Roost time, making their choice easier?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RevaVirginia, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Songster

    Apr 26, 2009
    Reva, VA
    I make the trek to the coop @ dusk to spend the time to count, chat, dish out treats and generally check out their well being. There are two eight ft. 2x4s suspended from the rafters. Another roost that has 2x4s angled up to the wall and anchored to the floor with two roost boards about 4 ft long offset down the angle (leaning ladder should give you the visual). There are other 2x4s available that weren't intended to be roosts but have come to be. So ample space for the 20 birds on the roost side of the coop.


    Seems like more times that not they are pretty well set in their roost. Since I really don't want to go without a head count. When I get there and start my routine with them they start leaving their roost for several reasons. The littler ones and the ones down the ladder on the pecking order I'm guessing say "Dad's here, time to get my last drink and eats. Guess they feel safer. The adult birds also will leave their roost probably for a little elbow room for hand fed scratch or whatever. I'll hit the light a few times after I've completed all my interactions and here's where my observations begin.

    Seems that the chickens don't just zoom back to where they were or they do that "sizing up move" they make before a chicken makes a leap to the roost. As their "choice for roost" progresses there always seems to be one or two on every roost that evokes their status and makes the settling down process miserable. Chasing them off, get the idea.

    I was wondering If some have used a partitioning method on their roosts so that the birds that get along would have less interference from others that don't feel that the one arriving has the status for the roost. Sort of like a cubicle. All four roosts are at different heights. I could probably solve this by just using an LED flashlight.....Just within the week got finished running electricity and water 200 feet to the coop, so they're not really used to having the lights come on. Wasn't a problem prior but sure is nice to just pop the lights on and not have to shine a light in my hand for the night time snack. Also have a problem shutting down the coop unless they've all got their spot - don't want to leave with them off the roost. Maybe just shut down and they'll learn they'd better get back to the roost or they'll spend the night on the floor? Any thoughts appreciated. [​IMG]

  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I've had a mildly similar problem lately -- I added to my sussex pen 4 young pullets plus one previously-resident hen who'd been elsewhere for 3-4 months being a mommy, and because I was a lazybutt and did not give the pullets a roost when they were growing up, they are having to learn not to just hunker down in the corner to sleep, and now that they are starting to clue in I really do NOT want to be disturbing them once they are on the roost, since they tend not to return to it.

    So I have taken to doing my evening chicken chores (head count, close the popdoors, collect last eggs, swear at turkeys who won't come in without being chased) by headlamp instead of turning on the building lights. That way the chickens stay on their roosts.

    Honestly that would be your simplest solution. The only thing it wouldn't do is allow you to snack them before bedtime... but perhaps you could do that at a different time of day instead?

    I would suspect that your 'partitioning' idea may cause more problems than it would prevent, but you could try it if you really want and see if I'm wrong [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Songster

    Apr 26, 2009
    Reva, VA
    Thanks Pat.

    They get more than they want all day free ranging and just returning to the coop. Mostly the "reward" is for the Alpha Rooster and the others get a little bit unless they act ravenous. Think I will try 1 (one) divider and see if any chickens take advantage or a non-issue <shrug>. Hopefully someone who's tried this already sees this and responds.

    Thanks again.
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    It seems to me that the old "squabbling over roosts" stuff is just part of being a chicken. Sometimes it seems as if they CANNOT get to sleep unless they have spent a certain amount of time squaking and jumping up and down from the roost. Like kids at summer camp...One of mine always wants to sleep with her head stuck under the next chicken, and of course that one doesn't like that. One needs to have a certain amount of room for her "own" etc..and spends an inordinate amount of time reminding everyone else. One wants the "window seat" to herself. If you have plenty of roost space, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You might try giving them the treats in the morning instead of at bedtime. If you don't give them a reason to come down, maybe they won't. Of course, you already have them trained to come down for treats so it will be hard to get them out of that habit. I don't know how to train them to stay put instead. Pat's idea of a headlamp or flashlight sounds pretty good to me, but you would have to stop giving them treats at bedtime.

    I also turn the lights on at night to do a head count, make sure I have all the eggs, and make sure they have water and food in the coop when they wake up in the morning, in case I am delayed letting them into the run. I do not have any problems with them coming down.

    All my roosts are the same height and they still squabble and joust for roosting positions. They do not all go to the same spots every night, although the more dominant the bird the more likely they are to get the same general position each night.

  6. calicokat

    calicokat Songster

    Apr 2, 2009
    azalia, indiana
    I had two roosts and took one out. All 10 of my girls fit on the one so that's what they have now. It helped some with the fussing and such.

    I also put a 15 watt bulb in the light out there instead of any regular bright wattage. I can come in, flip on the light for head counts and putting the 5 that are never on the roost up there and it doesn't seem to cause as much commotion. It's only about the brightness of a night light, and I've pointed the light up towards the ceiling so that keeps it a little less harsh when I need it on too. We'll likely be putting a brighter bulb out in the other fixture soon, just for some warmth during the day.
  7. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I use a flashlight with a red lense cover on it when I go out for the headcount. Got it in sporting goods at WM it's sold for tracking blood I think = comes with a red lense for night vision and a blue one for seeing blood drops (like on CSI). I assume you could make the same thing with spray paint too.

    The red light is similar to a red brooder light in that it doesn't wake the chicks up much, and it doesn't interfere with your night vision as much as a white light does - so you don't kill yourself triping over the dog's toy, or the lawnmower or whatever else got left out in the yard. I feed all the treats in the morning when I let them out. After they've gone to roost I don't want them to come back down when I go in to lock up.
  8. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Songster

    Apr 26, 2009
    Reva, VA
    Put this question through the old grind and I believe my 1st action is going to be a dimmer switch to simulate roost time and see if that gets me anything.
  9. CheerfulHeart2

    CheerfulHeart2 Creative Problem Solver

    Apr 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    That could work. Let us know how it goes.

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