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Strange Chickens?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hey, all! My chickens aren't doing some things that I expected them to do by now (they are 20 weeks old!) I thought these were things they would naturally do, but I'm wondering if perhaps I do need to teach them? Especially now that we are getting close to egg laying.


The ladies come out of the coop into the run in the morning and are out all day (though the door is open and they can go in and out freely.) They do not go back in on their own at night. Even if we miss sunset and go out when it is dark, they are piled in a corner in the run. They also do not, under any circumstances, sleep on a roost. In fact I've never seen them on anything higher than 6 inches high. They only sleep in the corners in the coop. We are putting in nest boxes soon, but I know they are going to sleep in them.


When we designed the coop, I had feedback to close off the rafters and it makes me laugh now because they will no go on their roost that is 2 1/2 feet up. 


I REALLY want to start letting them free range the yard a bit, but I am terrified because I don't think they'll come back at sunset. Also, despite holding them a lot when they were little, they do not like to be held and get crazy if I try. I'm working on getting over my fear of squawking and flapping now that they are big so they can be picked up easier. I've read to pick them up and put them on the roost at night, but I think they'll lose it if I pick them up at night.


Ideas on how I can make my chickens act more like- chickens?:th As always, thanks for your insight!

post #2 of 13

they should not flap or wig out at all because they can't see they should be calmer, or at least mine are I can grab them and put them on the roost, what are you r roosts make out of/look like

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Awesome- I'll try it out. We have 2- the first was a larger branch over a poop box. We thought perhaps it was too narrow (their feet didn't fit flat) or that it was too high (probably not quite 4 feet up.) So we've added a lower and flatter one made from a 2x6 that's about 2 1/2 feet up. 

post #4 of 13

how many chickens do you have, usually chickens like it around the 4ft. mark for a roost.

post #5 of 13
Do you have a ramp to the high roost? Mine usually don't fly up but walk up the ramp.
2 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Sex Links,. 1 Golden Retriever, 1 "old man" cat and 2 Betta.
2 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Sex Links,. 1 Golden Retriever, 1 "old man" cat and 2 Betta.
post #6 of 13
My chickens used to be exactly like yours! They would sleep in a pile. Like literally there was just a multicolored pile of feathers in the dirt and I would check to make sure all seven were there. Sometimes there would be a duck or two at the bottom of the pile too. They get super zonked once they're sleepy though so they're easy to handle, they don't struggle at all. But be careful setting them on the roost when they're like that because they might not grab onto it right away. I found that when I pick them up and they're sleepy, it helps to be softly talking to them and pet their backs first. I had one chicken who would try to peck me if I just picked her up, but if I petted her a bit she didn't peck.

Mine got tamer once they were allowed to free range. I guess because they would get curious as to what I was doing, and I'd let them in the garden with me and give them treats. I would round them up before sunset and get them back to the coop. Now as you know, it's super hard to catch a chicken, so I didn't even try. I would herd them like a dog! Nice and slow, sometimes holding my arms out and waving them, getting them back to the run. Over time they learned to go hang around the run when it is getting dark. Mine are a year old and still won't actually go back into the run, until I go out and put them in. They'll be right by the open door but now they're spoiled princesses and wait for me to pick them up and put them in!
Edited by Adalida - 3/2/16 at 7:59am
post #7 of 13
Our roost are right next to the feeder and nesting boxes they are in a big pen so they seem to go in when there tired but before if the young ones would still be out I would go out with a long stick and round them up and bring them in, they seem to get the hang of it after then.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

YOU GUYS! This was life changing. I CANNOT believe how easy they are to pick up after dark. Got all 4 on the roost without a problem. We'll try it for a few days & then try a ramp if they aren't jumping/flying by then. 

I love this forum. Thanks! :):love


My other fear with free range is them jumping our fence. Which rationally I understand is ridiculous. They won't fly to a 2 1/2 foot roost, so I don't know why I'm so nervous about them suddenly flying over our 6 foot fence. Do you agree?

post #9 of 13
While I believe that mine could clear the 6 foot fence around my yard they have never shown any inclination to do so and we have been free ranging for years. Unfortunately the Hawks force me to supervise while they are free ranging which limits the "free" time.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

When I went out to put them up last night 4/4 were off the ground!!! (1 in the poop box, 1 on the edge & 2 on the roost, but I'll take it!)


Thanks for your help.


@BY Bob ours will be supervised free time as well, I'm just worried if they fly over I won't be able to get them back (or the neighbor dog will find them first!) glad to hear yours don't try to do it. I'll have to bite the bullet and try it! Thanks :)

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