Need help with 'ROOST'

gardengal19June 10, 2011

I am new to 'chickens' and need some help.

How high should the roost be?

How wide should the rung be?

DH has built one. It is all one level. Reminds me of the barricades we used when I was in grade school back in the '50's - except the one he built is wider at top. I think he used a 2 x 4 or 2 x 3. It is 36" or more high. He put a piece of plywood half way down to catch the chickie doo-doo. Today was the first time we put them in the coop and they all went under the plywood. We tried putting them on the roost but, one by one, they all flew down. The chicks are about 7 weeks old now. Maybe they are too young yet to have a roost that wide and that high.

What are your thoughts about a 'roost'?

I appreciate any info you may have.


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For roosts we just lean pallets against the wall(s). We remove every other slat (on both sides) and lean it. Easy to move for cleaning & seasonally (in sun or near door, etc.). This allows for 3-4 roost heights to accomodate different ages & breeds of chickens.

Ideally if you wanted to build a roost, for chicks I think I'd go with about 8-12", then 16", and move them on up. Our nesting boxes are about 3.5' (maybe 4) foot high & the adults have no issues flying up there. From there we have another roost that is about 6' high. They use all the roosts, I can't say they have a favorite height but the heavier breeds tend to use the lower ones more from what I've observed.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Brendasue - Thank you for the info!

I will have to look for a pallet or two. When I had the chicks out in the garden area - I did notice that they liked to sit on a cuke trellis (homemade) that I turned sideways. They are too big to do that anymore.
But, not big enough to enjoy the roost DH made.

I'm thinking of sticking a broom handle between two sorta large cardboard
boxes as a temporary fix. That would put them about 10 to 12" off the
floor. Maybe a branch would work better and not turn/roll every time they got on. We have lots of trees and keep the property rustic - so when a branch falls - we just let it be unless it gets in the way of the mower. Then it gets tossed into the ravine. I'm sure I'll find lots of branches.

I have 12 hens - Long Island and New Hampshire reds for laying eggs. Except, I think one of them ia a rooster or an older hen.
They were all supposed to be the same age but one was bigger and one was smaller than the others from the get go. So I'm not sure what I have.

Thanks for your post

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 2:30PM
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Your welcome.

As a side note, something that I learned when I had parakeets, was that different size roost footholds were better....something about then they are grasping it is better for them to grasp different sizes, so when you are looking for those branches, look for different diameters.

Good luck with your birds, may they all be hens...or you have an incubator to incubate your replacements in a few years!


    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 7:58PM
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Branches work best! The first day I had only 1 branch that was securely mounted between a box and a corn crib feeder about 12" high. Three hens were able to sit on the branch. I thought they might like to sit on the corn feeder too but I think the edge has too much of an angle. So, yesterday we scouted around for more branches. One is about 8 foot long and twists and turns having different heights and diameters and forks out into other branches. We just put it on the floor of the coop and the highest part of the branch is about 2' high. They really like that one!

It reminds me of McD's playground for kids. The chicks are climbing and jumping all over that branch. We put more branches in their coop so every hen can find their favorite place.

At what age does a chick become a hen or roo? They are about 7 to 8 weeks old now. I think I'll call them 'the girls' or 'the ladies' and one 'gentleman jack'. At least, I hope he is a 'gentle'man'! The first night in the coop - one of the hens nuzzled her way under his wing for cover. Maybe he'll protect them all. He is looking more and more like a roo - not only bigger- but, the coloring on his cape feathers has black, much different than the others who have no black.

I have no idea about incubation. I'm thinking I'll let the hen hatch her own chicks. Is this a good idea? - or will that cause problems in the coop?

Thanks again for your help.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 8:47AM
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I guess officially they'd be adults when they start laying and/or breeding. Typically chickens are anywhere from 16-20 weeks old, some may say when their feathers are fully developed.

Unless I'm mistaken, the breeds you have there is a slim to none chance of them going broody. Many of the newer breeds, bred specifically for egg laying, do not go broody it was bred out of them many generations ago. Rhode Island Reds are one of them, if I'm not mistaken New Hampshire Reds are a spin off of the Rhode Islands. You'd have to check those breeds characteristics.

If you want your chickens to set, get one or two hens with the instincts still intact & swap eggs on them. Off the top of my head, bantams & buff orphingtons both go broody, there are others, you can google them.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:28PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

We use 2 x 2 squared-off lengths of wood for roosts, it seems to be comfortable for the chickens to grip. We sanded off the edges a bit so there were no sharp edges and placed them all at one level--that seemed to eliminate the fighting over who gets to roost higher and is great for them to cuddle together on cold nights.

We also have a ladder they can walk up, great for older birds. The roosts are only about 2 1/2 to 3 fee off the ground because the chickens like to jump down off them, and older birds or heavy birds can injure their legs jumping down in the morning. We keep a layer of straw underneath the roosts for poops and for them to land on when they jump down.

I've found that youngster chicks will prefer to sleep in a pile on the ground or very low, all in a pile at first. Over time they'll eventually go up with the others as they become more part of the flock and become accepted, especially after a few months when we'd go out after dark and place them in amongst the others every so often.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I think a 2x2 with the sharp edges removed works well because it isn't too wide for them to cling to, but is wide enough that they can squat down over their feet in winter time.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:37PM
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It makes sense to use a 2 x 2 and I'm hoping DH will replace the 2 x 4.

In the meantime, the chicks like the branches. Some still like sitting on the floor which has about 4" of pine shavings.

If the reds don't go broody, I guess I can take their eggs daily. How would I know if it has been fertilized? Should I assume that all the hens will be laying fertilized eggs from one roo?

Maybe it's not a good idea to keep the roo when all I want is eggs. But, I might change my mind as time goes on.

This is becoming a very involved hobby but, we're enjoying it - especially the grandkids when they get to hand-feed them.

Thank you all for sharing your experience with 'chicks'!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:39PM
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AFter they've been laying for a while, and the eggs are full sized, you should assume they are fertilized. Candling them will tell for sure.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:22AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Crack open a couple of eggs and check the blastoderm (that white spot on the egg yolk, also called the germinal disc). If the egg is fertile, it'll look like a doughnut with defined edges. If infertile, the edges will be ragged and indistinct. More here, with pictures:

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:14PM
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