Chickens need perches in their coop to allow them to sleep without standing in their faeces. Chickens roost on perches in the wild to avoid predators at night and during the day. Perches in a chicken coop help fulfil this natural tendency. Well-placed perches help keep chickens from pooing on each other and from getting injured. Chickens need to have perches that provide enough surface area for them to balance on while sleeping. Placement, spacing, length and height are the four things to consider during the installation process.
The perches need to be placed toward the back of the coop away from nesting boxes, windows and doors. This placement will ensure the chickens stay out of harmful drafts and out of the nesting boxes at night. The perches need to be secured to the walls of the coop and installed level. A bubble level can help you accomplish this. Un-level perches cause chickens to fatigue one leg more than the other. This can result in chickens falling off the roosts at night.
Chickens need space to accommodate the varied temperaments in a flock. Some chickens don't mind roosting shoulder to shoulder, but others won't allow any neighbours within 30-60cm (12 to 24 inches). Install the perches so that each roost is 30cm (12 inches) apart. This will help keep the more aggressive birds from pecking at the less aggressive ones above or below them. Stagger each perch 30cm (12 inches) up or 30cm (12 inches) below subsequent perches. Offset the perches by 30cm (12 inches) so you don't have any perches directly on top of each other.
Count the number of chickens you have in your flock and then multiply that number by 300cm (1 foot). Each chicken needs a minimum of 300cm (1 foot) on the perch. If you have 12 chickens, you need to install 3.65 metres (12 feet) of perch space. The length and amount of perches you need to install depends on the width and design of your chicken coop. If your coop is 900cm (3 feet wide), you'll need four 900cm (3-foot) long perches to accommodate 12 chickens. Always provide more than the minimum to keep your chickens comfortable.
Never set roosts higher than 1 metre (4 feet) off the ground. When you place them higher than this, the risk of injury increases. Chickens can get rather feisty when they begin roosting in the evening. Chickens have a pecking order and the dominant birds always goes for the top perch. This process often causes some of the submissive birds to fall off the roosts. A fall from a roost higher than 4 feet can cause foot, leg and wing injuries. Always keep a layer of pine shavings on the floor to help cushion falling chickens.
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