When will my chickens start roosting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BrandonVercnocke, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. Darlene E

    Darlene E In the Brooder

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    LOL - I thought something was wrong with my chickens. I built them a great (in my opinion) coop with roost and nesting boxes. And they're sleeping huddled on the floor in the corner. I have 3 Rhode Island Reds. I got them in March so they're about 7 months now and have been laying since the end of July.

    Any way, they just started using the roost at night the past couple of days. One of them has been sitting on the ledge in front of the nest boxes, with her butt inside the box so there's a pile of poop at the front of the box every morning, and I'm not sure how to gently discourage that.

    When I go check on them (and close the coop door) in the evening should I move her to the roost with the other two? Or maybe put a 2x4 on the ledge in the afternoon (after they've layed for the day) so she can't sit there? That might work if I move it when I open the coop in the morning. I don't want her to hurt herself trying to get on the blocked ledge though.

    Here is a pic of that end of the coop.

    upload_2018-9-29_8-39-6.jpeg
     
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  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    Yes you should move her to the roost at night. Also considering covering the nest boxes at dusk to discourage her from going there.

    One thing you can try changing is raising the roost bars or moving the nest boxes to ground level. Chickens prefer to sleep higher up and you have at least 1, if not 2, roost bars at/lower than nest box level.
     
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  3. Darlene E

    Darlene E In the Brooder

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    Sep 23, 2018
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    Thank you for replying. The nest boxes are built into the wall. The height is 24". The roost is free standing and the lowest rung is 18" from the ground. The next is 24" and the last is 36". I made the lowest one because I thought they'd need it to get to the higher ones.

    If I redo it and have the lowest one 24" then one at 36" and one at 48" will the 24" one be too high for them to get up on the roost easily?

    I don't really need that much roost space (I only have the 3 hens) but was looking to the future when I plan to have more chickens. Maybe I should put this one in the run (I haven't put one out there for them yet) and just build a roost straight out from the wall. How high can they get up to easily? should I make a ramp or something?

    I realize now I should have made the nest boxes lower but I would have to rip out the entire wall to change it. So I'm stuck with the way it is. At least for this year, maybe next summer I can redo it.

    I made the external nest boxes with a door that opens from the outside because I thought that would be best/easiest. But I find I just gather the eggs from the inside of the coop anyway. So that didn't work out like I thought.

    I'm new to chickens. These are my first. And even though I read every thing I could find and thought I knew what I was doing I'm finding that I have to rethink a lot of things because it's not working out the way I thought it would.

    Thanks in advance for any advice from more seasoned chicken owners.
     
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  4. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    Don't get me wrong, it really is a nice set up and your roosts are well spaced, the nest box looks cozy and convenient to access, etc. And it's obviously too much work to have to redo the nest boxes, especially with how solid that coop looks. So raising the roosts would be the easier option. My roost bars are at... I want to say about 28" and 40" up, and the birds do use the lower one to get to the upper. No ramp, they fly up.

    I would say for now the thing to try (since it takes the least amount of altering) is to cover the nest boxes before the chickens head in for the night. They generally don't lay late in the afternoon/early evening so you don't have to perfectly time it at dusk. With your set up you'd want to make sure that ledge in front of the nest boxes is covered up too, since that's likely where your one chicken is hanging out. You could maybe try a flip open cover hinged from the top of the nest boxes? Flip it down in the evening, flip it open in morning. @aart has a good example of such a cover.
     
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  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Yes!
    Hard to suggest just what to do as I can't see the rest of the coop, you may need a ramp of they don't have enough good landing area to jump/fly down from roost.
    Might be good to start a new thread instead of hijacking this one...with more pics of coop.
     
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  6. Darlene E

    Darlene E In the Brooder

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    Sep 23, 2018
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    Thanks. I will do that. It's dark, gloomy and raining here today, but I will try to get better/more pics of the inside of the coop and start a new thread asking for ideas.

    Thanks again.
     
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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Here too...and forecast to last the next 10 days...UGH!
     
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  8. Melky

    Melky Spring has sprung!

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    I only have roosts 24 inches or higher once out of the brooder and they have no problem using the roost since about 4-5 weeks of age at this height. That’s what wings are for.
     
  9. Mosey2003

    Mosey2003 Crowing

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    Just cover the nestboxes in the evening. I wouldn't try using a 2x4, she'll just try to sit on that instead and still have her butt in a box. I'd cut a sheet of plywood you can just slip in front.
     
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  10. Darlene E

    Darlene E In the Brooder

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    Sep 23, 2018
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    Thanks, I'll try that. So far (the past couple of days) I've been picking her up and setting her on the roost when I go out to close up the coop. As far as I can tell she stays there (on the roost) all night. At least there's no pile of poop in the nest box when I check in the morning.
     
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