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Roosts? 2x4s, 2x3s or Branches?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by KrystalRose, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. 2x4

    7 vote(s)
    77.8%
  2. 2x3

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  3. Keep branches as they are

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  1. KrystalRose

    KrystalRose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Right now I have 22 large breed chickens that are all 13 weeks old, I have a large roosting ladder I made out of branches, but every night they all fight over who can fit at the very top which is a 2x4 and a metal fence rail that I use as my hinge to be able to lift up the roosts to clean under. I am thinking of changing out the branches that they don't seem to like for 2x4s. Any opinions? I have seen people suggesting both but my birds seem to like the 2x4 at the top. I know they naturally want to be as high as they can so that might be part of it, and I also have pretty uncoordinated boys in the group that have trouble on the branches. Here is a picture of what I have, the roost is about 5' high at the highest point and 7' wide. (the chicks were only 6 weeks old in the picture)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Chickens like a flat surface to roost on. They are not like parakeets/parrots who curl their feet around their roost. 2 x 4's laying FLAT are optimum...it allows the birds to rest on their feet and also will keep their legs warm during the night.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I think your concern is that they are fighting and squabbling while they are settling in for the night. That’s really normal. The chickens highest in the pecking order get to sleep where they want to, which is normally the highest spot but other factors play into it too. My more dominant ones seem to want to be by a window, for example. I’m not sure of everything that goes into their decision of where they prefer to sleep but height and by the window seems to be the determining factors for mine.

    I use tree branches that are thicker at one end than the other with the thicker part near the window. One time I flipped the branches to see if that made a difference, putting the thinner part near the window. There were a few adjustments but very few and I think those were due to the limbs being crooked so some parts are higher than others. Thickness of the tree branch didn’t seem to matter.

    What normally happens with mine is that the first ones to go to bed try to grab the best places but when some come in that are more dominant they push those out of the way. Sometimes they knock other chickens off the roosts as they are trying to move from where they flew up to the roost to their roosting spot. The more dominant ones are also likely to peck at the less dominant as they settle down. What will probably eventually happen with yours is that the less dominant move down a level to avoid that bullying. That will happen as they mature. At 13 weeks, they are still pretty immature. They will continue to work out the pecking order as they mature.

    I don’t know where that myth that chickens are the only perching/roosting birds in the world whose feet don’t curl came from. Just look at your chicks when they are perching/roosting to see for yourself.

    I use tree branches. When mine settle down at night in winter, they fluff up their feathers and sit down on the branch. Their feet disappear under those fluffed feathers. I don’t worry about frostbite on their feet. I don’t know what your winter temperatures are like. Mine generally don’t get lower than a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

    To test the theory of them preferring flat surfaces to round, I put some 2x6’s up there with the branches and at the same height, flat side up. Mine ignored the boards and continued to use the tree branches. You can swap out 2x4’s for those branches if you wish. 2x4’s work well as roosts, either narrow side up or flat side up. I don’t think you will see any difference in their behavior but you will sure make a lot of people on this forum happy.

    I don’t know how cold your winters get but if they get below freezing, I’d worry about that metal hinge up there if they are sleeping on it. Metal is a great conductor and will carry heat away real fast when it is cold. You’ve probably heard of people getting stuck to metal in really cold weather if they touch it with their skin. In cold weather that metal could lead to their feet getting frostbite. If I were changing anything there them sleeping on the metal is what I’d change.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    2 X 4's... laying flat.... wide side up...
     
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  5. barkinghills

    barkinghills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I remember reading that the roosts/perches should be spaced apart - around 18" between perches. That way the chickens on the lower branches are not subject to pecking from the higher pecking order chickens once settled on roost.

    I have a large coop with the roosts made out of wide yew logs. They are smooth and 3-4" diameter. My flock has been perfectly happy with them for several years, and no foot problems.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  6. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    Totally agree with you @DaveOmak .. 2 x 4's .. laying flat.
     
  7. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I suspect they prefer the 2x4 because it happens to be the highest perch available. If you swapped the top two perches, I think they would forego the 2x4 and go for the tree branch perch at thee top. I still think 2x4s are a great roosting material, but those nice thick branches are fine too.
     
  8. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is another suggestion. Take the ladder style you constructed and simply turn it so it is level. You can easily cut it in half because as you noted the birds all gravitate to the top so the majority of the roost is not used anyway.
    This is what I did years ago and for the most part all the squabbling, pecking, knocking each other off the roost stop. Sure there is still the occasion peck but nothing like when I used the ladder style.

    My roost is at three feet above the floor. I have many heavy breeds and getting up and down has never been an issue and bumble foot is not a problem either. You could always build a ladder if needed but I've never need one.
     
  9. KrystalRose

    KrystalRose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for all your replies, I am considering leveling it out as was suggested to keep them all from crowding up at the top, sometimes I swear they are sitting on top of each other, and I do worry about what could happen if they fell off from that height, they would probably be ok, but why risk it if you don't need to. So if I modify it to being level, I am gathering that I should maybe change to 2x4 or offer both choices maybe? Also would 3 feet high be the ideal height, anyone else have experience with roost height? Doing this would help keep them off the metal post but I think I am going to try to do something so they cannot get on the metal. This was my first try at a coop and my first run with chickens so I was bound to be able to make improvements here and there. Again thanks for the input! By the way, I only have 22 chickens now but as chicken math dictates I am already planning my spring order for more, and planning a separate coop addition to raise meat birds in. I designed my coop for 44 chickens to have plenty of room.
     
  10. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Roost height.... about 5" above the poop board.... not much head height either.... they seem to love it.... they fee comfortable in those tight, hidden quarters... that's Sweet PDZ on the poop boards......

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.

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