All About Roosting Bars
Roosts can be introduced as young as 4 weeks, but they typically do not roost overnight until at least 8-10 weeks of age. Giving a young group of chicks something to hop on or over is always fun to watch as they explore their new surroundings.
Believe it or not, chickens have a natural instinct to roost up high which helps them feel secure at night. They play an important part in the pecking order as the chickens higher up on the roost are at the top of the order. It also plays an essential part in their health and safety. Roosting bars are beneficial to keep the flock from sleeping in their own droppings and to protect themselves from predators on the ground.
The hen house floor is a very unsanitary place. Lice and mites like to seek food at night making any chickens on the floor vulnerable. Not to mention any bacteria they could be exposed to that may have serious health risks for your flock. Some chickens don’t catch on as quickly to roosting and may need a little help. Start by placing them on the roost at bedtime for a few days.
When considering the material to be used, keep in mind chickens cling with their toes. Metal and plastic are too slippery for them to grip. An un-treated 2×4 placed with the wide side facing up gives the chickens a wider place to perch on. This also helps them sit over their feet in the colder months to prevent frostbite. If using a 2×4 piece of wood, be sure the corners have been rounded to allow their feet to wrap around the edge. The surface should be smooth to avoid pressure sores or breaks in the skin that can lead to an infection.
It is recommended to allow at least 8-10 inches of perching space per chicken. Lack of space can result in hens sleeping on the floor which has its own health risks, mentioned above. Place the first rung at least 2 feet above the floor or higher than the nesting boxes and 12 inches apart vertically and horizontally in a stair step fashion. Avoid placing any bars above the nesting boxes so they do not get soiled by the droppings.
Bars can be placed at any height, just be sure to provide some type of ladder or ramp access for them to go up and down to avoid injury. Some will use the ladder and others will choose to fly up or jump down. Provide extra space if you decide to add more hens to the flock. Plenty of room on the roost will help keep things calm and peaceful for your flock at bedtime time.
If a coop is crowded it will get filthy, fast, causing stress and reduce fresh air for your flock. Most of the droppings will accumulate under the perch while roosting which can make cleaning the coop easier. Adding a scrap board under the roost will help if you add this to your daily cleaning chores. You can also mix some Sweet PDZ or Diatomaceous Earth in the bedding under the roosts to keep ammonia and parasites at bay.
Using these recommended guidelines will allow you to create the ideal roosting area for your flock to sleep comfortably at night. Comment below with any tips and tricks you have discovered when creating your roosting space.
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