Orpingtons are one of the largest breeds of chickens, and backyard chicken keepers raise them for meat and egg production.
These docile birds enjoy human company, so the Orpington is also considered a good family bird.
The Buff Orpington chicken is known as the “Golden Retriever of chickens” because it will get in its owner’s lap wanting to be cuddled.
When planning a chicken coop for your Orpingtons, remember they need plenty of space to accommodate their large bodies.
Many chicken owners wonder: Since Orpingtons are larger birds, do they roost?
Orpingtons like to roost as much as any other chicken as long as the roosting bars are low enough for them to get onto. When a chicken roosts on a perch at night, it feels safer from predators and stays clean. If the roosting bars are too tall, an Orpington may get injured or not use them.
Orpington chickens’ wings are too small to fly or jump very high.
If an Orpington gets to a high roosting perch, the bird is at risk of injuring its foot or leg when it jumps down.
Keep reading to learn the best roost height for Orpingtons and which materials are unsuitable for perches.
What is the Best Roost Height for Orpingtons?
The average perch height in most chicken coops is 2-4′ feet, but this may be too high for the plump Orpingtons.
A roosting perch height of 18-24″ inches is more suitable for Orpingtons.
This height allows an Orpington to get on the roost bars more easily and reduces the risk of foot injuries if the bird falls or jumps down.
Further Reading: Orpington Chicken Jumping and Flying Guide
Foot and leg injuries usually require immediate medical attention, and the affected chicken may need to be separated from the flock until it heals.
The minimum roost height of 18″ inches makes the chicken feel safe from predators and ensures the bird’s body feathers do not get dirty from soiled bedding.
When a chicken constantly lies on the coop floor, it becomes more prone to developing coccidiosis or becoming infested with mites.
Providing Different Bar Heights
You may also want to provide two different levels of bars, as the chickens higher up in the pecking order prefer to sleep above the others in the flock.
A ladder-style roosting bar is easy for your Orpingtons to climb and reduces the risk of foot and leg injuries.
Leave at least 15″ inches of space between the bars so the chickens do not accidentally poop on the ones below.
Roosting Bar Shape and Width
In addition to the height of the roosting perch from the ground, the size and shape are also important.
Chickens have flat feet, so they need a wide roosting perch to sit comfortably.
A roost bar width of 2-4″ inches will accommodate an Orpington.
The wider bar also allows an Orpington to lower its body over its feet to prevent frostbite in the bitter winter months.
Offering varying perch sizes is also helpful to the foot health of chickens.
The difference between perches allows a chicken to choose which one it feels most comfortable with and helps prevent foot issues like bumblefoot.
Rounding the edges of the roost bars also avoids accidental cuts or scrapes.
Be Sure the Bar is Long Enough for Your Flock
You must also ensure the roosting perch is long enough to accommodate all of your chickens.
Orpingtons need about 12-14″ inches of space on the bar to avoid bumping into their neighbor.
How Much Space do Orpingtons Need in the Coop?
The recommended amount of space Orpingtons need in the chicken coop is about 5′ square feet per bird.
For the nest boxes in the coop, they only need to be 12″ inches deep and wide.
Any larger than this and multiple Orpington hens may attempt to get into the same nest box, leading to possible fights and broken eggs.
A nest box for each hen is unnecessary, as it is unlikely that all of them will lay eggs simultaneously.
Generally, there must be at least one nest box for every three hens.
If you have chicks or brooding hens, keep a waterer with fresh, cool water in the coop at all times.
Chickens do not normally get up to drink water in the middle of the night, but it must be available to the chicks and broody hens if needed.
Cool drinking water and shade are essential during hot temperatures because Orpington chicks are more prone to heat exhaustion.
Further Reading: How heat-tolerant are Orpington chickens?
Use a heated waterer in the winter to prevent the water from freezing.
Dehydration is a serious issue with chickens and could lead to severe health problems.
When a hen is without water for even one day, it may take weeks for her to recover, and she will have a drop in egg production.
You must also provide ample room in the chicken run, so your Orpington flock has plenty of room to exercise.
Orpingtons need approximately 20′ square feet of space per bird in the chicken run.
Unsuitable Materials for Perches
Roosting bars are typically made from untreated wood.
A 2×4″ inch piece of wood with the broad side facing the top works quite well.
Be sure to round the edges and remove any splinters or rough spots by sanding the bar until it is smooth.
There are a few materials you must avoid using for roosting bars.
Metal bars or pipes are not suitable to use as roosting perches.
Not only is the metal too slippery for the chicken to stand on comfortably, but it also gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
A hot metal bar could blister your Orpington’s feet, and a cold one makes the birds more prone to frostbite.
Plastic should also be avoided as a material for roosting bars.
Cheap plastic roosting bars tend to warp and sag under the weight of an Orpington.
When chickens feel like their roosting bar is unstable, they are less likely to use it, and you will find your flock sleeping on the coop floor.
Plastic is also slippery and difficult for the chickens to perch on.
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