Will my new roost be a problem, or will they adapt?

FunintheRun

In the Brooder
Sep 17, 2020
23
11
34
Colbert, Washington
About a month ago, I inherited a flock of 6 hens and a small coop from my mother in law. I'm brand new to chicken keeping but really enjoying what I'm learning and hope to make this work. The coop is only about 4x4, which from all of the things I've read and heard is a bit small for 6 chickens, BUT it's what I have, and they're used to be 8 of them squeezed in there before I got my 6.

For reference, I have a Polish, an Easter Egger, a Silkie, and 3 Polish-Silkie crosses. They're all on the smaller side, but I don't think they're bantams, except maybe the silkie?

Since getting the coop, I've been trying to make little updates here and there to extend the life of the coop and make my hens more comfortable. Changes include deep cleaning, a new, easy clean floor, new waterer for winter, nest box updates, and as of today, new roosts.

I swapped out an old 1.25 inch dowel on a rusty bracket for a wide-side-up 2x4 (plus a lower 2x4 for my silkie who had been roosting on the skinny edge of a milk crate nest box). New roost was MAYBE an inch or 2 higher than old roost (about 24 inches from floor). When the girls went to bed, they didn't know what to make of the new roost. (Silkie loved hers!) They kept jumping up and missing and making quite a fuss. Eventually most of them settled up there, but I had to pick up one hen and place her on the roost, where they are now.

Did I mess things up by trying to upgrade their roost for them?
Was it harder to hop on because the 4 inch board is much wider than the old dowel roost?
Is 24 inches too high for a hen in a small coop that doesn't have room to really fly/flap?
Should I lower it a bit?
Should I add a lower perch or ramp for hens that struggle?
Do big changes like this just take time to get used to?

I hear chickens are pretty hardy and adaptable, but being new, I don't want to ask too much of them. Thank you for any advice!!!
 

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rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
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New things confuse them, but they should be able to adjust for the changes. Although possibly the wideness of the bar is making it harder to get on, as it looks like the space to get on/off is kind of limited.

You could try turning the roost bar so 2" is up instead of 4", as they really don't need 4" to sit on. They were obviously ok with using the more narrow roost before.
 

FunintheRun

In the Brooder
Sep 17, 2020
23
11
34
Colbert, Washington
New things confuse them, but they should be able to adjust for the changes. Although possibly the wideness of the bar is making it harder to get on, as it looks like the space to get on/off is kind of limited.

You could try turning the roost bar so 2" is up instead of 4", as they really don't need 4" to sit on. They were obviously ok with using the more narrow roost before.
Very good point. I read something somewhere saying the wider bar allows for their feet to stay warmer than the 2 inch side. But, if they're used to a smaller dowel, anything is an upgrade right?

Thanks for the quick response.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,551
23,276
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Very good point. I read something somewhere saying the wider bar allows for their feet to stay warmer than the 2 inch side. But, if they're used to a smaller dowel, anything is an upgrade right?
Nah, I don't really buy into that - even if chickens are on a round roost (I use branches, 2" diameter), their feathers will naturally settle around their feet as they hunker down for the night. I don't see toes at all once they're roosting.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,551
23,276
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Oh okay. That makes a lot of sense. As a newbie, it's hard to sift through all the advice and "must do's" for chickens! Thank you.
It's because everyone has differing opinions. :) And some of what gets passed around as "fact" isn't really all that accurate. I've seen people argue that chickens cannot lock their feet around a round perch like other birds, because that's what the internet says, and yet, my flock sleeps with their toes locked around round bars. :confused:
 

FunintheRun

In the Brooder
Sep 17, 2020
23
11
34
Colbert, Washington
It's because everyone has differing opinions. :) And some of what gets passed around as "fact" isn't really all that accurate. I've seen people argue that chickens cannot lock their feet around a round perch like other birds, because that's what the internet says, and yet, my flock sleeps with their toes locked around round bars. :confused:
Yes! The line between facts and "it worked for me" seem to blur. I think I'll go ahead and yurn thr board with the skinny side up.
 

FunintheRun

In the Brooder
Sep 17, 2020
23
11
34
Colbert, Washington
Just saw this thread and it made me think of yours, comes with photos to show how effectively they cover their feet even on a smaller roost: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/roost-thickness-and-toe-warmth.1426013/
Wow, great timing for that post. And I hadn't thought about just how fluffy they get. Looks like they can take care of themselves! When my hens are all puffed up trying to get warm, I want to snatch and cuddle them. I don't think they'd like it though. I'll get that board switched to the 2 inch side up and give the girks a chance to adapt.
 

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