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Buff Orpington Roost Training...and Tantrums!

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Hello Everyone,

A week ago we got our first chickens - three 10-month old Orpingtons. I've set up a 6x4 shed as the coop and have a nice outside run with an automated chicken guard on the pop-hole. So much effort has gone into planning layouts etc etc... including a two-level roost made with 2x4, wide side up.

However... the buffs simply don't want to roost on the bar. I'd like them to, as it's cleaner and just seems...right. One roost bar is 8 inches from the floor, and the other is 24 inches - I know they don't like roosting too high being so heavy.

Tonight, I went in shortly after they started to settle down for the night, and practiced picking them up (with raisins as bribery) and putting them on the roost bar. Two things happened:

  1. They hate being picked up. Using the legs-between-finger technique and keeping their wings closed, I bring them to my body securely and in one third of attempts manage to succeed. The other two thirds result in a tantrum and a hovering 7-pound chicken!!
  2. When placed on the lower roost bar, they stay there for a few seconds, and hop off, again and again!

Could anyone offer any advice - should I just persevere or do I simply have chooks that aren't so touchy feely?

Attached is a night time snap from the cam I set up in there:

IMG_0045.JPG

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They certainly won't roost at 24" and it's too high for most anyway. Whilst they could get up there landing on the floor afterwards is likely to cause injury (hip problems with Orpingtons are common). As ours got older (and heavier) their perch came down to 6". They grip the perch at the front and rest their keel on the perch (ours are 4"), so if the edge isn't well rounded it will be uncomfortable. Only problem I can see with roosting on the floor is poo on their bottom feathers, which we found a big problem with Orpingtons anyway; frequent washes and blow-dry to avoid fly-strike. You don't really have enough floor space for landing there. I'd move the perch position to the bottom end (12' from the back and 9" high) and put the nest box near the pop-hole. Make some hangars so the perch can be easily lifted out and this will make cleaning out simple.

I've always struggled picking up Orpingtons as their centre of gravity seems all wrong and their wings get free easily. Certainly take a 'head under your armpit' approach, which some chickens prefer and others don't. The only Orpingtons we had that liked being picked up, in fact enjoyed it, were cocks. They used to peck our legs util they were picked up to sit on our laps and then nod-off. I'd not pick them up until you have a technique that works, otherwise they will become more fearful. They are too big to restrain the legs between the fingers I've found, so just rest the keel bone on your forearm and clamp the wings to your side.

Food and water should be outside under a covered run, otherwise it will get messy and rodents may be a problem.

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None of my orps ever roosted, I just got used to them sleeping on floors.

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On 10/22/2019 at 1:11 PM, Beantree said:

They certainly won't roost at 24" and it's too high for most anyway. Whilst they could get up there landing on the floor afterwards is likely to cause injury (hip problems with Orpingtons are common). As ours got older (and heavier) their perch came down to 6". They grip the perch at the front and rest their keel on the perch (ours are 4"), so if the edge isn't well rounded it will be uncomfortable. Only problem I can see with roosting on the floor is poo on their bottom feathers, which we found a big problem with Orpingtons anyway; frequent washes and blow-dry to avoid fly-strike. You don't really have enough floor space for landing there. I'd move the perch position to the bottom end (12' from the back and 9" high) and put the nest box near the pop-hole. Make some hangars so the perch can be easily lifted out and this will make cleaning out simple.

I've always struggled picking up Orpingtons as their centre of gravity seems all wrong and their wings get free easily. Certainly take a 'head under your armpit' approach, which some chickens prefer and others don't. The only Orpingtons we had that liked being picked up, in fact enjoyed it, were cocks. They used to peck our legs util they were picked up to sit on our laps and then nod-off. I'd not pick them up until you have a technique that works, otherwise they will become more fearful. They are too big to restrain the legs between the fingers I've found, so just rest the keel bone on your forearm and clamp the wings to your side.

Food and water should be outside under a covered run, otherwise it will get messy and rodents may be a problem.

Hi Beantree,

Thank you for the advice. I've had similar feedback from others - so will be moving the roost bar to be lower down and narroways across the back. We have a 5 metre covered run so can put the food out there - at the time this photo was taken they were held in the coop for a few days to get settled.

Amazing story regarding the roosters - I do have more success with picking these girls up if I stop restraining legs. Simply letting them dangle and focussing on holding the wings and body seems OK. They still don't love it, but so long as those wings are kept closed they stop struggling.

Regarding bum feathers - I have read stories of people trimming them to one third length - have you ever heard of/tried this?

On 10/22/2019 at 2:05 PM, Daphne said:

None of my orps ever roosted, I just got used to them sleeping on floors.

Good to know it's not just mine! They seem happy enough.

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Fluff is normally trimmed on breeding hens to aid the cockeral!  However, I guess a side benefit would be less knickerage to get mucky.   None of my girls was keen on being picked up, although orps are very docile I have never found them over friendly.  The boys, on the other hand, are often very soft indeed.  I had one who would actively seek me out to be with, and he loved being picked up and carried around!

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I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you but I'm very interested in the camera you have set up in your hen house.

I would love to spy on my girls once they've gone to bed.

Any chance you could tell me what it is you have and how easy it was to set up ?

Thanks x

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Ditto what the others have said.

Also, your roosting bars are too big and sharp - they need to be max 1.5" square and with rounded off edges.

Best to avoid them roosting on the floor for all sorts of reasons... poo, lice and mites, dented breast bones.......

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23 hours ago, Luvachicken said:

I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you but I'm very interested in the camera you have set up in your hen house.

I would love to spy on my girls once they've gone to bed.

Any chance you could tell me what it is you have and how easy it was to set up ?

Thanks x

Sure! It's this cam from Argos - £40 and easy to set up. I also got a wifi extender to allow wifi to reach into the garden. Links:

https://www.argos.co.uk/product/9302998

https://www.argos.co.uk/product/6207735

The cam works well in the dark as well as day, and has a free app so no ongoing fees. Hope this helps!

8 hours ago, The Dogmother said:

Ditto what the others have said.

Also, your roosting bars are too big and sharp - they need to be max 1.5" square and with rounded off edges.

Best to avoid them roosting on the floor for all sorts of reasons... poo, lice and mites, dented breast bones.......

Thanks for the advice. I used 2x4 because the buffs have large feet and I was told by several posts that the roost bars are better too large than too small. In terms of roundness, I agree they look sharp from the photo - but they have the edges rounded off with a router, so I don't think they are uncomfortable.

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Ah I loved my orpies.  I didn't have any issues with picking them up - once I learnt how to do it properly! Sioux has left me with a big scar on my arm and the number of times that I thought my nose was broken! :lol:  But I did get the hang of it eventually. The buff was always a bit flighty but the other two were daft old things.  They used to go up the ramp to the cube.  As do all those that were added since.

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