them while roosting, took pictures and examined their feet closely (for science!)

What I found is that I couldn't see any toes on any bird, regardless of how fluffy it is! My roosts are thick branches, but there's so much of the body overhanging the feet that I can't imagine toes showing even if this was a narrow roost. The fluffier birds especially, look like they're sagging and spilling over the roost on all sides, and it even looks like the roost is inserted in the middle of a giant round cotton ball! :lau Even with the skinnier and slicker Barnevelders, there's still a lot of body overlapping the feet. They'd need to be sitting on bean poles and going through a massive molt to show any toes at all.

So my unscientific science conclusion is that roost type probably matters more in terms of comfort (no sharp corners to dig into their feet) than in terms of warmth. If anybody has pictures of toes showing underneath the body, post them and prove me wrong! 😁

Cotton ball spilling over the roost:
1604069397129.png


Cotton ball with roost going through the middle, in a ridiculous-looking butt-up sleeping position:
1604069460713.png


Non-fluffy bird not showing toes, next to some more saggy cotton balls:
1604069531654.png
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
22,201
35,183
1,036
southern Michigan
We've had chickens since 1993 (1992?) including Belgian d 'Uccles, other bantams, and standard sized birds of many breed types (no Modern Games though), all roosting on either branches, saplings, or rafters, unheated.
ONE bird, a Chantecler rooster, had frost bitten toes last spring. ONE, out of dozens of birds, and all those years. I have no idea how he managed to have this disaster, but he's the only one ever here.
Nobody roosts on flat boards as some think are necessary.
Mine look a lot like @K0k0shka's birds when roosting at night too.
Mary
 

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
2,092
5,339
357
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
We've had chickens since 1993 (1992?) including Belgian d 'Uccles, other bantams, and standard sized birds of many breed types (no Modern Games though), all roosting on either branches, saplings, or rafters, unheated.
ONE bird, a Chantecler rooster, had frost bitten toes last spring. ONE, out of dozens of birds, and all those years. I have no idea how he managed to have this disaster, but he's the only one ever here.
Nobody roosts on flat boards as some think are necessary.
Mine look a lot like @K0k0shka's birds when roosting at night too.
Mary
There's always gonna be that one :lol: This confirms my theory though. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. Time to stop stressing out about the roosts!
 

Willow2253

Crowing
Dec 6, 2019
1,147
3,484
276
Eastern Oregon
I’ve got round roosts too, even a little smaller than yours, and I never see toes if the chickens don’t want them exposed. They even seem to prefer the round roosts over the flat one they also have.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom