Wont use the roosting bar -- ideas to remake the bar?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by emcd124, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. emcd124

    emcd124 In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2016
    I should start out by saying that I am a novice both to building and to chickens (our girls just came last wednesday). I know that I made some mistakes in the coop design, but as first-timers with a very limited space in the yard that met the code for city chickens...well we just did what we did. So I would ask kindly that people not respond by chastising me for not making the coop taller to start with. That ship has sailed for the short term at least.

    I would love suggestions on what I COULD do with what I've got.

    We have two chickens. Coop is 24" tall (it is a repurposed TV cabinet). Having read that roosts should be 12" from the floor and 12" from the ceiling, naturally I set the bar at 12" to split the difference. The bar is about 24" long. We happened to have a length of wood that was 1.5" square and the right length, so we used that as the bar and I sanded off the corners of the roost to round them out a bit. It certainly isnt as round as a dowel, but to take the edge off the might bother their feet.

    PROBLEM: every night they ignore the bar and either roost on the floor of the coop or in the nesting box, or on the slanted (to discourage this) roof of the nesting box.

    PROVISIONAL TREATMENT: Removed the nesting box from coop until roosting resolved. One is a pullet and my layer wasnt laying in the box yet, so fixing one problem at a time.

    1. They dont like the roost and would prefer one that was wider and flatter (eg a 1x3 flatwise)
    2. The roost is too high to jump up to within the confines of the coop (They need a step or ramp to get up the roost?)
    3. The roost is too narrow to jump up to at that height
    4. They are just not ready yet and if I waited and waited eventually they would get up on the roost


    1. Dunno. They roost on the floor now, so maybe they are flat foot chickens. I know there is a bit of a flat vs round roosting controversy in the online chicken community.
    2. Possible. One day I saw some muddy footprints on the roost bar in the middle of the day while it was in the coop, so someone evidently managed to get up there at least once, but never at night.
    3. Possible. The height alone doesnt seem a problem because the slanted roof on the nesting box, which is right next door to the roost, is just about the same height and one of the stupid chickens not only jumped up there but spent an entire night on what I thought was a sufficiently precarious angled roof. But perhaps this is evidence that they would only make the jump if they had a nice large landing surface they were aiming for? similarly, outside they routinely jump up onto an old stump I have in the run for their enjoyment, suggesting the height alone is not a problem.
    4. Who knows the mind of a chicken. I dont know what is a reasonable amount of time to wait vs what just allows them to get stuck in bad habits.

    SO DO I?....

    4. Wait it out (how long?) and see if they adjust now that the roost is the only thing inside the coop?
    1 or 3. Change out the 1.5" bar for the flatwise side of a 1x3", giving them a slightly wider target to aim for?
    2. Put in either a ramp (but it would have to be pretty steep to fit inside the coop) or a step to get up to the 12" height. If I did a step, would another bar at about 6" up and 6-8" away from the top bar be sufficient for them to hop up? and if I put in such a step, will I just create new problems or they will roost side by side rather than poop on top of each other?
  2. CanadianBuckeye

    CanadianBuckeye Songster

    Mar 27, 2015
    Cadmus, Ontario Canada
    How old are your chickens? Some chicks take to roosting right away, others take months. 1.5" is a perfect width for standard size chickens, so you are fine there. I've had chickens mash themselves into a very tight space on a flat 2x4 about 8" from the ceiling of the coop, it wasn't meant to be a roost but they flew six feet straight up- these are heavy dual purpose birds, not lightweight ones- so a roost a foot off the ground should be fine. Chickens like to roost as high up as possible so if your nest boxes are higher than the roost, they will ignore the roost.
    What breed are they? some breeds like Silkies prefer a very wide flat roost, or don't like to roost at all (from what others have said).
    Is the coop very dark, or can they see well enough to get up on the roost before it gets too dark?
    Your chickens might be afraid- or depending on where they came from, they may never had the opportunity to roost and just haven't figured it out yet. It's all new to them, it will take them a while to settle in and feel comfortable. I think if you just wait a bit, they will roost once they are comfortable with their new home.
  3. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Wow! I've never seen such detailed thought go into a roost. Not chastising! I actually admire the care you're taking to accommodate your ladies.
    They might like the wider roost but if 1.5" is what they have they should use it. Lots of folks use a 2 x 4 nailed up with the 2" (really 1.5") up for the birds to roost on. At first when I started reading I thought perhaps your birds were too young but you said you've seen footprints so they know how to get up there. I also don't think height from ceiling is an issue. My top of the pecking order gal doesn't use the roost poles I installed. Instead she wedges herself every night into a little angled corner of the at the peak of the hen house - because it's the highest place - and this perch has only 6" clearance from the roof. I'm wondering if they just need more time to figure it out? Did you say how long it's been since you installed the roost? You might also try hand-placing them on the roosts after dark? That's my best idea. Mayhaps others have some thoughts? Good luck to you!
  4. emcd124

    emcd124 In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2016
    We have an araucana mix that is 1.5 yrs old, and a partridge chantileer that is 15 weeks. Both formerly free range on a farm with a coop to overnight.

    I've taken out the nesting box and hoping that incentivizes roosting. I'm nervous about trying to hand place them at night because getting in requires opening the front doors on the tv stand and could lead to escape at night? or are they actually pretty drowsy and dopey when they are sleepy?
  5. CanadianBuckeye

    CanadianBuckeye Songster

    Mar 27, 2015
    Cadmus, Ontario Canada
    Once it's dark chickens usually just sit there- but they can get scared and bolt if they aren't used to being handled, so it might be best just to give them some time to adapt and get used to their new coop. You don't have to worry too much about them, I am sure they will be perfectly fine.
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    My pullets did not officially begin to use the roost bars until they were 8 weeks of age. They slept together on the floor like a litter of puppies until then. Carryover from Day 1 as a group of chicks in the brooder.

    Since then.....they will be on the roost and settled in less than 1 minute before the dusk to dawn light pops on. Every single night....without fail. Uncanny it is.
  7. SueT

    SueT Crowing

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    1.5" is awfully skinny. You might try a tree branch about 3" in diameter.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  8. 88sub4x4

    88sub4x4 Chirping

    Apr 10, 2015
    Long Island, NY
    I wouldn't worry about it much. They'll figure it out. My girls didn't start roosting on the roost bar until almost 3 months old. They'd play on it during the day but at night they huddled together in a corner in the floor. Then one night they just switched. As for laying outside the nest box I put 2 ceramic eggs in the nest box and left them there for a week. They now lay in the nest 100% of the time.
  9. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    How is your ventilation in the coop? Here's a thought. We know birds respirate at a notable pace. If your coop need more venting, maybe the used air is gathering at the top of the coop and the birds are just more comfortable down lower Also, just move the roost down to 6 inches. That's just fine. My Light Sussex never had roosts and were very happy. I had 4 inches of kiln dried hardwood shavings on the floor of the coop. (white bale at Tractor Supply) . Every night they just snuggled in and were very happy.
    Your 1 1/2" roost width is just fine of now. Later when they are grown, you can just put in the wide side of a 2x4. Like the way you took exta time to smooth the edges. That was thougthful. These are chickens ( not puppies) and probably live better at your house than 1/2 the chickens on earth., Smile. We had a huge TV cabinet come in the store where I work on Sat. I confess I looked at it and thought what a great small coop it would have made!
    Can we see pics of your coop? What a cool idea to use a cabinet!!
    Here try this ventilation thread: ( see above URL)

    Karen ( who is quite impressed with your coop ingenuity and forethought on the details. )
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Songster

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    I'd try out a few different type of bars and see if that makes a difference. I had a smaller diameter bar, similar to yours, and as my girls got bigger it was a bit more difficult for them to land on it. I'm now using a tree branch stripped of bark and sanded down that tapers from 3" to about 2.5", and I also bracketed it a couple inches lower, and they seem to be more comfortable on that.

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