Topic of the Week - Perches for Coop and Run

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,105
23,913
1,252
Tipperary, Ireland
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Pic by @Just4u2c
Perches are a coop essential, as chickens instinctively fly up to a high place to roost at night, to keep them safe from predators while they sleep. And it's also nice for them to have a place to perch on during the day, should they feel like it. There are many options, designs, ideas etc floating around when it comes to perches and what can be used, so this week I would like to hear and see you all's thoughts and practices when it comes to these coop essentials. Specifically:

- What do you use as perches?
- How high and wide do you make your perches?
- What materials are NOT suitable for perches and why?


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https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Dec 11, 2009
17,839
20,846
912
Colorado Rockies
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Living in a pine forest as I do, I use pine branches for perches. I chose four inch diameter pieces, and I stripped off the rough bark. They make a comfortable surface that accommodates the natural curve of chicken feet.

The perches are 30 inches off the floor. However, I have a special low perch for my two "plus-size" girls, a Cochin and a Brahma. It's also a thick branch but just ten inches off the floor.

I also have perches out in the run that the chickens like to loaf on. Those are about twenty inches off the ground. I also have a swing that is popular with the youngsters. Besides being fun, chicks find it handy to fly up onto to avoid the bigger individuals.

Small diameter perches should be avoided. Broom handles, for example, are much too small to support an average chicken body. This also goes for tree limbs. They should be at minimum, two inches in diameter. Very rough bark should be avoided as it can damage chicken feet, which contrary to what some people may think, are not indestructible.
 

bruceha2000

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Apr 19, 2012
12,707
42,175
992
NW Vermont
I have several different roost options. 3" round fence rail, 2x4 on the flat along the back wall (2 lengths 12' long and parallel to each other) and a 4' long open "shelf" I made to put the broody buster box on on the north wall. All are at 4' off the coop floor and the ones. There is also an 8' long fence rail at 2' but no bird has ever roosted on it. They use it to stage the higher roosts. I do now have a ramp running from that to the shelf so the older girls can walk half way down.

The shelf was originally only 2x4 on edge but when the buster box wasn't on it the girls decided they liked roosting on it so I doubled up the 2x4s that are perpendicular to the wall.

I have birds from 3 timeframes: June 2012, June 2015, April 2017. One of the 2015 EEs is low girl in the order among the 2012 and 2105 girls. I think she wants to make sure she doesn't slide to the bottom of the entire flock so she bullies the 2017 girls to the point they wouldn't go up on the roost. They would sleep in nest boxes, out in the barn alley (their indoor run) often on a 2x4 on edge that is the top brace of a stand I made to shear the alpacas because she would come over and chase them off the roost then go back to where she was. If they got back up she would harass them again. I put up a piece of plywood halfway along the roosts parallel to the long wall, one night I found one of the 2017s roosting on top of that 1/2" piece of plywood! I still have to go out after dark and move a bird or 2 from the run to the coop after figuring out which side of the plywood the harasser chose that night. Hoping they will eventually figure out that one side is safe as long as they see where Penelope is that night.
 

shawthorne44

Chirping
Jun 23, 2017
74
114
96
We have 2x4's as high up as we could place them and still have room for the chickens to not bump their heads. We had 20 chickens and I didn't want staggered heights for the roosts. The chickens can have all the rankings they want, but the lowest rank chicken will get equal access to the good things in life. So all the roosts are at the same height.
Although the roost spots nearest the door opening does seem to be the cool kids lunch table. I can't do anything about that, but at least they are all the same height.

There are two ramps to the roosts. DH had thought that one would be fine and the chickens would just move over. But two is barely enough.
 

Cluckcluck1215

Free Ranging
Jan 21, 2016
2,763
32,568
697
Maine
My Coop
My Coop
My pinion:

NO ROUND PERCHES!

Advice from a very experienced chicken owner:
"During with winter, when I chicken lays down on a roost, like a dowel, or another rounded perch, they can't put there fluff over all of there toes.The result after a while?Frostbitten toes.With 2X4's or another flat perch, they can coverall there toes, the result?Warm feet."
 

bruceha2000

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Apr 19, 2012
12,707
42,175
992
NW Vermont
My pinion:

NO ROUND PERCHES!

Advice from a very experienced chicken owner:
"During with winter, when I chicken lays down on a roost, like a dowel, or another rounded perch, they can't put there fluff over all of there toes.The result after a while?Frostbitten toes.With 2X4's or another flat perch, they can coverall there toes, the result?Warm feet."
True IF you are using SMALL round perches like dowels which aren't big enough in diameter to be an adequate perch anyway. No problem with fence rails 3" in diameter. My coop is neither heated nor insulated, in fact it is a converted stall in an ancient barn with 1/2" hardware cloth from the top of the 4' wall to the 7' high ceiling on 3 sides. Plenty of cold air in the barn all winter. None of my chickens has ever had a problem with frostbitten toes.
 

Chicken999

Chirping
Feb 27, 2015
54
3
64
I use 2x4's for my girls. You should use that or a LARGE round pole so they can be balanced and sit on their toes so they can be warm during to winter. I know I wouldn't want to fall of my bed while I was sleeping so roosts should be easy to balance on
 

bruceha2000

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Apr 19, 2012
12,707
42,175
992
NW Vermont
True, though last night I AGAIN moved Cassie off the narrow edge of the piece of plywood I put up to divide the 12' of parallel roosts so Penelope couldn't harass the younger girls to the point they get off the roosts. It was pitch black, I need a flashlight to figure out where Penelope is so I know where to put the girls I have to move in from the barn alley (they aren't all still trusting). No way Cassie could have found her way down to the roost from the plywood, she was planning to spend the night up there.
 
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