How can I get chickens to roost where I want them to?

lfrj(7)August 31, 2006

Hi All,

Our coop is 6.5 X 7 and 8  10 in height. There is a shelf about shoulder height that runs the circumference. It is not removable  (I think the shelf caps the cinder block which encompasses the coopÂs lower half, (from there up itÂs plywood sheets with windows). The coop is shared by our 4 Indian Runners and 2 pullets. Our problem is that the pullets have taken to roosting on the shelves at night. No surprise there. IÂve tried to train them otherwise. I dislike the mess they leave there nightly, and, itÂs a pretty long jump for them in the morning. Furthermore, I just donÂt cotton to them being face-high. I finally acquiesced by raising their roost poles to the level of the shelf, but theyÂre not budging. Is there any thing I can put down on the surface (which they donÂt like) that may discourage them? Sand paper for instance or a layer of pebbles or something? I could tack an arc of chicken or weld wire across the shelf, but I am afraid they might get there feet entangled which might end in disaster. Thanks for your input.


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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Is there anything about the roosts that they may dislike? Too thick, too thin, rough edges?

Could you cut down cardboard cartons to fill the space on the shelves? By default they would start using the roosts and once you have broken the habit,they MAY continue to do so even after the boxes are removed.

There are spiky things on the market to keep pigeons from roosting on windowsills. They'd likely work, but I don't know if you would want to go that far to break the habit.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 5:06PM
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Thanks Maggie. I just DON'T know what I'm gonna do with those little scamper-pants. I can't imagine that there's anything about the roost poles they would dislike. It's sturdy, new 1.5 - 2" doweling. Certainly served them well before we quit clipping their wings and they discovered the ledge. (The ducks were mean to them so we raised their roosts and quit clipping).

I was just hoping their was an obvious something or other out there that we hadn't though of. We're such beginners. Being from the city, I'm aware of the spiky stuff used to discourage pigeons. Seems a little extreme.

Guess it's time to suck it in and call Mom. (sigh) She farmed for years, raised chickens, hogs and dairy cows, and had some real creative solutions, let me tell ya!

She'd be such a great addition to this forum, but she's 84 now, and not at all computer savvy.

If we come up with anything, I'll post.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 11:37PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

We are finding that the chickens want to roost at the highest possible place. We will have up to five chickens roosting on the top of the 5 gallon water buckets that supply the water to the bell waterers. It drives me nuts because they poop all over the lids, but the buckets are higher than the roosts. Probably has something to do with the pecking order. They certainly would be more comfortable on the roosts.

We have four of these buckets in one of the hoop houses and up to 20 chickens will crowd on top of them. The ones that won't fit have to be happy with long lenths of empty roosts. The little guys in the brooder that are only 8 weeks old now are doing the very same thing!

I just don't know what goes on in those tiny little chicken brains.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 9:25AM
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try moving them after dark to where you want them...maybe it will sink in????

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 12:01PM
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..and that's what Mom said too - they'll want to be as high as they can get, so GET used to it. She chuckled, I knew she would, but she said Âshe'd sleep on itÂ. (SheÂs going in for her second hip operation tomorrow so she said she'd have plenty of time to sleep on it, too!)

She recommended putting a layer of straw along the shelf to make for easier clean-up and a hat for my thick head if that's the bother. Roberta, this might be the only advice we can share for your situation as well, but thanks for commiserating. I'm just fussy and like it as clean as possible in there....(I can hear her chuckling over that, too). Guess I'm the one that's the most high, this time.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 2:27PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

My only problem with my chickens roosting on top of the waterer lids is that there is a hole in each one and poop and feathers drop through.

It amazes me that chickens will poop in their feed and their water but will never poop in their nest boxes. (poop on feet that go into the boxes doesn't count.) Our girls are free range and don't have poopy feet. They have been laying for 6 months now and I have yet to clean a nest box. I will probably add a little pine bedding soon, but the eggs are totally clean. I expect that is nature's way of keeping the eggs (next generation) pristine and free of feces bacteria.

The stupid state regs that say you have to wash the eggs doesn't make any sense for us. Eggs are porous and washing them would just push bacteria through the shells. Oh wait! That's another show.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 3:45PM
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Yes, Roberta, it was reg upon reg, for better or worse, that eventually forced my parents out of their farming livelihood. At middle age, with no formal education they were forced to find city jobs (or move and rebuild the barn etc. etc. etc.). Unfortunately, their story is not unique. I'd love to see a documentary of the saga during this era - but the window is closing.

I do have one question related to your comment though, before this thread folds completely. Our pullets aren't laying yet - though one of them jumps into the raised nest box and stirs it up good daily, so it shouldn't be too far off. Our ducks ARE laying however - but their nest box isn't so clean. I'm wondering if the tidy habits chickens keep goes for ducks also...If so, perhaps one of the drakes or the pullets are messing in it. It's ground level and doesn't belong to the pullets (paybacks?). Anyway, I have to tidy it up for them each morning.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 12:21AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Our pullets tried out the nest boxes for several weeks before they started laying but even then didn't soil them. All 18 nests have the same pine bedding they started with. I am new at this so this is just my own experience. My husband and I were very surprised at the cleanliness because we learned through forums and books that we would have to clean the nests regularly (and wash the eggs, of course.)

The nests are all raised with the lowest tier being 3' off the ground. (We raised them for easy egg gathering.) I have never had ducks so can't help with that.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 8:57AM
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Roberta, I don't think you're allowed to use the phrases "state regs" and "make any sense" in the same sentence.

If, sometime you may want to try a communtiy nest for the hens. It makes life a lot easier in care and collecting eggs. Our's is a plywood box 4' long, 1' wide and 1' high. It has a 1' opening in the center of one length and a removable cap. All the girls lay in the same nest. When one goes broody they have some words but it is really a nice system. That size nest works fine for 8 layers. Tom

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 10:03AM
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