Bullies at the door

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by BobHartmannSWR, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. BobHartmannSWR

    BobHartmannSWR New Member

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    So recently I lost two hens, from the bottom of my pecking order, to a fox because two of my red stars blocked them from entering the coop before the door automatically closed. These two mean girls like the spot directly behind the door because it has a 2x8 that they prefer to roost on rather than the ample perches in the coop. I put the 2x8 in to seal up some rat damage from chewing thru the edge of the floor. This solved the rat problem but had unintended consequences.
    Is anyone aware of something I could put over the 2x8 that chickens would be too bothered to perch on overnight? I was thinking plastic astro-turf of something they will find offensive but that wont hurt their feet. Thoughts? Thank you!
     
  2. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    Almost anything you can do is liable to cause problems for their feet. If you haven't already you'll need to address the rodent problem because they can chew through the 2X4, I had mice do it in my old coop. Pick up some AG mouse bait, put it down the hole. (That's if the girls can't get to it) If they can then you'll need a bait station. Then instead of the 2X4 put a piece of flat wood down.

    I know you're going to hate this idea but a run is probably in everybody's best interest until the fox finds it can no longer get at the girls.
     

  3. BobHartmannSWR

    BobHartmannSWR New Member

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    Fortunately the rats were eliminated by a couple of local cats. I have a run however its electic fence. My entire system system is portable, the coop, the fence, it all move every 60-90 days.
     
  4. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    A pic would be helpful to understand how the fox got in.

    I would remove that 2x4 and put a flat piece of wood over the hole. That will stop the wanting to roost right at the door.
     
  5. Sylie

    Sylie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with Robin on the flat piece of wood, just screw it down to the floor over the hole. If they really have a problem with the removed 2x4 then put it back in there but somewhere not near the door, turn it into an actual roost. Do you know why they prefer the 2x4? What are your other roosts made of? Are they round dowels or sticks or something like that? Chickens (contrary to popular belief) do not like (nor are they good for their feet) round roost bars. They prefer the flat side of a 2x4 or 2x6 usually because they don't have to work as hard at balancing and rarely fall off in their sleep as they sometimes do in round roost bar situations.
     
  6. BobHartmannSWR

    BobHartmannSWR New Member

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    Thank you for the feedback. I think the board is probably viewed by the mean girls as prime-view real estate in the coop. The perches are made of 2x2 (cut down 2x4s) that have their edges slightly rounded. Sunday I am planning to clean the coop and I will remove the offending board and perhaps put a piece of wood underneath to close the gap the rats created. I probably didnt give enough info in my first post. My coop is 8x8' by 4' high and on a set of ATV wheels under a base that is 4' high. The bottom and two sides are hardware cloth, the top is corrugated metal, the front is plywood with an automatic pop door and the back is plywood housing my 5 nest boxes. Inside it has a 3-tier perch system on the right that is 6.5 ft long and on the left a two tier system that has two perches about 5 ft long. On those perches sleep 41 healthy happy hens and one super docile splash Cochin rooster (Free chick from McMurray). One of these day's I will take some pictures.
     
  7. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    I would change those roosts out to something wider. They really can be a problem for their feet.

    I've been giving some thought to building a ten inch wide platform for my low Guinea so he doesn't have to spend all his time sitting on the big tree branch in their coop. If it doesn't freak them out with the change he'll appreciate it.
     
    Sylie likes this.
  8. Sylie

    Sylie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Absolutely change out those roosts, those are not good for their feet, this is very important. They can develop several different problems with roosts like that. As they attempt to jump off a skinnier roost they sort of "slide" over the edge at the same time as they jump and flap their wings. This sliding can cause scratches on the bottoms of their feet, these scratches can become infected or worse, become a "bumble" (bumblefoot is the ailment). They won't feel they need to slide if they have a wider roost, they will just jump as if they were on the ground. Also, the skinnier roosts cause their toes to curl around the roost for hours on end while sleeping which leads to a type of muscle atrophy and eventually they will not be able to uncurl their toes and will have trouble walking. Although chickens are birds, they are not like other birds in their foot/leg/toe construction. If you have a parakeet for example, it's feet are designed to curl around a round perch, they are arboreal (lives in trees) birds. Chickens are ground dwellers, they need flat surfaces for their feet.
    The skinnier roosts can also cause hip and knee problems for them, causing arthritis and joint swelling.
    How goes the repair job to the rat hole? Have you been able to fix it yet?