I have a group of lovely ladies that are very stubborn and choosing to roost in some risky places. They spent the first few weeks of their life in a rubbermaid tub until I felt they were big enough that I was comfortable putting them out in the chicken house. Me and my dad built this chicken house several years ago and it is probably about 20 x 15 foot with a 10-12 foot sloped roof. It is made out of sheet metal, has an old screen door (the kind with glass like you have on a house) and one wall has a large door sized window covered in chicken wire. There used to be an old door you could fold down to cover the window, but it rotted away long ago. I have not had chickens in about 5 or 6 years, so the yard and house were all a little run down looking but its cleaning up okay, the chickens do not seem to mind.
My problem is, my chickens want to roost on the barbed wire that extends a little above the chicken wire on one side of the yard. (They never escape however, they always jump back in instead of jumping out, but then again I come open their gate every morning to let them free range. They always come back but do not roost inside.) We had the top part of a tree fall into the yard a week or two ago and it is going to have to be cut up to be removed. Half of them have taken to roosting on this tree, and the other half on the barbed wire. They are all about 7 months old, and I do not believe that it has rained on them one time since they have been roosting. But it is about to cold (well, "cold" because I live in Texas) and rainy and I do not want them to be out roosting in the cold rain! That and I am scared someone is going to be made into an owl snack. I have gone and moved them from where they are roosting now, to their roost inside, which is basically a huge limb that goes from one corner of the chicken house to the other (I am all about free lol, and that was free and worked perfectly!) and extends up pretty high. I am 5'5'' and it is a bit above my head, and it is fairly level. I thought after a few weeks of moving them consistently every night they might get the idea but no such luck. I put up some wire where they were roosting on the fence but they just moved down the fence a ways.
I looked at several other posts and most of the solutions required covering the areas where the chickens were attempting to roost etc. I would have cooped them all up in the house for a bit to get them used to roosting inside but it has just been so hot and I didn't want them to peck each other to death in such close quarters. I feel like they avoid the chicken house at all costs since they spent their first couple of months cooped up inside of it.
Does anyone have any suggestions? Now that it has cooled off, should I shut them in the chicken house for a few days or a week or so to get them roosting inside? Should i just keep moving them every night? I would hate for someone to get eaten by an owl or hawk, it is only a matter of time. Something has been eating our eggs if I am not able to collect them in the evening which has only been like twice, so something knows they are there. We have plans to remove the large tree from the chicken yard that half of them love to roost on, just got to find time to do it. But they have so much fun climbing on it that I almost want to leave it! And I am not sure what to do about the ones on the fence, even if we remove the tree, I can't remove the fence!. Never had this problem with my chickens before, they all had no issue roosting inside. I'm sorry if this has been asked multiple times, I did do a search but none of the posts really had any ideas I felt would work for my situation??
Any ideas or suggestions for my stubborn ladies?? Thanks in advance!!
P.S. I can take some pics later after I get home if I can figure out how to post them from my phone.... Going to the lake tonight so I wont have access to computer til later this weekend.