Roosts - what NOT to do

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Prairie Mary, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Hi all,
    I'm asking for help and offering up my mistake so others may avoid this. I placed the roosts in such a way that its a gauntlet for the girls to go through - up and down. The roosts have been this way since they started roosting over a year ago and just the other day I was up early enough to see the dismount. Ho, was I surprised! After much angst and trepidation 4 out of 10 are flying down from the 6' high roost. One hit the opposite wall! Everyone grazed something on the way down. The rest of the hens are crowded in one corner hoping they aren't hit by a chicken falling out of the sky! (kind of a twist on "the sky is falling" business) One day I wondered why they weren't crowed around the pop hole waiting for it to open - well it's at the end of the oh-so-short runway!

    Some of the girls figured out that the best way down is reverse of the way up, but it's not intuitive for their little brains since they have to turn away from the way they want to go.

    Here's my set up - I would very much appreciate advice as I'd like to build the best roost design we can figure out. I've read all the posts on roosts that I could find and have checked several times over the months - not realizing that meanwhile the girls are praying that I don't clip their wings.
    This is looking thru a chicken wire wall - coop is in a corner of the barn. Initially that ridiculous 3' wide ladder was going to be roosts (after reading about predictors here at BYC I decide I wanted something higher).

    The high roosts are set diagonally in the corner at 6' & 4' high with varying distance between them. So the poor chicken has to balance on this 2 1/2" branch and make it's way all the way to the right so it can jump down to the interim roost and the scootch all the way to left to jump down on the very edge of the ladder which is covered with poop since it's under the tall roost. Seems like I should have the most intelligent birds, doesn't it? Like owner like bird - nuff said!

    Coop is 7' x 10' floor with 2 wire walls but we'll build structure if needed. The floor is fake concrete so easy to clean but I need an easy way to get under the new roosts. My thinking now is to have two roosts (2x3) at the same height so all the girls fit with ladders on each end (but the nest boxes are in the way, ugh). Possibly roosts that fold down (or up) for cleaning underneath.

    Since we get some cold winters (lows in the teens, some single digits) seems like having the roosts up higher is good . . . ?
    Should I spring for 2x4s instead of the 2x3s on hand? Currently I have RIR & Araucanas.
    I'm considering dropping boards but can't figure out an easy way to get a poopy board in and out of the coop.
    If I missed a post that addresses this would someone be so kind as to point me in the right direction?
    Would love to see more pictures! I get ideas from all of them.

    Sorry this is so long. Sincerely hope this helps some chickens ask Santa for something besides flight school!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    In your climate I'd spring for the 2x4's. You might consider some sort of trays or two or three smaller poop boards instead of one long one that is hard to move around. Can you use the top of the nest boxes for poop board holders?
  3. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Hi ddawn - yea, I don't want to regret using 2x3s. I'll see what others say.
    The nest boxes have a sloped front to avoid roosting on them. So are you thinking move the nest boxes into the roost side so it runs under a roost? It'd be right in the poop side. I have a 2x8 on edge dividing the poopy half from the cleaner side. They don't wander into the poop a lot but I have thought of preventing that. Another question. * laugh *

    Prairie Mary (aka Little Chicks on the Prairie)
    (I'm trying to get my BYC name (Little Chicks on the Prairie) changed. It was cute when the little cheepers came in but now and it sounds sexist . . . in a not so good way)
  4. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    we did ours like this but i don't see why you can't put nest boxes underneath..just build this above it.. it is simple to keep clean.and only about 3' above the ground. our nest box is communal and they all hop in there together


    they seem to be ok with this height and our ceiling is over 6' tall.
  5. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary Out Of The Brooder

    wildorchid, Thanks for the picture . . interesting.

    I wonder if we rearranged and ran it the long way if it would be enough room. 10' for 10 birds. Huh, and I thought our coop was plenty large when we framed it.

    Communal nest box . . . now that's a thought. When the girls are on the same schedule 4 boxes for 10 birds aren't enough. Yesterday all four boxes were taken and there was two hens in one box - one on TOP of another. That's a first for me. Later an egg was on the floor outside the milk crate nest box that I put on the floor - evidently they like the penthouse nest boxes. * laugh *

    If you don't mind me asking. So your communal nest box must be lower than the roost, right? Is it a tray of sorts like whats shown in the picture?

    Prairie Mary
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2009
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'd be tempted to remove the ladder completely to free up some space and put the two roosts the same height, probably the height of the lower one. 9 to 12" higher than the nesting boxes should be high enough. Put in a small perch about 2 or 2-1/2 feet high and about 12" to 18" long to help them up. They really don't need the ladders. Some of mine go up 4 feet without using the perch, which in my case is the top of the nesting boxes. They need at least 9" per bird on the roost and to be at least 1 foot from the wall, but I like to give mine at least 12". The roosts need to be separated 12" horizontally. If you could run one roost along the 10' side it would work great but I don't think 7' would be enough for 10 full sized chickens.

    If you move the nesting boxes or make a communal one, consider putting it along a wall next to the roosts not across from the roosts. That may clear up more of a landing area.

    If you put the nesting boxes under the roosts, I think you would need to put a board over the nesting boxes that creates an overhang to keep the poop out of the nests. If you cover that board with linoleum or paint it, it would be fairly easy to scrape it clean as needed. This pure chicken manure would be great on your compost heap.

    I made my roosts removable. I drilled a hole in the ends of the roosts and a hole in the wood that supports the roost and put a nail in it, like a peg. When I want to work under the roosts, I just raise them up and remove them. I have heard of people notching the supports and roosts to hold them in place. They need to be tight enough so they don't rock or move.

    Good luck.
  7. highcountrychickens

    highcountrychickens Head Rooster Jouster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Jackson Hole
    Wildorchid53 what a great design! Where are your nest boxes (or, single box, right?)? Being in front of the window, that roost must be high value real estate to your birds.

    Lil Chicks, the only little tidbit I'll throw in for you to consider along with all of the other great wisdom you'll find here, is that height may sometimes be an issue for heavy breeds because when they land so hard with all of that weight, evidently it can cause leg and foot issues. Then again, DML has had chucks roosting in the rafters of her horse barn for 50 years without a problem, so [​IMG]
  8. highcountrychickens

    highcountrychickens Head Rooster Jouster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Jackson Hole
    Chucks... I mean chooks... talk about a Freudian slip [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Just lower your roost, that'll solve most of the problem. (And as others have said, use the wide side of a 2x4 for frostbite reasons).

    If later this winter you decide they need extra warmth, it is really easy to knock together a temporary drop ceiling or 'hover' over the roost, giving them the thermal advantages of a high roost with all the other advantage of a more modest altitude.

    Good luck, have fun,

  10. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    nest boxes are just across the way next to a closet. they are about 4' long and if need be if we get a broody hen we will enclose the space underneath and keep her and the chicks there. that way they will still be in the is about 2' off the ground we also added a roost bar to help them get into it.. all 4 hens use it and they all lay in the same hole together. we also put electric in the closet incase we had to move someone in there with a heat lamp. we can always put a chicken wire door on it


    the coop is only 8x8 with a small storage closet and the nest box on one side and the roost along the opposite wall.. that leaves all the floor open for walking around


    we have since enclosed the closet. and finished the coop
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009

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