Perches/roosts
Enrichment type:
physical
Items Required:
wood, fastenings, drill
Species:
chicken

Perches/roosts

Providing chicken with perches, aslo referred to as roosts, is an important enrichment device to improve the well being of chickens in a flock. Also, flightiness was reduced in chickens reared in an environment where they had access to perches (Brake 1987). Birds also demonstrated that by providing all flock members with adequate perching space minimized foot abrasions, reduced feather pecking and strengthened tiba bones among flock members (Hughes et al., 1990).

A few tips related to perches:
  • Perches should not have any sharp edges
  • Hens prefer roosts that are large [5 cm diameter] rather than small, and square or round rather than triangular in shape (Muiruri et al., 1990)
  • Flat-surfaced, mushroom-shaped, wooden perches reduce keel damage when compared with traditional, wide, rectangular wooden perches [which cause less damage than those with circular cross-section] (Tauson et al., 1994)
  • Perches need to be spaces properly from one another so that birds don't poop on other birds or their perches below them.
  • Perches should be made of material such as wood. Research found that caged hens spent more time on softwood perches than on hardwood, metal or plastic perches. "Overall, birds spent about 25% of the day time on perches (Appleby et al., 1992)

Sources

  1. Hughes, B. O., Appleby, M. C. 1990. Perch use, plumage and foot condition and bone strength in caged hens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 26, 294-295 (Abstract).
  2. Tauson, R., Abrahamsson, P. 1994. Foot and skeletal disorders in laying hens. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavia, Section A - Animal Science 44, 110-119.
  3. Brake, J. 1987. Influence of presence of perches during rearing on incidence of floor laying in broiler breeders. Poultry Science 66, 1587-1589.
  4. Appleby, M. C., Smith, S. F., Hughes, B. O. 1992. Individual perching behaviour of laying hens and its effects in cages. British Poultry Science 33, 227-238.
  5. Brake, J., Keeley, T. P. 1994. Effect of age and presence of perches during rearing on tonic immobility fear reactions of broiler breeder pullets. Poultry Science 73, 1470-1474