Roosting area

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by yelim, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. yelim

    yelim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have searched this forum and did not find anything about roosting space required per bird.
    Does anyone have a general rule on this. When building my coop I didn't consider roosting space per bird.
    I am having an issue with feather picking and read that stress from not enough roosting space could cause this.
    I have several hens with feathers missing from their backs. I thought I had to many roosters, 3 for 21 hens, so I culled 2 roosters.
    Yesterday I saw a hen picking another while she was dust bathing. So maybe the roosters weren't the problem. I have about 5 hens
    out of 21 that have bare backs.
     
  2. happytxchick

    happytxchick Egg Song Acre

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    My first thought is that those five with the bare backs may be your roo's favorites. My roo has favorites & they have bare backs. My chickens have appx 2ft of roosting space per bird, but they still huddle all together in rows right next to each other while roosting.

    Another thought: Perhaps you could watch to see which girls are doing the picking, and rehome them before they teach it to the others.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feather picking is usually a sign of too little protein. They eat the feathers as they are high protein. Sometimes people find themselves in this situation because of trying to be good chicken parents and giving lots of treats and scratch.

    The rule of thumb is 10" per bird on the roost, for large fowl. I always thought this sounded small so I did 1'. They never used the whole roost, but it does give the semi-outcast a place to roost out of reach of being pecked. Actually you can probably tell whether you have enough by how they arrange themselves on the roost, whether there is any space left. They do like to spread out more when it's hot out. And they WILL squabble as they decide who gets to roost where. This is definitely when mine have their biggest conflicts.
     
  4. yelim

    yelim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have considered the protein or lack there of and think I'm ok there. They have free choise of 2 30lb feeders with 16% layer feed that they empty in about a week, I do give them scratch once or twice a day.
    They free roam part of the day with plenty of greens and such.
     
  5. DiamondOaksFarm

    DiamondOaksFarm New Egg

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    My guys don't seem to want to come off the ground. I have hay and shavings in the coop and there are laying boxes and perches, but they always stay on the ground - even in their pen area.... seems unusual, but I guess they are fine.
     
  6. Knilsson

    Knilsson Out Of The Brooder

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    My chickens seem to like the ground too. My husband and I added roosts about 2 months ago and nesting boxes a few weeks ago, but we never see the chickens on them. Only once in a great while I'll catch one or two perched on the bottom roost. Did I wait too long to give them the roost and nexting boxes? They are about 5 months old now. It may be the boxes are placed too high? Is there a standard height for roosts and nesting boxes (too high, too low?)?
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    My roosts are 30", and the wide side of 2x4's, which works for my chickens. Some really large birds may need a wider and lower roost or even a sleeping shelf. Some who fly better might prefer a much higher one; my 3 month old sleeps on top of a people height door in the coop, to my broody pen. Some breeds prefer a very low roost or won't roost at all. They need a few feet of horizontal space, or else a ladder, to get down comfortable and safely -- in 30" mine will fly 6' or 8' to the side to get down. Often they will switch from the floor to the roost if you put them up there several nights in a row to train them, if the roost is comfortable to them. If there is a draft on the roost area in cold weather, they are probably going to choose the floor. In general, they will sleep on the highest spot they can comfortably get to.

    Some chickens like nests at floor level, others higher. Often they are placed about 14" above floor level because it is a comfortable height and it allows the birds to walk under them, which increases the square footage of floor space. Besides, it makes egg collecting easier on the back.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use 12" per bird as my rule of thumb even for my very small bantams.
     

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